OpenText Corp. revealed more details about how it has integrated analytics across its product suite at its Enterprise World conference this week. The Waterloo-based enterprise information management giant has been putting analytics tools into its other corporate products following the acquisition of analytics firm Actuate, which it acquired in January.
Allen Bonde, vice president of product marketing at OpenText, also shed more light on what is inside the new analytics suite that the company announced earlier this week.
The analytics suite merges two separate components. The first is the Information Hub, which comprises reporting and data visualisation functions. The second is the Big Data Analytics (BDA) product, which focuses more on trends analysis and predictive analytics.
“In the suite, these products come together more closely. It’s about formalizing the combination of the iHub capabilities – the reporting and visualization – with the advanced predictive analytics into one packaged offering,” Bonde said.
OpenText had already been selling these products together informally for a couple of quarters, he added. Both are aimed at business users, keeping OpenText outside of the specialist data science area. The BDA tool uses canned algorithms, for example, rather than giving people the opportunity to program in R, as products from IBM and HP do.
The company also has plans to push its analytics capability into the cloud. It rolled out a cloud version of BDA in September, and plans a formalized cloud release of Information Hub in March 2016.
Diffusing analytics features
Bonde explained that the diffusion of analytics features into various OpenText products had been part of the Blue Carbon project to better integrate its products.
“It’s being embedded within many OpenText products. This is the embedded product that has been picked up very quickly with the various development teams within OpenText,” he said.
One of the first analytics integrations happened in the content server, where the company embedded tools that could help companies understand how content was being consumed, enabling them to target it more effectively. It also made sense to embed analytics functions into the customer experience suite.
Another area where analytics has played a big part was the Business Networks suite, designed to handle supply chain management.
“The business network spits out an amazing amount of data in multiple formats. Real-time, archived, at a document level. “There are several initiatives underway to add reporting into that product using Actuate that sits on top of the network,” he said.
The company showed an alpha release where it’s pulling together data to show an infographic-style dashboard of information from the network. The predictive analytics is another use case, he said.
There is still work to do on these integrations, though, and they haven’t all been released as product features, indicating that Project Blue Carbon hasn’t delivered on its full potential just yet.
Bonde hopes that as analytics capabilities make their way into various products in the suite, it will provide upsell opportunities as CIOs realise the potential of the reporting and predictive analytics tools.
“We give you some built-in functionality as part of your package with a limited function iHub, if you will. Then when you want to start wiring up more data, more sources, more visuals, then you upgrade to the full commercial version. That’s a really interesting opportunity.”
Enhancing the Business Network suite
Senior director of product marketing Marco De Vries said that the Business Network 16 suite is already enjoying many analytics enhancements as the Actuate technology trickles in.
The product is based on the Trading Grid product that OpenText acquired when it bought B2B integration firm GXS in January 2014. Users connect to a single cloud-based service, and request their trading partners do the same to share data with them.
Business Networks currently has 600,000 trading partners connected to the network. It allows them to send information in many different digital formats, and even digitizes paper from trading partners that are still doing things manually.
One area of enhancement is in the product-to-pay procurement process. This entails several steps from initial procurement through order acknowledgement, order shipments, stocking, invoicing and payment, and is a significant piece of the supply chain management puzzle.
“Since we’re already moving all these documents, we can now start to offer analytics on that process,” he said. “How are my suppliers performing? Is there a certain supplier consistently sending only partial shipments, or are they invoicing incorrectly? So buyers can make more strategic decisions about who they do business with.”
It also added a solutions module for solutions track and trace, enabling customers to understand where products are in the supply chain.
“If I make my widgets in China, I’ll know when it leaves the port,” he explained, adding that a company could also be alerted when it arrived in the US. “We marry that data with environment data such as the weather, so if there’s a hurricane coming into Louisiana, I can send rerouting information and update when I anticipate to receive my goods.”
The cloud-only system is itself integrated with other suites as a result of the Blue Carbon project to co-ordinate the various products in the OpenText stable. Connected to the Open Text content server enables product catalogues to be updated with information relating to supply chain stock, for example.