Many firms have had difficult decisions regarding whether to return to in-person events or remain online post-pandemic. Events cost a lot of money, and when you don’t know if you will get 200 or 2000 people to turn up (as one vendor told me), it’s a considerable risk. That being said, in-person events are back and gaining surprisingly good attendance. OpenText took the plunge last week and held its annual conference in person rather than online in Vegas.
So what did we learn from this event? First, the focus was on the company’s Titanium Project, which had been previously announced in June. In short, Project Titanium is the company’s ambitious goal of building out a vast information management platform that supports private & public cloud and on-premises deployments. Or, more often than not, a combination of all the above. It’s a direct and notable contrast to many other firms that are still determined to move their customers to the cloud, whether their customers want to move or not. Of note here is that one of Titanium’s future goals is to get to net zero and dramatically reduce emissions along that route. That’s a worthy goal, as the negative environmental impact of cloud computing (huge) is something many IT vendors often prefer to avoid addressing. In more prosaic terms, Titanium also attempts to bring order and manageability to OpenText’s ever-growing portfolio of products. The days of OpenText being an ECM vendor (Enterprise Content Management) are long gone; today, it encompasses everything from business networks to security to IT infrastructure and beyond. CEO Mark Barrenechea has long pushed the idea that OpenText is an EIM (Enterprise Information Management) company, and he is right. This transition over the years through acquisitions such as Carbonite and GXS has transformed the company. The recently announced move to acquire Microfocus (you can read our analysis here) further spreads the company’s tech reach.
So herein lies the challenge of writing a report on OpenText World, as this was a highly focused Content Management technology event ten years ago. Today, it is an event that touches on so many different areas of the tech world that it is hard for an outside observer to grasp what is going on. Likewise, it is an almighty challenge for OpenText itself, particularly EVP and CMO Sandy Ono, who joined in January of this year to explain and market. At the same time, we should note that it is arguably an excellent problem to have as OpenText continues to grow and stay profitable for its institutional shareholders. Moreover, Mark Barranecha has discussed how OpenText operates as a private equity (PE) firm for all practical intents and purposes. That has been obvious for a long time, and the latest $6B mega acquisition of Microfocus appears to cement that claim. But here’s where that gets tricky, PE firms typically hold on to acquisitions just enough to offload them at a substantial profit. To date, OpenText has only acquired and has not divested, but one wonders if that situation might start to change. For example, many product lines within Microfocus, such as COBOL & Unisys tools, might find a more suitable home elsewhere. We will wait and see what happens, but in our analysis, a divestment program would seem to make sense at least from the standpoint of having to manage hundreds of products.
Project Titanium, though, is a good move and was a sensible focus for the event as Titanium aims to bring cohesion to this sprawling portfolio. They are bringing order to, for example, its array of APIs, applications, services, etc., and providing a centralized hub through a Cloud Zone for customers to get administrative access and support to their products. The goal is to release updates to Titanium every three months for the next year and a half, so that’s something we will watch closely to monitor the progress.
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