Open Text CEO pledges more research and purchases

In a post-9/11 and post-Enron era, the last thing an enterprise wants or needs right now is to get Amazon-ed with its digital content, says Open Text Corp.’s head honcho.

According to Tom Jenkins, CEO of Waterloo, Ont.-based (although with offices in Ottawa and Chicago) enterprise content management (ECM) solutions provider Open Text Corp., compliance issues combined with the continued rise of the Internet has changed the way that IT needs to approach digital content. New government compliance and corporate governance regulations means that enterprises require greater transparency in collaboration and content, he added.

In a briefing with, Jenkins said the ECM sector is beginning to mature and will start to consolidate. To that end, Open Text plans to spend an estimated $500 million dollars towards content management research over the next five years, Jenkins said.

Jenkins also talked about the future of ECM, having recently penned the book, Enterprise Content Management: What You Need to Know, a primer for enterprises.

ECM, technology that allows enterprises to manage, store, publish and distribute enterprise digital content, is still an emerging technology and because of compliance regulation like Sarbanes-Oxley in the U.S. and corporate governance developments in Canada, enterprises are rushing to do figure how to be compliant. Companies are already being penalized for mismanaging critical business content, he added.

Traditionally IT has focused on back office databases and ERP systems for data. But with content management, since the growth of the Internet and Web-based processes, data is increasingly captured digitally.

“Digital content is exploding,” Jenkins said.

Much of this data is digital content in the form of e-mail, faxed invoices, Web pages and spreadsheets. Perhaps the biggest change in IT is that 90 per cent of data is unstructured data, Jenkins said.

And while compliance has made ECM a hot IT sector, CIOs are placed in a unique position, Jenkins said. ”CIOs are saying management is not giving me any more money to spend…(the mandate is) comply to (Sarbanes-Oxley), but don’t spend anymore money doing it. IT is wondering how to do this.”

And when it comes to content management, building a business case isn’t as difficult as some have made it out to be, Jenkins notes. This is because these firms are using the information better.

This is seen through companies like online retailer, Jenkins said. At the time, it was using simply managing digital content better than what was being done previously, Jenkins said, in terms of providing a single, secure repository and specialized tools to manage large, complex documents and collections with dense subject matter and specific terminology. This has forced other organizations to change, Jenkins said. And when it comes to content management, building a business case isn’t as difficult as some have made it out to be, Jenkins notes. This is because these firms are using the information better. Text

Open Text has also been on an acquisition spree of sorts. This past August, the firm announced its intention to acquire Artesia Technologies Inc. — a provider of digital asset management solutions. This is in addition to Open Text’s recent acquisitions of German content management vendors IXOS Software AG and Gauss Interprise AG, and its move to integrate new capabilities with its Livelink collaboration and content management software.

This combined with a focus on research may be the key to Open Text’s survival, according to Nick Wilkoff, senior analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., particularly as other, large vendors move into this space and established vendors (such as EMC and Documentum) ramp up their offerings.

Oracle Corp., for example, this month launched its new content management software, Files 10g, as part of the Oracle Collaboration Suite product line, the application, whose underlying architecture is the 10g Database and Application Server, contains file management, security and event-driven workflows.

Wilkoff said the Open Text is making moves to go after the large vendors and will help Open Text compete as more of an enterprise-scale content management vendor.

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