Leading Open Text

Open Text CEO Tom Jenkins explores multimedia management.

Open Text Corp., of Ottawa, is gathering momentum in the enterprise content management arena. The company last year bought Ixos Software AG and Gauss Interprise AG, both of Germany, Eloquent Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., and Corechange Inc., of Boston. CEO Tom Jenkins told eWEEK Executive Editor Stan Gibson and Senior Editor Dennis Callaghan hes guiding Open Text to support multimedia content and document life-cycle environments. Eloquents multimedia technologies are important, Jenkins said, because documents are morphing to include audio and video.

How do you see EMC [Corp.] as a rival, since it bought Documentum [Inc.], which previously bought eRoom [Technology Inc.]?

It will be going after life-cycle management with a very heavy emphasis on storage, which is quite valid for a lot of applications. Users will have a choice. The choice well be giving them is a software solution where the platform—the hardware and the network—are open. As an independent software vendor, were going to be making sure our software runs equally on everything.

How much does it cost for services and integration when someone deploys an Open Text product?

Our rule of thumb is that for every dollar of license revenue, it probably costs about 30 cents to deploy. In the case of an IBM or HP [Hewlett-Packard Co.], for every dollar of license revenue, youre talking $5 to $10 of services. In the case of Microsoft [Corp.], for every dollar of licensed product, youre talking about less than 10 cents.

Why wouldnt HP or IBM want to tap your segment of the market? Would they be attracted to make an offer for Open Text?

Youre going to find that over time, this is a space that is a major imperative for most organizations and customers. Certainly the incumbent enterprise software vendors are aware of that. Over time, the ECM [enterprise content management] market will reach a level of maturity and most of the vendors will be consolidated. The big fish eat the little fish, and every once in a while, a whale comes along and eats the big fish.

Are you describing your own fate?

Oh, absolutely. I think all software companies are in the food chain. Always. The question comes down to whether were talking about this year, next year or next decade. New entrepreneurial companies grow up, then they consolidate.

So you would be open to being acquired by a company like IBM at some point?

Yeah. I think thats just a natural evolution. If you look at the database industry, thats what happened there.

Where is ECM technology headed?

ECM is becoming the rallying point for unstructured data. Within ECM, there is the concept of the management of a document in its life cycle.

For example, in an automobile company, you could be designing a new car. You would have a team of people collaborating around documents. Youd use workflow to assign tasks, then publish the work on a Web site or incorporate it into a bill of materials in an ERP [enterprise resource planning] system. After its baked and done, you put it into an archive system. Then when you go to build your next project, you go into the archive to see what everyone did last time. That sort of cycle is being referred to as the life cycle of a document. It could be a video library of real-time meetings.

Under [the] Sarbanes-Oxley [Act], if you file a document with the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission], theres a requirement that there be a lot of backup documentation, like minutes of a meeting or e-mail messages—that sort of thing.

What new product releases can we look forward to in 2004?

Customers will see life-cycle management coming by way of the Open Text product line and Ixos integration. The other dramatic thing is multimedia: the ability to run real-time meetings, save them, reuse them, find them and play them back.

Is there a new release of Livelink coming in 2004?

Yes. The product management group will be publishing a road map, including release dates, of what the Open Text-Ixos integration means in the new year. Its probably coming out in February.

Do you have one customer that stands out as having achieved really great productivity?

Siemens [AG] uses both Open Text and Ixos. Its probably one of the top five ECM deployments, if not the largest, in the world. Siemens, like many multinationals, has 400,000 employees all over the world, in all the time zones and all the languages of the world. So its quite a challenge to get that organization to have the right hand know what the left hand is doing.