“Responsible transformation is the way for companies today to proceed, whether we’re talking about medicine and wellness or finance or transportation or labour.”
The above words came from Mark Barrenechea in a recent chat with ITWC. The OpenText CEO and CTO said he sees the solution to many of the challenges currently facing businesses not just in transformation but in transformation done responsibly – with a keen eye to what is taking shape in front of us.
“The world is changing rapidly,” he said. “The challenges facing us are many, from ‘What do we do about the supply chain and economy?’ to ‘How do we live better and longer?’ to ‘How do we deal with climate change?’ However, being an optimist by nature, I tend to see many more opportunities than challenges.”
To the question of what will bring companies success in the so-called “next normal,” and what they should be focusing on today, Barrenechea said it depends on who you’re asking.
“One might talk of the “Great Resignation” and a self-reflective and hypermobile employee; another might focus on technology and the power of innovation. Both pieces are very important; however I say a multiplicity of elements – with ‘rethink’ and responsibility as the central pillars – will drive success.”
Barrenechea said it is important for leaders today to evolve their mindset.
“I started out in a world of punch-cards and vacuum tubes,” he said. “It’s a different world now. People today are polyglots, fluent in many modes of expression. The world, once linear, is now exponential. Leading organizations have acknowledged this evolution, and have themselves evolved both their mindset and their approach.”
Barrenechea pointed to OpenText’s Zero-In Initiative – a framework for achieving global impact goals related to its environmental, social, and governance commitments – as an example of what companies can do when they evolve their thinking and harness technology in pursuit of a goal more noble than mere profit-taking.
“We’re working with several customers, including Heineken, Method, and Sutter Health, helping them digitize to advance corporate sustainability, and are also working with recycling companies. There’s this huge trend right now – the green ledger. We’re presenting a new technology to companies to help them count their carbon, their emissions, and the power they consume. With green ledger technology, these organizations are able to set goals, to get as quickly as possible to Net Zero.”
One other example of OpenText’s commitment to technology for good is its work with the Southern Alberta Internet Child Exploitation Unit. The Alberta law enforcement unit is one of many agencies across North America that investigates offences related to incidents of Internet child exploitation that originate in the province of Alberta. In working with OpenText, the law enforcement unit’s technology is helping improve case efficiency, close cases faster, and prosecute more offenders.
Part of the Solution
Barrenechea is clear on what organizations should be focusing on coming into 2023: “A Great Rethink is needed. We have hybrid offices, supply chain challenges, and rapidly changing customer interactions; and of course there’s the cyber factor – a threat that will continue to plague organizations as they monitor a vastly expanded attack surface.”
Naturally, Barrenechea is strong on climate. “Look around the world – whether it’s a hurricane in Puerto Rico or a typhoon or tsunami in Japan, a drought or deadly heat wave in California, or the prospects of seeing 20 per cent of Florida under water in our lifetimes. This is serious stuff, and we cannot ignore it. We must ask ourselves if we have our models right. Are we taking it seriously enough? What technologies are we going to use that will help make us all part of the solution and not the problem?”
Where to Begin?
For organizations that are not as far along the road to responsible transformation as OpenText or have yet to begin their journey, Barrenechea has some simple advice.
“Remove paper. If we reduce the amount of paper we use, we save one per cent of the world’s trees each and every year. If all of us would commit to digitization, we could save every tree in Canada in five years. We’re talking real results to a real problem.”
Barrenechea added a second bit of advice: “Lean into hybrid work. We don’t need to have everyone in the office most of the time. We certainly don’t need to have our cars on the road every day.”
Barrenechea summarized his – and OpenText’s – ethos in the theme of a keynote address he will soon be giving:
“We have to be more than just intelligent in our information systems, connected to machines, robots, IoT, supply chain, et cetera; we must also be responsible in everything we do. The fact is there is no plan ‘B’ – there is certainly no planet ‘B.’”