In this Supply Chain Matters blog commentary, supply chain industry analyst Bob Ferrari shares observations and insights from enterprise information and B2B business network management technology provider OpenText’s Enterprise World 2018 conference held in Toronto.  OpenText Enterprise World 2018
An OpenText tradition is for CEO Mark Barrenechea to declare a theme for the company’s annual customer conference. The 2018 theme was the Latin phrase Mundus Novus, coined in 1503 by Amerigo Vespucci to describe the New World. Indeed, Enterprise Information Management (EIM) and B2B Business Network technologies have entered newer, more advanced dimensions of information integration and decision-making support.
The CEO anchored opening keynote emphasized messages that every business is feeling the pressure to quickly become more digitally focused, and coined new terms such as “augmented intelligence vs. artificial intelligence,” or “cobots vs. robots.” The keynote further unveiled OpenText’s updated vision of The Intelligent and Connected Enterprise, that brings together all forms of information and insights in digital capabilities, including the B2B and Edge computing networks.
As for a future product development roadmap, Barrenechea communicated a future product blueprint.  The provider’s existing Release 16 Cloud EIM Suite platform, which is offered as on-premise and private Cloud deployments will now extend through 2020 and will be enhanced by a regular release calendar. The Release version EP4 occurred in April, Release EP5 is scheduled for November of this year, with releases up to EP7 indicated through 2019.
For the first time, customers were introduced to the new OpenText, native SaaS, OT2 Public Cloud EIM suite that will consist of a robust platform, integrated services and a series of micro applications directed at supporting specific business process management and decision-making processes. Examples were noted as Archive Center, Contract Center, Invoice Center, Quality Center, among others. According to on-stage demos, customers will also have the opportunity to build their own mini applications on the fly.
Executives admitted that OT2 was developed not only as a new customer offering for public multi-tenant public Cloud deployment , but also to enable OpenText internal developers to move much quicker in integrating externally acquired technology acquisitions. Also communicated to customers was that the Release 16 platform would remain, but that OT2 releases would now be in a parallel cycle.
OT2 is planned to be able to support deployments on either a Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, or Google Cloud platform. Like other select enterprise software vendors of-late, the new notion is relieving customers of overall operational data-center and information security protection burdens, but at the same time, some vendors are avoiding the burden of having to capitalize and deploy their own global IT infrastructure.
 
Open Text B2B Business Network
Our genesis and perspectives for coverage of OpenText’s B2B Business Network stems back to GXS which was acquired in 2014. Since that time, support beyond transactional messaging via EDI and other messaging formats has evolved to far broader capabilities.
Each and every year, the scale of business network numbers grow larger, which now include over 600,000 businesses connected, more than 65,000 customers including boasting that 23 of the top 25 world class supply chains are supported by this network. At this year’s Enterprise World, there were 30 dedicated customer education sessions directly focused on the B2B Business Network which is a significant milestone.
OpenText’s stated vision is the Intelligent Business Network, which has included moving way beyond secure exchange of information into broader areas of managed services, applications and added intelligence. Such efforts include the mining of data and information among the complete order-to-cash or purchase to pay processes to uncover transaction volume trends, provide early warning to process bottlenecks or develop more predictive metrics. Most important at this point have been efforts to provide integration with the Magellan AI based information management suite along with an API library to expose and consume real-time services across the network. That allows customer IT developers the  ability to build their own applications on top of the business network such as posting a document, invoking micropayments, or querying 3PL’s for shipping quotes. Noted was that customer Nestle can now extract information content out of SAP to perform various slicing and dicing of data needed by business partners. The addition of the OpenText AppWorks platform now allows customers to build custom applications, for instance, augmenting support for either buy or sell contracts. Network users can also look forward to a new modern and smarter user-interface by the end of this month.
Key innovation areas underway involve extensions of any-to-any connectivity, moving to individual users and physical devices, augmented with identity and access management controls. This specific development stems from the prior acquisition of Covisint to leverage that platform’s IoT enablement coupled with user identity and access management, which is rather timely in the current environment of heightened cyberattacks and data loss.
General Motors vehicle owners familiar with the OnStar service that matches a unique vehicle VIN number with an authorized owner or vehicle operator to perform services like analyzing vehicle performance, opening car doors, or alerting to service needs may or not be aware that the technology supporting such capabilities comes from Covisint. Hyundai’s blueLink services are also supported and now includes direct connections for warranty and services repair information along with a connection with consumer auto parts retailer AutoZone.
In the area of flexibility and choice for on-boarding new business partners, which can sometimes be complex and time-consuming, new tools and applications are being introduced to allow business network customers to be able to better automate the process on their own.  For those customers who continue to prefer that OpenText support such efforts in custom managed services, such efforts will remain with dedicated staffed customer focused teams.
Announced was a partnership with BlockEx to pilot eventual blockchain technology customer use cases along with a nanopay for frictionless micro-payment needs.
Reader Takeaway
From this analyst’s lens, one of the unique advantages of OpenText remains its abilities to integrate all aspects of enterprise level information and content management with B2B business process and decision-making needs. Initial speculation as to why a premiere EIM provider would want to acquire a global operating B2B Business Network is now finally becoming visible in development roadmaps, added fill-in acquisitions and actual released technology. The nucleus elements of the Intelligent Business Network are beginning to take visual shaping and what remains is consistent execution.
 
Bob Ferrari
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