SAP

Join us for a Free Information Session on how an Automated Supply Chain can help ECM be better

Satisfaction Thermometer Measuring Happiness Fulfillment Level

As an ECM practitioner, how much thought do you give to the complex back-office infrastructure that supports your organization’s supply chain? You should; success as a digital enterprise will only come from being fully digital outside and inside. In other words, a fully customer-centric process that draws on information from across the enterprise is great, but it will quickly stall if fulfilment involves chaotic piles of inventory management reports and frantic phone calls. In fact, it’s a recipe for disaster. Go ahead and Google how much money and time it takes to win back a disgruntled customer, especially one who’s now using your carefully crafted social media tools to broadcast their dissatisfaction. Organizations in manufacturing, distribution, and retail face unique challenges when it comes to the supply chain and connecting with suppliers and/or buyers to exchange information related to transactions. Just keeping track of who you do business with, the right person to contact, and if they comply with your standards is a lot work–and that is long before you begin to process invoices and store information in your ECM system! That’s why we’re hosting a unique, free, half-day information session the day before Enterprise World kicks off for the front-office crowd to learn and experience how digital supply chain systems work and what they can add to overall business strategy, agility, and productivity. Please note: This is not a technical session! If you’re involved in anything from marketing to accounts payable to IT architecture, you’ll find the information here valuable. Join us on Tuesday, November 10 for this special educational session on digitizing and automating the supply chain. The session will include an overview of the benefits of automation, and a discussion of how outsourcing B2B integration to an expert can reduce costs and shorten implementation times. We’ll share a couple examples of how OpenText customers have transformed their B2B integration program through OpenText B2B Managed Services. The session will be led by Jeff Keefer, Global Director, B2B Managed Services at OpenText. Jeff is an expert at supply chain automation and is a trusted advisor in working with OpenText customers to enable supply chain automation through B2B integration and managed services. Yes, it may not be your job, but no one’s ever suffered from knowing too much about potential benefits, pitfalls, and solutions. And here’s your chance to hit Vegas a day early and gain insight into a whole, new area that really does affect your team’s performance. Plus, you’ll now be able to start peppering development meetings with knowledgeable references to terms like EDI and inventory turns! Looking forward to seeing you there.

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How many Clouds are enough to Archive Effectively? At Enterprise World, you’ll see the Answer is…One

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Imagine if your IT department announced that it had launched an automatic new cloud archiving system to house all your business emails in the cloud and let you to access them from your email program of choice. No more “mailbox is full” messages. No need to delete large attachments to stay within memory limits. Less drama when you lose your laptop or your laptop needs upgrading. All your emails will be instantly available on your new hardware. Then picture the following month your IT admin announces that they’ve created a second cloud archive system. This time for the files and documents you use to conduct day-to-day business. You’ll have access to all your files and documents across multiple devices–complete with version control so that you can recover an old version, if needed. Pretty sweet! But hold on…the next month, those industrious IT folks delight you further with a third archive repository. This one dedicated to your SAP related data and documents. It introduces new and useful features such as displaying thumbnail views of documents right in your SAP application, and all relevant documents are dynamically presented exactly where and when you need them in your business process. In the fourth month (why is this starting sound like a Christmas carol?), your prolific IT admin team announce an archive cloud which operates behind the scenes to tighten security and governance for your BPM data and documents. Each cloud archive system on its own is fantastic in its own right, but when you put them together, you’ve got four separate systems in the cloud; four logins, four places to search to find what you want, four siloes of information not integrated with each other. You can search them from their native apps, but wouldn’t it be great to have a central place to archive? That’s the thinking behind OpenText Archive Center, Cloud Edition. It’s an enterprise archiving service running in the OpenText Cloud as a public cloud service. Best of all, it draws on our extensive experience in archiving methodologies and technologies to be fully enterprise-class and scalable to meet your needs. You can start archiving SAP content today; expand to email and files tomorrow; and, when you’re ready, expand your enterprise archiving further by connecting to other file types in other systems using open standards. All your enterprise content–in one archive system in the cloud. I’m hoping you’ll be able to join me at Enterprise World 2015 as I present a breakout session ECM-405 Product Update: OpenText Archive Center Has Launched! – specifically about the archiving challenges that businesses face, and how the introduction of Archive Center Cloud Edition helps alleviate these issues.

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Spotlight On! Richard Mieras

Meet Richard Richard Mieras is a Senior Training Consultant who specializes in OpenText Content Server Systems Administration and SAP® Extended ECM courses. Over the years, Richard has delivered virtual and in-person training to multicultural audiences across North and South America and Asia. This year at Enterprise World (EW) Training, Richard hopes to connect with students from his training sessions. Q: What courses or workshops will you be leading this year? I am conducting virtual and face-to-face training on SAP® oriented courses, as well as Content Server Systems and Search Administration, Archive Server Administration, and Content Server Knowledge Fundamentals Courses [final instructor assignments for Enterprise World are still being determined]. Q: What’s your pillar of expertise? My expertise is focused mainly on the SAP Extended ECM courses, and Content Server Systems Administration. Q: How long have you been an instructor at EW? Officially, I have been in the Learning Services department at OpenText since 2005. Before that, I conducted training courses with the iXOS Software company, which was acquired by OpenText in 2004. Q: What’s your favorite part about being an instructor? What I enjoy most is being to be able to impart the understanding of a topic to our customers, partners and internal staff, enabling them to use the products we offer to their advantage in implementation. Q: What part of EW are you most looking forward to this year? Enterprise World is always our best opportunity to connect with colleagues we don’t get to see through the year, and to renew connections with clients and partners—both new and from previous training sessions. What I appreciate about EW is that we often meet the people we taught previously in a virtual training—now we see them in person. Q: What song best describes your work ethic? The Chopin Nocturne in E Flat. It’s complicated, requires lots of practice, and needs to be played often, like giving training on a topic that requires preparation and practice to get over the anxiety of missing a note. Q: What’s your favorite movie, book, and TV series? My favorite movie is The Big Lebowski, my favorite book is John Adams by David McCullough, and my favorite TV series is “The Wire”. Q: Which super power would you like to have and why? Like everybody, I would like to fly, which I do in my dreams sometimes—like swimming in the air as you would in water. Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to say to your students? Please connect with me on LinkedIn if you’re interested in a professional social connection. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardmieras Connect with Richard and attend his training sessions at Enterprise World 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada from November 8-10. To find out more information about the training program, or to register for Enterprise World training, visit our website.

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Accelerating B2B Managed Services with SAP

For those of you new to OpenText but not new to GXS, you may not know that for twenty years, OpenText has been a close partner of SAP. In fact, SAP awarded OpenText their prestigious SAP Pinnacle Award the last 8 years in a row. OpenText is the established leader in managing unstructured information in context of business processes in a SAP environment. Now, SAP and OpenText have announced an extension to this already successful partnership to include OpenText B2B Managed Services. OpenText B2B Managed Services is an outsourced solution for managing day-to-day B2B operations required when exchanging a wide variety of transactions with trading and business partners. Running on our B2B integration platform known as the OpenText Trading Grid, part of the OpenText Cloud, OpenText extends the SAP Business Network with its reach to the more than 600,000 trading partners currently connected to the OpenText Trading Grid. This partnership is a recognition of OpenText’s leadership in B2B Integration. Of course, supporting SAP with OpenText B2B Managed Services is nothing new. OpenText/GXS has worked with many companies around the world to manage their SAP and B2B integration projects. Whether it is helping companies integrate to multiple global instances of an SAP platform or providing integration to a newly installed instance of SAP, OpenText has a wealth of experience with managing such projects.

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New Forrester Report Cites OpenText as having “the broadest ECM backbone for enterprise applications”

The latest ECM analysis from highly respected Forrester Research has been released, and OpenText has been recognized as a leader in their evaluation of the most significant ECM software providers. Now, that’s always great news; our ECM solutions are consistently ranked at, or near, the top in every analyst’s reports, and we work very hard to ensure our offerings deserve that designation. But this one’s different. What’s special about this Forrester ranking for me and the rest of the ECM team here is the area of focus for this report. Entitled The Forrester Wave™: ECM Transactional Content Services, Q3 2015, this new analysis concentrates specifically on the field of transactional content management, in our view, the ability of ECM platforms to integrate with the lead applications that drive back-office business processes and help organize, extract value, and apply governance to the huge pool of information and data they generate. It’s an emerging priority for many organizations, and Forrester has deemed it worthy of its very own report this year. It’s also been a long-standing focus for OpenText, and that’s why we’re so thrilled to be recognized as a leader by Forrester. We’ve believed for some time now that organizations won’t be able to make the full transition to becoming successful, streamlined digital enterprises if they’re still trapped in a world of silos and isolated information. A wide variety of our customers (a couple of case studies are here and here) are now realizing the benefits of embedding ECM into their business processes and fully utilizing their transactional content to drive value and productivity. So, what is this “transactional content?” It’s the seemingly endless river of information that fuels enterprises; the invoices, statements, applications, communication, onboarding, and more that mostly emanates from sources outside the enterprise and has been traditionally ingested through a variety of isolated systems‑BPM, HCM, ERP, CRM, and others. There’s a lot of it within most enterprises, it’s highly structured, and it contains a significant percentage of their knowledge capital. For years, this information has generally been acquired, used to trigger an immediate process or task, and then been relegated to its respective repository. If it’s needed again, one-off access usually involves time-wasters like screen flips, log-ins, convoluted queries, emails, or even phone calls and walks down the hall‑not exactly productivity central and nowhere near good enough to efficiently paint the whole picture of a case or transaction. What’s more, there’s often been very little in the way of standard governance practices applied to the information housed within these processes. The answer lies not in extracting that information and transferring it to another repository, but in bringing organization, intelligence, and agility to it right where it’s sitting. By embedding the inherent organizational and governance strengths of ECM solutions into operational standbys such as SAP®, Oracle®, Microsoft®, and Salesforce®, organizations can tie them together and create a holistic, cross-enterprise information flow. After all, these lead applications are where all the action takes place, where the knowledge workers do their jobs, and where the value created by this information can be best used. Why not keep it all there? The newest generation of ECM offerings has the analytical, auto-classification, and integration capabilities to bridge the silos isolating each of these applications, facilitate a seamless information flow, and build a single, unified view of a transaction. Users effortlessly see everything they need, when they need it, efficiency and insight skyrockets, and all involved are way more responsive and productive. We believe that Forrester has acknowledged the growing importance of this strategy. We also feel that the fact that they’ve recognized OpenText as a leader is validation we’re on the right path.

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OpenText and SAP team up to provide global B2B Managed Services

For twenty years, OpenText has been a close partner of SAP. In fact, we won an SAP Pinnacle Award the last 8 years in a row. This year, OpenText was recognized as a SAP Pinnacle Awards 2015 Winner “Solution Extension Partner of the Year” in category Value Creation. So with a successful partnership like that – what do you do to improve it? Extend it SAP and OpenText have announced an extension to this already successful partnership to include OpenText B2B Managed Services. OpenText B2B Managed Services is a comprehensive B2B outsourcing solution that provides companies with the people, processes and technologies necessary to maintain complex B2B e-commerce programs. B2B Managed Services operates on the OpenText Trading Grid, part of the OpenText Cloud, a fully hosted integration platform and includes mapping, trading partner on-boarding, data quality and connectivity services. With B2B outsourcing from OpenText, companies can build and grow B2B networks without making additional investment in hardware, software or human resources. OpenText extends the SAP Business Network with its reach to the more than 600,000 trading partners currently connected to the OpenText Trading Grid. Supporting SAP with OpenText B2B Managed Services is nothing new. OpenText has worked with many companies around the world to manage their SAP and B2B integration projects. Whether it is helping companies integrate to multiple global instances of an SAP platform or providing integration to a newly installed instance of SAP, OpenText has a wealth of experience with managing such projects. Read the press release here.

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OpenText and SAP Run Together for Exceptional Customer Impact

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As we gear up for another year at SAPPHIRE, I’d like to reflect on the strong relationship that OpenText and SAP have shared for decades and look ahead to an exciting future together. For more than 20 years, we have worked together to empower the enterprise to manage its unstructured and structured information for business success. Our combined solutions make information more discoverable, manageable, secure, and valuable. Connecting SAP business suites with OpenText information suites delivers a powerful platform for innovation and opportunity. Together, we have: Transformed processing operations at Bumblebee Foods from being 100 percent reliant on paper to being 100 percent digital, with automated processes reducing costs by over 50 percent and significantly increasing efficiency. Positioned Alagasco for future growth through increased sustainability and performance. Centralized information has helped break down organizational silos, speed up sales processes, and maintain business continuity. Created a culture of innovation at Distell by empowering employees to share best practices and collaborate. As well as increasing productivity, the organization has managed its intellectual capital more effectively to enhance and protect its brand. As the world around us shifts to digital, the combined value that we deliver as partners grows exponentially. In celebration of this valued relationship, OpenText has been awarded the SAP Pinnacle Award for seven years in a row. Today, I’m pleased to announce that we have just received the 2015 SAP Pinnacle Award for “Solution Extension Partner of the Year”, making OpenText a recipient for the past eight years. This category honors partners who co-innovate with SAP to deliver exceptional customer impact. OpenText was selected for this year’s award based on our innovative approach that enriches and extends the capabilities and scope of SAP products and applications OpenText was formally presented with the 2015 SAP Pinnacle Award at the SAP Global Partner Summit last evening, in conjunction with SAPPHIRE® NOW, SAP’s international customer conference in Orlando, Florida. We’re on hand at this event to showcase the latest advancements in joint OpenText and SAP releases. Look for us at booth #130 at the conference where we’ll be demonstrating the power and flexibility of products like SAP Document Presentation, SAP Invoice Management, and Tempo Box Premium. We continue to build out the OpenText and SAP ecosystem. Our strategic solutions now support a broad range of SAP offerings—from HANA database and analytics to Simple Finance and the HANA Enterprise Cloud. Recent releases include HANA integrations for SAP Document Presentment by OpenText and SAP Invoice Management by OpenText—both designed to deliver deeper insight and content value, enhancing an organization’s process efficiency and the ability to make more strategic decisions. These extensions are available in the cloud, on premise, or as a hybrid solution. At Enterprise World 2014, our annual user conference, we introduced the OpenText Business Center for SAP Solutions, a platform for automating mission-critical business processes across the SAP business suite. We have now announced the general availability of this product. Using the OpenText Business Center for SAP, joint customers will be able to digitize entire processes in SAP—from capture to creation—without requiring complex configuration or programming resources. In the Digital-First World, all of an organization’s information and processes will be digital. This release is part of our commitment to simplify, transform, and accelerate business for the digital enterprise—enabling it to drive efficiency through digitization. In addition to expanding our support for SAP processes, we will be also be introducing Tempo Box Value Edition & Tempo Box Premium. Tempo Box Value Edition & Tempo Box Premium are secure solutions for sharing and synchronizing both personal and SAP enterprise content across different platforms and devices. Both deliver tight integration into SAP Extended ECM, giving users greater freedom to share and work with business content across any device, while still maintaining information governance and control. Tempo Box Value Edition & Tempo Box Premium enhance the SAP ecosystem by securely extending content tied to SAP business processes beyond the firewall to non-SAP users, including unlimited external users such as customers, suppliers, and partners across the business network. The ability to manage unstructured information in the enterprise plays a pivotal role in digital transformation—and it is a key capability that the OpenText and SAP ecosystem delivers. Our partnership continues to drive product breakthroughs that produce impactful and tangible results for our customers. Together, we are laying the foundation for a Digital-First World for over 4,500 customers and 50+ million active users—across two decades of innovation and into the future. Read the press release. Visit our website.

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Did You Know That 80% of High Tech Companies are ‘High Adopters’ of B2B Integration Technologies?

A few weeks ago I posted a blog summarising the automotive related results from a recent B2B study that OpenText sponsored. The aim of the study was to see if there was a direct correlation between B2B integration and how it impacts supply chain performance. I will take a look at the CPG related results in my next blog but as I am spending this week in the heart of Silicon Valley over on the US West Coast I thought it only appropriate to discuss the high tech results in this blog article. We recently hosted a webinar with IDC to discuss the findings from the study. You will be able to get access to this and other downloads related to our study at the end of this blog. The global high tech industry is going through a major renaissance at the moment, new business opportunities being presented in the automotive industry, wearable devices and the internet of things sectors. In fact I would say that high tech companies are investing more in the internet of things related technologies than any other industry sub-sector at the moment, for example Intel’s investment in a new generation of chips for embedded devices. With all this focus on new investment areas it presents further opportunities for consolidation across the industry and only last week NXP semiconductors announced their intention to acquire their smaller rival Freescale Semiconductors. Continued M&A activity will present new challenges for B2B managers across the industry as they are forced to consolidate multiple B2B networks on to a single global B2B network. Increased regulatory compliance such as Conflict Minerals compliance is starting to be adopted by more regions around the world as a way of removing so called ‘3TG’ minerals from global supply chains. Increased regulatory compliance is driving a need for companies to think about how they manage their trading partner communities and how ultimately they should be working more collaboratively with their global trading partners. Finally this week will see high tech supply chains gearing up for the launch of the next big consumer must have gadget, Apple’s iWatch is finally being released. Apple is a past master at readying their supply chain for such product launches but it does nicely illustrate how the high tech industry has become so consumer driven in nature. So now let me discuss a few of the high tech related results from our study: 79% said they exchange B2B transactions electronically with their trading partners . I guess there is no surprise here that high tech companies have a high expectation to exchange business documents electronically with their trading partners. As with the automotive industry, the high tech industry is truly global in nature and in the case of semi-conductor chips they are manufactured in a multi-stage process that embraces many different production and finishing locations around the world. To try and encourage greater participation from its trading partners around the world, the high tech industry introduced its own highly successful XML based document format called RosettaNet which is still very much in use across the industry today. 58% said that B2B adoption had reduced their procurement costs. Greater visibility into the supply chain and in particular inventory locations around the world meant that high tech companies could reduce their procurement costs by being able to better optimise inventory from multiple locations around the world. In addition, the costs and time to manually process transactions across the procure to pay process can be reduced by providing high tech trading partners with the right B2B tools according to their technical capabilities. 54% said that shipment status was one of the most important B2B transactions in use across their industry today . Knowing when supplier shipments are going to turn up at the factory gate is crucial to the smooth running of today’s production lines. Connecting to a single, global, cloud based B2B platform such as OpenText Trading Grid provides the end to end visibility that high tech manufacturers require. It is not just improved visibility into the direct materials supply chain but also in the aftermarket repair business where field service teams need to know when spare parts will arrive, being able to tell a customer that their high tech product will be repaired by a specific date is key to improving customer satisfaction levels. 47% said that competing IT projects such as ERP were a barrier to starting B2B projects . Given that ERP projects such as a major SAP deployment are the most expensive and hence high profile IT project under the control of the CIO, it is no wonder that ERP projects tend to get 100% attention from IT resources during a roll out phase. Having all IT resources diverted to an ERP deployment can potentially disrupt other IT initiatives such as a B2B program for example. Then again I would argue that if 47% of high tech companies see ERP as a barrier to B2B adoption, I would say that during ERP implementation this provides the ideal opportunity to think about integrating ERP and B2B platforms together. ERP B2B integration is a key reason why many high tech companies have deployed our Managed Services platform to provide a single outsourced integration platform. So the barrier in this case certainly provides the opportunity for B2B integration. 42% said they processed invoices in real time with trading partners . In Europe for example, with 28 member countries of the European Union, there are 28 different tax compliance laws, 28 different ways to apply digital signatures and 28 different ways to archive invoices. If you are a high tech company based across the border in one of the Eastern European countries such as Slovenia then navigating your way through invoicing compliance in Western Europe is a complex process. The high tech industry is not only consumer driven but it is fast moving in nature and its suppliers need to make sure they can be paid quickly in order to make sure that they can fulfil orders to their numerous customers in a timely manner. Adopting B2B integration and in particular electronic invoicing can significantly reduce invoice processing times and by working with a company such as OpenText that offers electronic invoicing solutions it means that you can work with suppliers in any country, irrespective of the invoice regulations that may be present in these countries. In fact one further piece of analysis that we did as part of this project found that automating invoicing processes through the use of B2B integration technologies such as electronic invoicing had increased the speed of invoice processing by 156%. Overall, the high tech industry had the highest level of electronic B2B exchange of all the industries surveyed with nearly 80% being ‘high adopters’ of B2B integration technologies. As mentioned earlier this is due to the fast paced nature of the industry, with nearly 99% of high tech respondents performing two inventory turns per month, and the need to have a highly responsive supply chain network that can adapt to continually changing market dynamics. This is amplified by the diverse range of trading partners involved across the high tech supply chain, from contract manufacturers (who make products for many different customers) to distributors, and fabless semiconductor manufacturers to raw material providers. Exploiting new market opportunities over the next three years was one of the key initiatives being undertaken by high tech companies. 57% of South Korean respondents, of which a high proportion were from the high tech industry, said that supply chain complexity was a key barrier to B2B adoption, however I would argue that if companies chose a cloud based B2B platform then this would not only help to reduce supply chain complexity but it would help to provide the flexibility and scalability that the fast moving high tech industry urgently needs. If you would like to download your own copy of the new B2B study from OpenText then please complete the registration form here. When you have registered you will also be able to get access to an on demand webinar that we recently recorded with IDC, a copy of the webinar slides and an infographic that illustrates some of the key findings from the study.

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Forget the Oscars, Tata Motors Won a Bigger Award in Mumbai

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending our Innovation Tour event in Mumbai, the first leg of a multi-city tour of the world to showcase our Enterprise Information Management solutions and how they help companies move to the digital first world! The event was very well attended and it was good to see keen interest being shown in our new offerings such as Actuate and Core and our other more mature EIM solutions. Enterprise World has traditionally been our key event of the year, but the Innovation Tour provides a way for OpenText to get closer to our customers around the world, Mumbai was no exception with keen interest shown in our expo hall. I have been to India before, two years ago in fact, to meet with an automotive industry association that looks after the ICT needs of the entire Indian automotive industry. Back then, the discussion was focused around B2B integration. However, last week’s event in  Mumbai showcased all solutions from the OpenText portfolio. One of the interesting solution areas being showcased by one of our customers was Business Process Management (BPM) and it is only fitting that one of our Indian based customers won an award for their deployment of BPM. Why fitting? Well, India has long been the global hub for business process outsourcing, so I guess you could say there is a natural interest in improving the management of business processes in India. OpenText has a strong presence in the Indian market. OpenText presented a number of awards during the event, and Tata Motors was the worthy winner of the award for the best deployment of BPM. Incidentally, Tata Motors also won the global Heroes Award at last year’s Enterprise World event for their deployment of our Cordys BPM Solution. So who are Tata Motors, I hear you ask? Well, they are the largest vehicle manufacturer in India with consolidated revenues of $38.9 billion. Tata Motors is part of a large group of companies which includes Tata Steel, Jaguar Land Rover in the UK, Tata Technologies and many other smaller companies that serve the domestic market in India. Tata Group is fast becoming a leading OpenText customer showcasing many different EIM solutions. For example, Jaguar Land Rover uses OpenText Managed Services to manage the B2B communications with over 1,200 suppliers following divestiture from Ford in 2009. Tata Steel in Europe also uses our Managed Services platform to help consolidate eleven separate EDI platforms and three web portals onto a single, common platform. So, simplification and consolidation of IT and B2B infrastructures is a common theme across Tata Group, and Tata Motors is no different with their implementation of OpenText BPM. Tata Motors has struggled over the years to exchange information electronically with over 750 vehicle dealers across India. Varying IT skills, multiple business processes, combined with having to use a notoriously difficult utilities and communications infrastructure across the country was really starting to impact Tata Motor’s business. In addition, their IT infrastructure had to support over 35,000 users and there were over 90 different types of business application in use across 1,200 departments of the company. So ensuring  that accurate, timely information could be exchanged across both internal and external users was proving to be a huge problem for Tata Motors. Step forward, OpenText BPM! Tata Motors decided to depoy our Cordys BPM solution as a SOA based backed platform to connect all their business applications and more importantly provide a common platform to help exchange information electronically across their extensive dealer network. Even though they had deployed Siebel CRM across their dealer network, Tata Motors faced a constant challenge of having to process a high volume of manual, paper based information, quite often this information would be inaccurate due to mis-keying of information. A simple mistake, but when scaled up across 750 dealers, it can have a serious impact on the bottom line and more importantly impact customer satisfaction levels with respect to new vehicle deliveries or spare parts related orders. Tata Motors had a number of goals for this particular project: Implement a Service Oriented Architecture – Primary objective was to setup a SOA environment for leveraging existing services and hence avoid re-inventing the wheel. They also wanted to use this platform to streamline the current integrations between multiple business systems. Process Automation / Business Process Management – They had a lot of manual, semi-automated of completely automated processes. Manual or semi-automated processes were inefficient and in some cases ineffective as well. Some of their automated processes were actually disconnected with actual business case scenarios. So the goal for implementing BPM was to bring these processes more nearer to ‘business design’, thus improving efficiency and process adherence. Uniform Web Services Framework – Tata Motors goal was to try and establish a single source of web services that could convert existing functionalities of underlying service sources into inter-operable web services. So, what were the primary reasons for Tata Motors choosing OpenText BPM? It was a SOA enabler, its business process automation capabilities, comprehensive product for application development, minimizes the application development time and improved cost effectiveness. Their BPM implementation covered two main areas: Enterprise Applications Integration – mainly deals with inward facing functionalities of employee and manufacturing related process applications. They had many applications but they had a common fault, they did not follow SOA principles. Web services had to be developed inside every application which was very inefficient from a time and resources point of view. In addition, if an application had to connect to SAP then it was an independent, unmanaged and insecure connection. Customer Relationship & Dealer Management Systems Integration –Tata Motors is the biggest player in the commercial vehicles sector in India and one of the biggest in terms of passenger car related sales, with over 750 dealers scattered across India. The dealerships are managed using Siebel CRM-DMS implementation but with many changes being rolled out across the system it needed a supporting platform to effectively manage this process. Cordys became the primary environment for developing CRM-DMS applications. So in summary, Cordys BPM has been integrated with SAP, Siebel CRM-DMS, Email/Exchange Server, Active Directory, Oracle Identity Manager, SMS Gateway and mobile applications across Android and iOS. The Cordys implementation also resulted in a number of business benefits including, improved process efficiency, stronger process adherence, built on a SOA based platform, significant cost and time savings. The project has already achieved its ROI ! Moving forwards OpenText BPM will act as a uniform, centrally managed and secure web services base for all applications used across Tata Motors landscape, irrespective of the technology in which it is developed. The platform will also provide an evolving architecture to mobilise existing applications and they plan to integrate to an in-house developed document management system. Finally, the go forward plan is to move their Cordys implementation to the cloud for improved management of their infrastructure. I have visited many car manufacturers over the years and one company head quartered in the Far East had over 300 dealers in Europe and each one had been allowed to implement their own CRM and DMS environments to manage their dealer business processes. Prior to the acquisition of GXS (my former company) by OpenText, I had to inform them that GXS didn’t have a suitable integration platform to help seamlessly connect all 300 dealers to a single platform. With OpenText BPM we can clearly achieve such an integration project now and Tata Motors is certainly a shining light in terms of what is achievable from an extended enterprise application integration point of view. Congratulations Tata Motors! For more information on OpenText BPM solutions, please CLICK HERE. Finally, I just want to say many thanks to my OpenText colleagues in India; it was a very successful event and a team effort to make it happen. For more information on our Innovation Tour schedule, please CLICK HERE

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Where Is the Data You Visualize?

Remember how BI companies used to market big data a few years ago? Most of them just connected to a Hadoop cluster, made a query, visualized a report or dashboard and then hit the “Big Data Press Release” button. This practice raises a fundamental question: Where is the data you visualize? The choices lay between two extremes: On the one end of the spectrum you query a data source and you generate visualizations directly with the data and on the other end of the spectrum you query a pre-generated and pre-aggregated data source that is dedicated to analytics and visualization. This data source used to be OLAP cubes, but now enhanced in-memory techniques are emerging, many of which use columnar database technology. The choice you make depends on a number of factors, including the query speed you require, the volume and variety of your data sources, and your need to display information in real time. It also depends on the size of your wallet. Although the two techniques are often used simultaneously, it is increasingly clear that the industry is moving towards real-time visualizations based upon an analytical database. This creates economies of scale, reduces errors and speeds up implementation. Close your eyes for a few seconds and imagine a BI project without data modeling. Analytics, visualizations and databases are slowly merging together.  Examples of technology in this area include SAP HANA, “software on silicon” database enhancements, and open source projects like Apache Spark. While it is important to keep in mind where the industry is heading, for obvious reasons (including cost, security and performance),  in-memory techniques will not disappear overnight. Now let’s think about different user categories (as we defined them here) and their need for in-memory data queries. I would chart them like this: Data Discoverers are the users whose work is most vulnerable to the industry move toward in-memory data queries, I believe. And this leads me to the following conclusion: BI companies that have focused on smart and good-looking data discovery tools have grown tremendously during the last couple of years. But that growth is not here to stay because the underlying technology simply relies too much on in-memory data queries.  

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Cloud Fax Takes Information Management to the Next Level

To this point we’ve discussed the key benefits of enterprise fax services in general – notably their ability to enable cost effective on-demand faxing while providing high degrees of flexibility and scalability. There are however specific features beyond these general descriptions worth mentioning. These features speak primarily to how both individual users and business systems leverage fax technology to optimize enterprise information management. From an individual user perspective, integrating fax with existing email and desktop applications is the main example – whether you integrate with Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes or another desktop program. This enables users to fax files without first printing them – turning a multi-step process into one that takes seconds. Your fax service should be able to convert common desktop file types – like PDF, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint as well as JPEG files to images for faxing without user intervention. Enterprise fax technology should also offer integrations that merge fax with back office applications and systems, multi-function devices (MFDs) as well as terminal systems that support “print only” functions. All of these methods make faxing convenient as it allows users and systems to strategically manage and send documents almost simultaneously. In other words fax technology lets you access various information management platforms and cut the typical cost and productivity drains associated with using traditional standalone fax machines. Enterprise fax services also offer add-on capabilities that streamline operations with regards to certain document management processes. For example you can incorporate capture technology that automatically extracts and converts inbound fax documents into data before delivering it into your unique workflow. Imagine you’re a supplier that receives sales orders via paper fax, but you’re experiencing lags in your business cycle from manually rekeying order information into your ERP system. That’s where these add-on document capture and workflow services can help. They will convert those paper fax orders into electronic data and deliver it into your sales ordering system, like SAP for example, based on your unique business rules. From there you can also add notifications alerting your procurement department an order has arrived, and is in process. Workflow examples like this, where fax plays a key role, can extend to everything from accounts receivable to loan application processing. NOTE: This is an installment of a Blog post series on enterprise-class cloud fax services. To view other posts in the series please refer to the following links: What Makes Cloud Fax Services Enterprise Class Assessing Cloud Architecture and Fax Performance Recovering from Fax Disaster Fax Compliance in an Ever Changing World Cloud Fax Services Make Administration Easy Simplify Global IT Support with Cloud Fax Know Your Cloud Fax Service Provider’s Strengths

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How do you Manage a B2B Environment Following Divestiture?

There has been one story dominating the media in the UK over the past few months, Scotland’s attempt to seek independence from the United Kingdom. Despite losing the referendum to go their own way, Scotland will gain extra powers from the UK government to help offer a better standard of living for their population and improve growth prospects for the country. The interesting thing here is what would have happened if Scotland had broken away from the UK. Everything from running the public services and utilities infrastructures, through to managing revenue generation initiatives such as setting tax levels through to the technology infrastructure to support the running of the country in an independent capacity. Not to mention the currency, border control and defence spending issues as well. Even though the independence vote was lost, there are synergies here with companies that are going through a similar situation, namely going through some form of divestiture from their parent organisation. There have been countless divestitures in recent years as companies look to cut costs and at the same time raise valuable funds to grow their business or diversify into new markets. The chart below from Deloitte highlights some of the reasons why companies divest operations. Whenever a company goes through a divestiture process, one of the most important things to ensure is that the business can continue operating with minimum disruption. This is not easy, especially when IT infrastructures have to be untangled between the two organisations. The divestiture process is incredibly complex and it will affect all areas of a business, including the external supply chain. Unravelling a B2B infrastructure from a parent company can appear at first to be a monumental task, not only having to establish the technical components of the new B2B infrastructure but also ensuring that external trading partners can be effectively managed during the transition process. For this reason many companies will establish transition teams to oversee all aspects of a divestiture process. At the end of the day the newly divested business must continue to make money from day one and so the role of the transition team, especially relating to managing the new B2B infrastructure is critical. Now there are a number of options open to the transition team with respect to the B2B infrastructure. Taking the right course of action or direction for the divested operation’s B2B strategy is a critical decision, if you go in the wrong direction it could restrict future growth opportunities for the business. So which path do you take? Firstly, a divested operation could continue to use their existing B2B platform which for many companies would probably be the easiest option for them to follow. However there are complexities with extracting the B2B platform from the parent company and then continuing to manage trading partner relationships etc. Secondly they could decide to introduce a brand new platform themselves or adopt the B2B platform from the new owner. Either of these options will mean severe disruption to the divested operation’s business processes and trading partner relationships. Finally they could decide to outsource the management of their entire B2B platform to a trusted partner. Following a divestiture, especially if the company is acquired by a private equity firm, the company will need to be focused on their core competencies. This will be manufacturing goods and bringing revenue into the business, not having to worry about how they manage their B2B infrastructure on an ongoing basis. Therefore out of the three possible options, outsourcing is the best possible route for managing a B2B infrastructure and any accompanying trading partner relationships. After all what does a private equity firm know about running a B2B infrastructure? This is where OpenText™ Managed Services can help. Whichever route the divested operation decides to take, they will have a relatively short period of time to transition to the new B2B platform. Typically, a parent company would give the divested operation anywhere between 6 to 18 months to become totally self-sufficient in how they manage their B2B infrastructure. Establishing a B2B infrastructure in a divested operation is intrinsically linked to the overall IT infrastructure that will also need to be established in the divested business. Networks and routers have to be setup, internet connections have to established, PC’s and Laptops have to be configured, email systems have to be setup for each user. In addition, ERP systems have to be rolled out, CRM systems have to be setup within the sales and marketing departments and IT systems have to be deployed in new warehouses and logistics facilities. Now I haven’t even discussed what needs to be done from a B2B perspective yet, but already you can see that the IT infrastructure alone, which will help to support the B2B platform, is incredibly complex. As for the B2B infrastructure, the divested operation will need to develop or possibly migrate document maps to the new platform, this could typically range from 100 to a 1000 maps. Not all of these maps would need to be created from scratch, in one example I have heard about recently, one third of the maps for a divested operation were brought across from the parent company, one third were transferred, but required a few customisations and the remainder needed to be created from scratch. Mapping is a complex and time consuming process, would your company be able to undertake this internally?, would your B2B team have the skills to do this or would those skills remain with the parent company? Another common area of concern is how to integrate to an ERP platform. A manufacturing company, especially one with manufacturing plants all over the world will have to somehow re-integrate its B2B platform to the ERP platform. The longer this process is delayed, the more chance there is for duplicate data being entered into purchasing systems, which then leads to a lot of manual rework and rekeying of data to ensure the view of the information in the ERP platform is similar to the view in the B2B environment. Being able to integrate these two platforms as quickly as possible, to ensure one seamless, real time view of information is essential. Again, would your company be able to undertake this integration activity yourself or would you have to seek help from an outside provider? The other area of importance from a B2B transition point of view is managing the external community of trading partners. During the transition phase, the company still needs to be able to order and take delivery of goods from suppliers, they will still need to get their manufactured goods distributed around the world and more importantly each trading partner will need to be kept up to date with what is happening during the transition to the new B2B environment at the divested operation. OpenText™ Managed Services has helped over 800 companies outsource the management of their B2B infrastructure. With many years’ experience of supporting some of the biggest companies in the world, OpenText is well positioned to help divested operations maintain continuity with their B2B platform and their trading partner community. There are five key areas where Managed Services has been deployed to help divested operations manage their B2B infrastructures. Document Mapping – This is by far the most popular outsourcing request that we have seen, potentially hundreds of document maps will need to be transferred to the divested operation. Companies could decide to move the maps as is, move and modify or write completely new maps. Either way, the divested operation is unlikely to have in-house skills to create their own maps. In fact mapping skills are likely to remain within in the parent company. OpenText has a dedicated mapping centre of excellence to create document maps of any type and skills to map to ERP systems or to any specific industry standards. ERP Integration – As with document mapping, a divested operation may lose access to valuable ERP implementation personnel following a divestiture. OpenText has been working with many companies to help integrate their B2B platform to ERP related business processes. This ensures that externally sourced information can flow seamlessly into the ERP system. OpenText™ Managed Services has been integrated with a range of different ERP platforms, including SAP where we have experience of creating a range of IDOC document types to support key business processes. Trading Partner Management – Trading partners will need to be managed during and after a divestiture has taken place. The newly divested operation will have to maintain these relationships so that supply chains are not interrupted and the supply of goods can continue as normal. OpenText offers, a number of trading partner management offerings, in local language around the world. This includes training the trading partners in how to use all aspects of a new B2B service, testing connectivity and document exchange capabilities and finally offering a number of performance dashboards so that the trading partner community can be effectively monitored. Global B2B Support – Loss of support from a parent organisation means that global B2B support services will have to be provided to maintain global trading capabilities. OpenText offers a truly global 24/7 ‘follow the sun’ support service. End users are able to speak with multi-lingual support representatives who will be fully trained in the specific capabilities of the divested operation’s business processes Technology / Legacy Platform Upgrade – Divestitures provide the ideal opportunity to upgrade or introduce new B2B technologies. In the past, the parent company may not have allowed certain technologies or processes to be introduced simply because they did not have the skills to implement or support them. OpenText supports both legacy and the latest internet communication protocols, thus ensuring that trading partners can be connected irrespective of which communication protocol they may prefer to use. OpenText also offers a number of web based B2B solutions that allow any trading partner, no matter what their technical capability, to trade electronically with the divested operation. For more information on how OpenText™ Managed Services can help your business please click here or alternatively take a look at the SlideShare presentation below. In a future blog I will discuss how companies are using periods of restructuring to undertake digital transformation projects.

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The Evolution of the Digital Manufacturing Business

In my last blog entry I discussed my own adoption of ‘digital’ technology over the years and how digital was currently going through another renaissance. However compared to the 1980’s when the adoption of digital technology was consumer driven, today it is the business world that is embracing digital. Before I discuss the future of the manufacturing digital business, especially as we enter the so called ‘fourth industrial revolution’ (or Industry 4.0 as it has become known among German manufacturers and highlighted in the above diagram from DFKI, 2011), I just wanted to use this blog entry to discuss how digital information has found its way into every department of a manufacturing operation over the past few decades. As I explained in my previous blog entry it was the design department that led the digital journey of many manufacturing companies. In the 1970s, design departments were just starting to introduce 2D Computer Aided Design (CAD) packages to try and automate manual drafting processes. Companies, mainly large manufacturers such as Ford and Boeing, were also investing heavily in mainframe computer systems to manage MRP and EDI systems. At the time, mainframe based solutions for running 2D CAD packages were expensive but they helped to speed up the design process and ensure that drawings were more accurate. Meanwhile on the shop floor, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) were just starting to be introduced to help automate certain equipment used in a manufacturing process. The introduction of PLC’s and other automated handling systems heralded the start of the third industrial revolution. In the 1970’s, digital information was really confined to the design and production departments. As I discuss the next few decades I will explain how information has become more digitised and hence more ‘ pervasive’ across the various departments in a manufacturing operation. Moving into the 1980’s, companies started to introduce 3D wireframe CAD models and this was really the beginning of building a stronger digital relationship between the design and production departments. The machine tool paths required to manufacture a component could be applied directly to the 3D CAD model and was subsequently used to drive Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines, ie machining information is driven directly from the external surface of the 3D CAD model. In addition, robotic arms were introduced to production lines to help automate assembly procedures. Smaller mainframe servers started to be installed to support the needs of the design office and the production department started to introduce CNC machining and MRP II software on dedicated servers. As manufacturers started to embrace Just-In-Time production systems, especially in the automotive industry, purchasing departments increased the use of EDI to automate and speed up the procurement process using Value Added Networks to connect with an increasingly global network of trading partners. The 1990’s saw the use of digital information explode across the manufacturing business. Design offices were moving from 3D wireframe to 3D solid and assembly modelling. Assembly modelling managed the relationships, ie positional information, between different 3D CAD models that made up a complete product and allowed detailed Bill of Materials to be compiled. It also allowed other information to be applied to the ‘assembly tree’, for example material, designer, and supplier type of information. The 3D CAD models could be used for other pre-production activities, for example creating rapid prototyping (3D printing) models to test conceptual designs, taking CAD models into a finite element analysis package to test stress levels across a component and create high quality 3D renderings and complex animations that could be used for marketing purposes. In addition, customers could put on Virtual Reality headsets and go on virtual tours of their products. This was really the decade when the ‘Virtual Product’ was introduced, some companies defined this as Electronic Product Definition (EPD). During the mid-1990s and as the internet started to become more pervasive, manufacturers started to build intranet and extranets to support the increasing volume of digital information being produced by their design and manufacturing operations. With the introduction of higher speed networks this was the decade where digital design information started to cross seamlessly into other manufacturing departments. MRP II systems evolved into ERP systems and as manufacturers started to expand their network of plants around the world they implemented a different ERP instance to manage the production operations for each plant location. During the same period, companies started to replace mainframe based systems with smaller, desktop based UNIX workstations. During this decade the 3D digital mock-up evolved still further and companies were trying to recreate the entire product within the design system. Complete digital representations of cars, planes and ships were being developed using new functionality such as clash detection, assembly/dis-assembly animations and simulation software. In addition, comprehensive web based data management systems were being deployed to manage the ever growing volumes of CAD data and ensure that globally dispersed design teams could get access to a central repository of design information. Marketing departments were able to use digital mock-ups as part of their product launches and for developing collateral and other supporting technical documentation. Meanwhile, RFID technology was starting to be used more widely within the confines of the factory for tracking goods or pieces of equipment. The development of web portals containing digital product information meant that field support teams could get remote access to information relating to a product, for example technical drawings and other associated maintenance information. Companies also started to establish content portals for storing other information created by Microsoft related products for example. During this decade companies started to replace expensive UNIX workstations with PC workstations and high end laptop PCs. Companies were also starting to consider how a complete digital representation of a product could be archived and handed to a client. For example as well as an airplane manufacturer receiving a physical jet engine to fit to an aircraft, they would also receive a digital representation of the engine which would help with the ongoing service and maintenance of that engine for the next decade or so whilst it was in service. During this decade companies expanded their ability to share and manage information using collaborative Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions. Over the last few years, manufacturers have been decentralising their design offices into countries such as China and India. This was to allow local market needs to be quickly included in product designs. For example Audi has established a design office in China so that they can develop longer wheel base cars, as Chinese consumers prefer to be driven rather than drive themselves. The introduction of high speed wireless networks helped to mobilise digital design information with the introduction of PLM focused mobile apps to review 3D designs on a tablet device for example. Even the sales teams are able to show 3D design information on a tablet device due to the availability of ‘lightweight’ 3D CAD models that can be exchanged across the internet in a relatively short time. 3D printing devices are seeing a renaissance as the price of the technology has come down considerably and it has gained wide spread consumer interest, especially during 2014, where numerous applications for 3D printed models have entered the media. Field service or maintenance teams can now access digital information through wearable devices such as Google Glass and assembly lines are seeing more humanoid style robots being deployed. For example Foxconn plans to deploy more than a million humanoid robots to support their contract manufacturing operations around the world. Finally there are drone devices, despite some early PR opportunities from Amazon and their drone based delivery service I think we are a few years away from this type of service entering the market, however drones do have a potential role to play in the service and maintenance area. From a technology point of view we are now entering the so called fourth industrial revolution where nearly every device will be connected to the internet and allow almost continuous data streams to populate in memory databases such as SAP HANA. The Internet of Things (IoT) is likely to transform the manufacturing sector over the next few years and this is an area that I discussed extensively in an earlier blog entry. Companies will start to deploy more cloud based solutions to support their operations and social media tools will start to be embraced in a more widespread manner than they have been so far. The Future, Introduction of the ‘Smart Factory’? So where do we go next?, the IoT is going to transform manufacturing operations considerably over the next decade and CIOs around the world are starting to work out how they will embrace the IoT across their respective businesses. I think we will slowly move from digital manufacturing to ‘autonomous manufacturing’. Due to the sheer amount of connected devices and hence closed loop systems that will be deployed across a manufacturing organisation, we will see ‘Smart Factories’ start to evolve. This video from Bosch shows how advanced they are with respect to developing a smart factory concept. One thing’s for sure, the sheer volume of unstructured Big Data and Big Content that will come from IoT connected devices is going to grow exponentially over the coming years. If this information can be ‘harvested’ and analysed efficiently then quicker business decisions can be made to improve the overall efficiency of the manufacturing process. In future blog entries I will discuss how OpenText can help manufacturing operations manage all aspects of their digital enterprise.

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Choosing the right fax server: Production Faxing and Application Integrations

Production Faxing If you have identified a business process or workflow involving faxes that are generated “automatically” (typically without human involvement), this section is particularly important. Automated faxing, or production faxing, is a term used to describe a means by which the application sends documents to the fax server, and the fax server then delivers the documents reliably as faxes, secure email or both. A fax server that has production fax capabilities should integrate seamlessly with back-office applications that produce batch-oriented documents. As a result, the fax server ingests the document from the back-office system, creates and formats the documents, and then delivers them as individual faxes, complete with notifications of delivery status and a traceable audit trail.Seek a solution that offers tools to receive data from network folders or print streams of large batch jobs (invoices, purchase orders, for example) and can reliably send them to unique recipients–fully unattended and automated. A production fax solution should have the ability to create automated notifications of the progress of each production fax batch job, and more importantly, each document within the group.Most fax servers will integrate with virtually any back-office applications with integration tools, modules and APIs, including those that support embedded scripting command languages, XML, JAVA, and COM. However, some fax servers offer pre-built, certified integrations to applications such as SAP® and Oracle®.Connector for SAP – Check to see if the fax solution has a prebuilt connector for SAP so that you can create, send and receive faxes from SAP. You can customize fax cover sheets either through SAP or the fax server. Use this integration to send batches of faxes at once where you can submit faxes to be grouped into a batch and sent later at a prescheduled time. Need to adjust your dialing rules? Advanced integrations allow configuration of special dialing rules that can modify outgoing fax numbers above and beyond the SAP “exception rules”. Connectors for Oracle – Check to see if your fax server has a prebuilt connector for Oracle so that you can create, send and receive faxes from Oracle systems such as Oracle E-Business Suite foundation or Oracle 9i applications. Use this integration to automate workflows with Oracle systems, making document delivery pains a thing of the past. Application Integrations There is a second subset of integrations known as application integrations–a good example of this is fax servers interoperating with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems. It can be thought of as production fax in reverse. They are similar however inasmuch as they both are considered automated application integrations–meaning the workflows (whether inbound or outbound related) are both unattended by personnel and thus fully automated. Fax servers should offer specific integrations to the most popular systems. Alternatively, fax servers should provide a comprehensive set of custom integration tools to build integrations ad hoc. Inbound fax documents and their metadata can be delivered outside of the fax server where a multitude of applications can access these documents and their metadata. Preferably, a fax server would have pre-built integrations for leading document management applications to send existing documents, create a new document as a fax, and drag and drop a document into the explorer view of the fax library. Search for fax servers with pre-built ECM integrations with: · Microsoft SharePoint® · IBM FileNet® · OpenText eDOCS · OpenText Content Server And finally, many organizations have built custom integrations for their in-house applications to interface with their fax servers. Most fax server providers offer a complete suite of integration tools like APIs, SDKs, and command languages to get the jobs done efficiently. Custom integrations require that a fax server offer a suite of tools including XML, JAVA, COM and advanced Web Services. Integrating a fax server solution with ERP, ECM and other back-end applications is one of the most efficient uses of fax server capabilities. Understanding your integration needs will help you evaluate and choose the right fax server for you. Coming up next – Choosing the right fax server: Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents. 1. What is the Business Need? 2. Desktop, Email and MFP Integrations 3. Production (Automatic) Faxing and Application Integrations 4. Easy Routing and Storage of Electronic Fax Documents 5. Security, Privacy and Compliance 6. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery 7. Ease of Administration and Administrative Tools 8. Telephony Compatibility

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OpenText and SAP—Structuring the Unstructured for Competitive Advantage

Last week I had the privilege of delivering a keynote at SAP’s annual Sapphire Now conference. For more than two decades now, SAP and OpenText have teamed up to help our customers maximize the potential of their information. Our partnership is symbiotic and forward-looking. As the world around us shifts to digital, the combined value we deliver grows exponentially. In our 2020 Agenda we outline how managing information effectively is a requirement for digital transformation. The ability to structure the unstructured information in the enterprise is part of this evolution—and a key capability that the OpenText and SAP ecosystem delivers. Only 20% of enterprise information exists inside an ERP system. The other 80%, the unstructured information, resides on servers inside the organization or in the cloud. Bringing this information together—connecting business suites with information suites—is a unifying force that produces a powerful foundation for innovation and opportunity. During my keynote, I showcased the amazing accomplishments of telco giant T-Mobile. Kari Escobedo, Vice President of IT Development at T-Mobile USA was on hand at the event to describe how the company has re-invented itself as the “uncarrier” and, in the process, revolutionized the industry. By replacing heavy-handed contracts and policies with engaging customer experiences, they have deepened customer loyalty and grown their market share to become the fastest growing wireless carrier in the United States. Central to their “uncarrier” strategy is turning customer information into customer insight and satisfaction. Watch the video of my presentation to hear the T-Mobile story and discover how information was pivotal to their business transformation. As the year 2020 approaches, one thing is certain: information will be ubiquitous and it will be the key to success. By connecting, controlling, and harnessing value from your structured and unstructured information, you can join the likes of T-Mobile, embrace the digital age, and lead your organization to success. I also invite you to read our 2020 Agenda for more details on how EIM is the transformative technology of the future.

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What’s the Difference Between Van Morrison and a Value Added Network?

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Well put simply one is still doing the same thing they were doing more than forty five years ago and the other has evolved into something very different, but which is which? When I was a child, my parents were constantly playing Van Morrison music in the background whilst I was trying to build intricate engineering models with my Meccano set! In fact the late sixties were quite busy with Van Morrison launching what was to be a very successful solo career, the first EDI messages started to be exchanged and I was born around this time as well. When I joined GXS back in early 2006 I was introduced to the world of hub and spoke communities and Value Added Networks but this was at a time when the company was busy repositioning itself into something very different. After I joined GXS I started to hear terms such as the company being ‘more than just a VAN’ and as soon as I heard the VAN acronym I had flashbacks to when my parents were playing Van Morrison records, may be it was because the name ‘Van’ had been so engrained in my mind from a very early age! Anyway time moves on, GXS has evolved and under new ownership of OpenText™, the world’s largest provider of Enterprise Information Management solutions, Trading Grid™, as our B2B network is called, is going to evolve still further and will strengthen the link between the internal and external enterprise. Moving EDI messages from one mail box to another is still part of our business, however the key growth area is our Managed Services offering and this is perfectly timed with the global interest in moving to cloud based services as a way to develop leaner, more scalable IT infrastructures. OpenText™ Trading Grid™ is essentially a network, something that our company has offered for many years and it helps to connect companies together to allow them to undertake business with each other. Trading Grid™ provides the single entry point into an enterprise and allows you to connect to many different external trading partners. So using this analogy Trading Grid™ is a business or B2B Network, not just any B2B network but one that is processing more than 16billion transactions each year. Once connected to Trading Grid™, companies can potentially connect with over 600,000 other businesses that are also making use of this network today. The former GXS company now sits under a business unit called Information Exchange and this business unit includes services such as Secure Messaging and Rightfax solutions to name but a few. The most staggering number shown below is the amount of commerce being transacted across Trading Grid over a one year period. So in the same way that Van Morrison’s music was initially released on records, you can now download a complete digital set of his music from Apple’s iTunes, in the world of EDI, the Trading Grid™ network has evolved into offering cloud based B2B integration services. This is significant progression in my mind! In my last blog post I discussed how companies can get more out of a B2B Network and during my keynote presentation at EDIFICE I cited several examples of different consumer and business networks. The so called ‘Network Effect’ is transforming how both people and companies communicate with each other. From personal networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, through to consumer networks or eco-systems which offer multiple services from with an environment such as iTunes or Google. Finally there are business networks such as industry specific ones such as Exostar and then B2B networks such as OpenText™ Trading Grid™. People have become use to connecting to a network and then using different services that reside on these particular networks. In the case of Trading Grid™, these additional services could be processing invoices across each of the 28 countries that make up the European Union, connecting to global banks via our SWIFT Bureau service, tracking the lifecycle of business transactions, through to managing the day to day collaboration between potentially thousands of trading partners and then providing direct integration with back office business systems such as SAP and SAGE. Three years ago I saw the above image posted on the internet which highlighted all the interactions between different users on Facebook over a fixed period of time. As you can see, all the Facebook interactions neatly define a map of the world. Given that I look after the industry marketing for the manufacturing vertical at OpenText™, I was curious to see the type of network that could be formed by companies connected to Trading Grid™. For the purposes of the graphic below, I have removed the names of the companies but it quickly became apparent that if an automotive supplier is connected to Trading Grid™ then they would be able to undertake B2B with virtually any of their trading partners located anywhere in the world. I won’t bore you with the details on all the individual B2B solutions used by these companies but once I created the above diagram, using a very small subset of our overall automotive customer base, there were some interesting observations. North American companies were very keen to try move towards using cloud based services (represented by the Managed Service, MS icon), European companies were keen on using their own home grown B2B platforms combined with our messaging platform, Trading Grid Messaging Service (TGMS) and the Japanese companies were moving away from behind the firewall B2B solutions to cloud based services. The Japanese observation was probably as a result of the recent natural disasters that have impacted the country and their desire to spread their production risk around the world. In fact the automotive industry is truly global in nature and when OEMs move into a new country such as Mexico, their key suppliers are expected to move quickly into the country with them. Only a cloud based B2B infrastructure can provide this level of flexibility and scalability. As I highlighted in an earlier blog relating to the Internet of Things (IoT), the B2B network as we know it today is going to evolve still further. For example information from billions of connected devices across the supply chain will provide an end to end view of shipments that we have never experienced before. So just when today’s CIOs have started to embrace Cloud, Mobile, Big Data and Social Networks, along comes the IoT, considered by many as one of the most disruptive technologies of our times. Needless to say OpenText™ will embrace these disruptive technologies as part of our 2020 Digital Agenda and we will help guide CIOs through this period of significant ‘Digital Disruption’. So if you would like to learn why our B2B network is significantly more than just a VAN, then please visit our website for more information on Trading Grid™ and our future 2020 Digital Agenda. So just in case you haven’t worked out by now, after 45 years Van Morrison is still producing music and it is the EDI VAN that has evolved into a cloud based B2B Network. In closing it is interesting that Van Morrison’s latest album is called ‘Born to Sing’, a bit like Trading Grid, ‘Born to do B2B’

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Information Governance in the Energy Sector: Improving OperationalExcellence in Asset Management

This post is part of our blog series that explores how Information Governance is deliver value to utilities, mining and oil and gas companies, in their core business processes. Information Governance is more than just “records management”: It is a means to manage risk, ensure HSE and regulator compliance, and achieve operational excellence and competitive advantage from your information. When it comes to capital-intensive assets such as power plants, oil rigs, or manufacturing facilities, you have much to gain by optimizing performance of operations and maintenance. Many of the industry’s sharpest and most chronic pain points are directly related to issues around the production assets. Doing everything to maximize return on assets and operational efficiency is critical and minimizing production downtime is a top asset management priority. As a consequence, plant maintenance and asset management systems have become increasingly prevalent over the last 15 years, providing operational control of maintenance and repair operations and supporting the end-to-end asset lifecycle, which can easily span decades. HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) and strict compliance requirements are another angle of complexity. Records must be maintained throughout the entire life of each asset and kept current any time you change key processes. Many types of equipment—such as pressure vessels and valves, furnaces, and heavy machinery— come with a risk of injury, fatality, and environmental impact. The public has high expectations for industrial responsibility, while government regulations require increased diligence, testing, and documentation. Keeping accurate corporate records is no longer optional but mandatory. To manage all your asset-related information—such as technical specifications, user manuals, maintenance records, service contracts, drawings, and more, in a traceable and auditable way—you need effective information governance. From the beginning of the asset lifecycle, the design and construction of new projects need to be properly managed and documented. Transitioning from asset construction to operations and maintenance down to final decommissioning along the lifecycle of the asset can also present specific challenges, such as the controlled document handover between EPC companies engineering and constructing the assets to the owners / operators of the asset. But with content spread all over the enterprise, how can you succeed? Accessibility, quality, and traceability of asset information is a huge issue—and organizations need a single source of truth The fact is that most asset management systems such as SAP Plant Maintenance or IBM Maximo focus on structured, transactional information. While this data is important, it’s only one part of the story. Equally important is unstructured information—the kind not stored in a database. Effective maintenance can be heavily impacted by poor access and asset-related documentation. When it comes to the speedy repair of breakdowns and outages, time is money, and speed of access to associated information and effective collaboration between the involved parties is critical. According to ARC Advisory Group, 1.5% of revenue is typically lost due to poor asset information management: However, in many organizations, there is still a substantial disconnect between transactional plant maintenance data and the wide range of supporting documents that need to be held against each individual asset item—bid documents, supplier correspondence, project contracts, process instructions, maintenance manuals, technical drawings, set-up specifications, health and safety sheets, inspection logs, instruction videos, and so on. This involves a considerable range and flow of information that must be managed, accessible, transparent, and accurate at all times. This information may be internal to the main ERP system, within a dedicated enterprise asset management system (EAM), or in any number of other repositories—document management, SharePoint, CAD, project management, quality management system, and so on.  Many companies still completely overlook the benefits of integrating unstructured information and business processes to enable process-centric collaboration and information management. The resulting challenges can be broken down into three main categories:    Enterprise Information Management How can a proper asset information management system be implemented? Enterprise Information Management (EIM) can link all unstructured information such as documents and files —wherever they reside in the organization—back to the asset data in the EAM system, creating a single version of the truth. What can you achieve with an EIM system integrated with your asset management system? Imagine all your content is automatically stored with an appropriate linkage to your asset structure, and key asset attributes are associated with the documents. This enables users to navigate or search to readily find the content associated with a functional location, equipment, supplier, or material in ERP and EAM systems, thus improving the productivity of maintenance workers and technicians. New documents such as job packs can be automatically created based on the asset data (e.g. equipment data, material data, work order data, standard operating procedures, and safety bulletins) and made accessible across multiple departments, on an enterprise level, with proper records management and management of change enforced. The following screenshots shows how OpenText Extended ECM for SAP Solutions provides full information transparency and the business context for an asset. A business workspace provides a 360-degree view for an asset (in this example, an electronic pump), including folders and documents with search and content filtering capabilities (to the left), EAM data, and the business context in the form of related EAM objects such as materials, maintenance notifications, and maintenance orders (to the right).   The Bottom Line  With an EIM system, asset information is no longer distributed over multiple silos or disconnected from the leading EAM system. All stakeholders within the end-to-end asset lifecycle can access asset information from multiple user interfaces such as SAP, Microsoft Windows®, Microsoft Office®, Microsoft SharePoint® email, and web. This improves knowledge management and collaboration by providing organization-wide access to information and helps to take your assets successfully from the capital projects and handover phases, through a long lifecycle of efficient operations and maintenance, and ultimately through decommissioning.   Get tips on building a successful information governance strategy in the webinar on demand: Build a Winning Operational Risk Management Strategy with Information Governance.     Resources OpenText Extended ECM for SAP Solutions: http://www.opentext.com/What-We-Do/Products/OpenText-ECM-Suite-for-SAP®-Solutions/OpenText-Extended-ECM-for-SAP®-Solutions Solution Brief “ECM for Enterprise Asset Management” ( http://socialassets.opentext.com/ecm-for-enterprise-asset-management-asset ) Whitepaper “Information Drives Asset Performance” ( http://socialassets.opentext.com/information-drives-asset-performance-asset ECM for Excellence in Production & Operation (90 seconds video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScDwXbS3t2E

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7 Years Strong: OpenText Receives SAP Pinnacle Award

Information is at the heart of digital transformations today, driving innovations and helping organizations connect with their customers, employees, partners, and others in more meaningful ways. Leading organizations are putting solutions in place to improve the management of their unstructured information and keep up with this information-based economy. For more than two decades, OpenText and SAP® have worked together to help enterprises maximize the potential of their digital information. And yesterday, for the seventh year in a row, SAP awarded OpenText the 2014 SAP Pinnacle award for Solution Extension Partner of the Year in the “Run Together” category. OpenText received the award at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in recognition of the company’s excellence in developing and growing its partnership and driving customer success. “Partners like OpenText are our force multipliers, and today, more than ever, they are essential to our customers’ success,” said Mark Ferrer, chief operating officer, Global Customer Operations and executive vice president, Ecosystem and Channels, SAP, in a recent press release. Our SAP partnership has led to many great innovations—including a few new ones. Last week we announced that the OpenText Archive Server will now run on the SAP HANA Platform. This expanded solution means that more than 4,200 current on-premise SAP Archiving by OpenText customers will have access to the same robust Archive solution on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, enabling our customers to process business-critical content with a faster, smarter and simpler real-time platform for their business. We also announced a special offer for SAP customers to get Tempo Box for free! SAP Extended ECM 10.5 and SAP Document Access customers can get Tempo Box for free here. OpenText’s solutions for SAP help customers maximize the potential of their information, ensuring business users are able to easily access, manage, and leverage their content in a secure environment. Organizations are able to drive business transformation by digitizing processes that leverage SAP technology innovations, including the SAP HANA platform as well as cloud and mobile offerings. We’re thrilled to be recognized again with this award from SAP, and we can’t wait to continue the conversation at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, Florida. OpenText subject matter experts, customers, and partners have had a chance to speak at some great events, and we’ll continue with even more sessions today and tomorrow (see our full session info here). If you’re attending the event, don’t miss our CEO Mark Barrenechea’s keynote address tomorrow, June 5, at 9 a.m.

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Information Governance in the Energy Sector: Treating Information as a Valuable Resource

This is the first in a series of blogs that explore how Information Governance is delivering value to utilities, mining and oil and gas companies, in their core business processes. Information Governance is more than just “records management”: It is a means to manage risk, ensure HSE and regulatory compliance, and achieve operational excellence and competitive advantage from your information. Even in heavily regulated industries such as energy and resources, the term “records management” (RM) has a somewhat negative connotation. Over the span of my career in engineering firms, energy companies, and public sector bodies responsible for governing the industry, I’ve come to accept that executives are reticent to invest in RM initiatives. In my experience, it typically takes some compelling event to drive major information and records management initiatives within these businesses—a scathing audit demonstrating non-compliance; a health, safety, or environmental incident that could have been avoided; or a costly claim or lawsuit. In these instances, poor information management (IM) or the reactive costs of eDiscovery are too high a price for the business to pay. Today, it is hard to imagine that there is any executive—or employee, for that matter—who doesn’t recognize the value of information in their day-to-day operations. Especially when you consider that companies such as Google and Facebook are making such lucrative business out of information alone, it’s clear that information is a valuable resource. Yet many utilities and resources companies continue to suffer from poor information management, often failing to invest in the tools that support even their most basic information management needs, let alone leveraging that information for innovation and competitive advantage. Information has value, and when properly managed, information can reduce risk as well as positively impact your overall revenue, efficiency, and profitability. When effective information management is embedded in the processes and activities that your organization performs in the course of normal operations, you’re able to achieve increased compliance and realize the strategic value of that information. This is where Information Governance comes in. I am pleased that the IM industry has adopted this term to reflect the new era of information management. It more accurately reflects the paradigm shift we’ve been experiencing over the past 20 to 30 years, as electronic information in its many forms has replaced antiquated practices and tools rooted in paper-based processes. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be running a series of blogs that demonstrate how Information Governance supports business processes and challenges that are specific to energy and resources companies. You will hear from my colleagues, with their individual areas of expertise, about content-centric applications such as Engineering Document Management, Contract Management, Asset Information Management, Customer Communication and Customer Information Management. We will also cover two additional topics reflecting the challenges of the complex information technology (IT) landscape in modern energy companies: governing your SAP and SharePoint information, and managing legacy systems and information silos from mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures. I hope that you will join us for the entire blog series, as we demonstrate how Information Governance manages your risk, ensures your compliance, and delivers value to your business. For more information on the topic of Information Governance in the energy and resources sector, I encourage you to read the whitepaper we co-authored with PennEnergy, How to Mitigate Risk and Ensure Compliance: Govern Your Documents Accordingly, and visit our microsite.

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Regulatory Matters: What you should know about new FDA Supply Chain Security regulations

Last week, the European Medicines Agency sent warning letters to healthcare professionals across Europe about falsified and/or tampered vials of Herceptin, Roche’s potent drug for breast cancer. It appears that the vials were stolen in Italy, had their lot numbers modified, and reintroduced into the supply chain. This is a growing problem, not only in the EU, but in the US as well. In response to the growing threat of counterfeit, adulterated, stolen and diverted medications entering the pharmaceutical supply chain, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has implemented several important regulations highlighted within the Drug Supply Chain Security Act and the FDA Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA). As with any global enterprise, the risks of maintaining supply chain integrity from manufacturing to distribution across international borders are massive. These risks are multiplied when we’re talking about a nearly trillion dollar industry and where a breakdown can mean injury or death. The FDA estimates that 40% of finished drugs and 80% of active ingredient precursors are imported and has defined a rigorous process of inspections with the stated goal of preventing any type of illegal activity within the supply chain. Title VII of the FDASIA, signed into law in 2012, grants the FDA new authority to address these new challenges and better ensure the safety, effectiveness and quality of drugs imported into the United States. As stated on the FDA’s website, “ Implementation of these authorities will significantly advance its globalization and harmonization strategies and support FDA’s ongoing quality-related initiatives. Further, these authorities will allow FDA to collect and analyze data to make risk-informed decisions, advance its risk-based approach to facility oversight, strengthen its partnerships with foreign regulators, and drive safety and quality throughout the supply chain through strengthened tools. At the same time, implementation of Title VII of FDASIA is difficult and complex, and requires not only the development of new regulations, guidances and reports, but also major changes in FDA information systems, processes and policies.” Pharmaceutical companies and API manufacturers will need to become familiar with these regulations and determine how to leverage existing or implement new technologies to interface with the FDA. These include registration and listing of all drug/excipient manufacturers and importers. One critical aspect of Title VII is outlined in Section 706 which speaks to the types of records required by the FDA and timelines to produce the records prior to an inspection or audit. Having a robust document and records management and recovery strategy has always been important, but under these new guidelines, getting the right information quickly to the FDA is essential to prevent delays in manufacturing or distribution. With over 300 life science implementations, OpenText has long provided validated ECM solutions for pharmaceutical records and process management, and through its tight integration with SAP, ensure compliance with current and emerging FDA and EMA regulations. In the next Regulatory Matters, I’ll go into more detail about the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, which outlines critical steps to build an electronic, interoperable system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States, also known as “Track and Trace.” In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you have any questions on how an Enterprise Information Management strategy can increase efficiency and innovation at your organization, while maintaining regulatory compliance. I will also be at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, May 20-22 in Phoenix, so if you’re in the area stop by the OpenText booth and say hello!

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Compliance and Love Information Management

Even in heavily regulated industries such as energy and resources, the term “records management”(RM) has a somewhat negative connotation. Over the span of my career in engineering firms, energy companies and public sector bodies responsible for governing the industry, I’ve come to accept that executives are reticent to invest in RM initiatives. In my experience, is has typically been some compelling event that has driven major information and records management initiatives within these businesses – a scathing audit demonstrating non-compliance; a health, safety or environmental incident that could have been avoided; or a costly claim or lawsuit – where poor information management (IM) or the reactive costs of eDiscovery were too high a price for the business to pay. Today, it is hard to imagine that there is any executive, or employee for that matter, that doesn’t recognize the value of information to their day-to-day operations. Especially when you consider that companiessuch as Google and Facebook are making such lucrative business out ofinformation alone. Yet, many utilities and resources companies continueto suffer from poor information management – often failing to invest inthe tools that support even their most basic information managementneeds – let alone leveraging that information for innovation andcompetitive advantage. Information has value, and when properly managed, information can reduce risk as well as positively impact your overall revenue, efficiency and profitability. When effective information management is embedded in the processes and activities that you perform in the courseof your normal operations you achieve increased compliance – and yourealize the strategic value of that information. This is where “Information Governance” comes in. I am pleased that the IM industry has adopted this term to reflect the new era of information management. It more accurately reflects the paradigm shift we’ve been experiencing over the past 20-30 years, as electronic information in its many forms, has replaced antiquated practices and tools rooted in paper-based processes.   An effective Information Governance strategy not only addresses the myriad of information types in your business – paper, electronic documents,rich media, structured data and master data, or sensor and operational analysis data – but it manages the information in the corebusiness processes and applications across the enterprise. The rightInformation Governance platform is foundation that unifies the information silos and processes – and delivers value to the core operations of the business. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be running a series ofblogs that demonstrate how Information Governance supports businessprocesses and challenges that are specific to energy and resourcescompanies. You will hear from my colleagues, in their individual areasof expertise, about content-centric applications such as: EngineeringDocument Management; Contract Management; Asset Information Management;Customer Communication and Customer Information Management. We will alsocover two additional topics reflecting the challenges of the complexinformation technology landscape (IT) in modern energy companies:governing your SAP and SharePoint information; and managing legacysystems and information silos from mergers, acquisitions andjoint-ventures. I hope that you will join us for the entire blog series, as we demonstrate how Information Governance manages your risk, ensures your compliance and delivers value to your business. For more information on Information Governance in the energy and resources sector, I encourage you to read the new whitepaper I co-authored with PennEnergy and check out all the information at Information Governance for Energy & Resources. This post orignially appeared on ECM.guru

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Innovating with Valued Partners: Microsoft and SAP

At the recent Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, OpenText and our key global partners Microsoft and SAP unveiled a new integration solution: OpenText Microsoft SharePoint Services (SPS) for Extended ECM for SAP Solutions. This solution is uniquely endorsed by Microsoft and SAP to help deliver interoperability, collaboration and productivity for governance and compliance assurance. “The Power of 3” great companies working together has delivered this impactful solution that enables SharePoint and SAP systems to interact and provide a single source of truth for business-critical content. The new solution leverages customers’ existing investments in SharePoint and SAP to fully utilize OpenText’s industry-leading ECM capability. It allows users of Microsoft SharePoint to work with content managed by OpenText Extended ECM for SAP solutions, facilitating an integrated approach to enterprise ECM. Now our customers can: collaborate on unstructured content in context of SAP business objects improve control over rapidly-growing SharePoint content and sites reduce their operational costs while staying compliant with applicable regulations bring SAP business content and processes into the familiar Microsoft interface. The teamwork involved in developing and bringing this solution to market speaks to the strength of OpenText’s partnerships and the importance of partner programs globally. We’re unveiling this offering in nine languages, so it’s a solution with worldwide relevance for SharePoint and SAP users everywhere. This is another example of OpenText’s commitment to unlocking the power of information across the enterprise. AIIM, the Association for Information and Image Management, recently reported that governance and business scope extension are among the biggest challenges SharePoint users face for enterprise customers. With OpenText’s SPS offering, we are removing pain points for our customers and enabling them to work more effectively and seamlessly, while helping them with their governance and compliance requirements. It doesn’t get any better than this, and I congratulate all the teams involved across OpenText, Microsoft and SAP for bringing this progressive innovation to market.

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How the Internet of Things will Provide ‘Fuel’ for Future Digital Supply Chains

In an earlier blog post I described how future business environments will be more tightly integrated with information flowing from EIM, B2B and IoT based platforms. I outlined how information can be broadly split into structured and unstructured information flows and for this blog entry I just wanted to expand on some of those initial thoughts. EIM, B2B and IoT will collectively provide ‘fuel’ or information for tomorrow’s digital supply chains. Over the past few weeks OpenText has been running a series of events as part of a global Innovation Tour, visiting major cities around the world, to share our vision for the future of Enterprise Information Management. We are using this tour as a platform to introduce our 2020 agenda and managing internal and external enterprise information flows across future digital supply chains will be a core part of this agenda. In parallel with these events, OpenText |GXS hosted our Customer Forum in Washington last week and I was given the opportunity to present my vision of where the manufacturing industry was heading in the future. Tomorrow’s manufacturing industry is going to need to embrace many new and ‘disruptive’ technologies and processes that are just starting to enter the market today. From wearable devices such as Google Glass, 3D Printers, Drone Based Logistics Networks and of course the Internet of Things. Future supply chains will need to embrace these technologies and EIM and B2B platforms will need to process data coming from these devices as part of the overall information flows across a digital supply chain. During my ‘Manufacturing 2020’ presentation I discussed each of these technologies in more detail and provided some real world examples of their applications. It has only been a few weeks since I posted my last blog introducing EIM, B2B and IoT and even during this short period of time the IoT world has moved on and technology has progressed. For example only this week Cisco announced a $1Billion investment to expand their cloud infrastructure which will be used to support the connection of billions of IoT related devices. Cisco’s cloud is being designed from the ground up to support IoT, capable of scaling to billions of connections and trillions of events all supporting real time analytics to help customers get the insights they need from the connections of people, processes, data and things as they happen in real time. At an SAP conference in New York yesterday Cisco and SAP painted their vision for the Internet of Things, especially in relation to manufacturing environments of the future. Cisco estimates that improvements to plant automation processes and improved production output from IoT is a potential $2Trillion opportunity over the next ten years. The chart above, courtesy of Cisco, highlights the potential opportunity of IoT in manufacturing. Building a dedicated IoT platform, processing the data coming off of this infrastructure in an in memory database such as SAP HANA is only part of the story. Providing connectivity to a B2B network which can then take actionable decisions and initiate supply chain processes is the next logical step in the evolution of a company’s IoT related digital supply chain strategy. Dedicated APIs will need to be developed to connect Cisco’s proposed network to a B2B network such as OpenText |GXS’s Trading Grid, the world’s largest cloud based integration platform which processes 16billion transactions per year. The API is a critical cornerstone of developing a completely closed loop IoT connected digital supply chain infrastructure. So what exactly will these closed loop, IoT focused business processes look like and how will they help to enable digital supply chains of the future. In the immediate future there are three key areas where IoT can fuel the digital supply chain, namely offering pervasive visibility, proactive replenishment and predictive maintenance. Let me now expand on these with a few real world examples that I have learnt about in recent weeks. Pervasive Visibility – Bosch is currently developing a software based virtual supply chain. The environment will take the output from various RFID and other sensors located across both their factories and their 3PL providers and this will provide a complete end to end view of shipments as they move from point of manufacture to point of delivery. RFID technology has been around for many years but I wonder if the IoT will provide the platform for RFID technology to prosper? Part of the problem that has restricted the growth in RFID adoption has been the lack of a truly global RFID reader infrastructure. The IoT, with billions of connected devices could potentially change this. Proactive Replenishment – Last October at Cisco’s Internet of Things World Forum in Barcelona, SAP demonstrated a HANA powered vending machine. Not only could the vending machine recognise a customer using the machine and make suggestions for their next purchase, but it could also potentially highlight out of stock situations with the machine which would lead to new stock needing to be ordered. Information on every sale from the vending machine would be stored in an instance of SAP HANA allowing a supplier to monitor consumer buying patterns and trends across a network of internet connected vending machines. This is a very simple example but in the context of a manufacturer this could be applied to aftermarket parts replenishment or monitoring stocks in a warehouse that are used as part of a production process. Predictive Maintenance – I think this area is very interesting as it could potentially tie in with the other trend of the moment, namely 3D printing. Take the following scenario, an aircraft is about to experience a problem with a bracket failure in one of its wing flap mechanisms. The bracket is going to fail due to a hairline crack developing in one arm of the bracket. The original bracket is shown to the left. What if a strain gauge fitted to the bracket actually detected the crack developing, this information would be transmitted to the destination airport that the aircraft is flying to and a new 3D printed part is manufactured in the maintenance hangar and once heat treated could be fitted to the aircraft when it lands. This is a great example of what I would term a ‘zero length supply chain’. A part has been manufactured there and then with no logistics infrastructure required at all to deliver the part. This would save airlines a significant amount of money, especially in relation to downtime required to normally wait for a part to be shipped to a maintenance hangar which could be located anywhere in the world. Now imagine a similar process happening to repair a car, a military vehicle or any serviceable ‘asset’ that needs to be maintained to a high level in order to maximise the up time of the asset concerned. I have provided three examples above to illustrate where IoT could potentially fuel a digital supply chain. The RFID example could be integrated with an B2B Advanced Ship Notice (ASN) process to notify customers of an inbound delivery. Rather than customers being told that their shipment may be delivered within a 30 minute window, the network of interconnected RFID sensors and readers will paint a real time view of the shipment as it makes its journey from the factory to the point of delivery. As the parts are delivered, inventory levels can be automatically adjusted and the associated invoicing process could be set in motion. The vending machine example would see an automated order being placed with a supplier when the stocks in the machine get too low and the delivery of goods to the machine could be monitored as well. As for the maintenance example, there will inevitably be parts that cannot be 3D printed and therefore either an automated process could be put in place to order new parts or a web portal front end to an online catalogue of replacement parts could be setup. In fact if parts have to be replaced after so many flying hours then maintenance crews could have access to an online catalogue of 3D printable parts, they would simply select and then download the replacement part that they need, as a 3D CAD model, and then print locally on a 3D printer in the maintenance hangar. These three processes nicely demonstrate how B2B plays a key part of the whole closed loop process relating to future digital supply chains and in fact these processes are in some cases reliant on each other to operate efficiently. Both replenishment and maintenance scenarios will require visibility, especially when ordering non-3D printable parts such as air filters for example. In some cases maintenance crews will need to make sure they have a ready supply of spare parts so that an aircraft can be repaired as soon as it lands. Being able to automatically replenish spare part related inventories will be key to ensuring that maintenance processes can be undertaken smoothly. Once again I have only scratched the surface in relation to how IoT will impact digital supply chains of the future and I will look at other areas in future blog posts.

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Do You Need a Genius Bar for B2B Integration?

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Many of the leading cloud computing providers deliberately avoid talking with their customers. When inquiries come in, they push them back to online resources. Haven’t you read our API specification (it is 200 pages long)? Have you posted the question to our online community (maybe someone will know the answer)? Have you visited our app store (you might get lucky)? Strange as it might seem, not talking to your customers is viewed as the best way to grow your business profitably. But is this the best approach for cloud-based B2B integration platforms? The answer is both “Yes” and “No.” In recent years a number of Integration Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) vendors have emerged in the market. These iPaaS vendors follow a similar strategy to cloud providers such as Google, Facebook and Amazon Web Services. iPaaS providers develop user interfaces that are highly intuitive and can be learned within minutes. Extensive wikis and robust API suites are published with a goal of making users self-sufficient. Some iPaaS vendors even offer libraries of maps, forms and connectors to popular applications, which can be self-provisioned in a matter of minutes. Apple’s Genius Bar What you will not find most iPaaS vendors offering is high-touch customer service models or service delivery teams that can be scaled up and down to support projects. And that is just fine to most of the types of companies who prefer to use an iPaaS. The user demographic that iPaaS appeals to are self-starters. They have 10, 20 or 30 years of EDI/XML experience under their belt. These Do-It-Yourselfers don’t want a high-touch model. But what if you don’t have 10, 20 or 30 years of experience with B2B integration? What if you don’t know how to get data in and out of SAP using XI APIs? What if you don’t know how to publish item attributes to Walmart using the 1WorldSync data pool? What if you don’t know how to use the RosettaNet PIP for a design win? What if you don’t know how to aggregate end-of-day account statements from your international banks using SWIFT? What if you have never used the EBICS protocol to issue payments in France? What if you have never connected to manufacturers in Japan using Zengin or HULTF? What if you are not familiar with the electronic customs regulations for importing goods to India? What if you are not familiar with the policies for issuing electronic invoices in Mexico? If any or all of these scenarios apply to you then a self-service iPaaS model is not the way to go. Not all cloud-based integration providers take the iPaaS approach to the customer experience. Some provide a model more like Apple’s Genius Bar. When you encounter a hardware or software problem with your Mac, tablet or phone you can talk to a real person at the Genius Bar about how to solve it. Many companies don’t have the expertise in-house to master the hundreds of different networking protocols, messaging standards and ecommerce regulations that exist around the globe. For these organizations, having a real person (not a wiki or API spec) they can contact is essential to meeting the integration requirements of their customers. When you need to “Map an SAP IDOC to a VDA 4938 for an automotive OEM in Turkey” you have a team of experts that will hold your hand through the process. You need a Genius Bar for B2B integration!

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ECM: The Best of 2013

Wow, what a year 2013 was for ECM at OpenText! As we make our way through the second month of 2014, I’ve been reflecting on some of the highlights over the last year. From strong analyst ratings from Gartner and Forrester to great customer events, product releases, and shared information, 2013 was a big year for ECM. Check out some of the best parts: In Mark Barrenechea’s CEO blog, he has focused on ECM in several posts and in the popular CEO white paper series. Here are some great ECM papers for reference: Enterprise Content Management: Governing the Power of Information Information Governance is Good Business Information Flows and the Journey: Optimizing Value Chains with EIM Mobile Computing and the Cloud: The Impact of Disruptive Innovation on Enterprise Information Mangement Information Security: Protecting the Power of Information In March of last year, Resonate KT became part of the OpenText family, bringing the very popular WebReports and ActiveView ECM add-ons as well as the talented team that created them into the product group at OpenText. This investment in ECM brought not only advances in reporting but also in extensibility and usability to the ECM platform and add-ons. The INFORMation Governance Blog holds many interesting posts. Don’t be surprised if it looks a little different than you remember throughout last year: We’ve moved it to a new platform based on OpenText Tempo Social software. Here are some of my favourite posts from the year: In Five Common ECM Wins….and the Straightforward Cloud Solution, Alison Clarke describes the benefits one organization achieved by implementing ECM in the Cloud. Thinking about Records Management? Read Liz Kofsky’s RM: Information Governance Superhero-in-Waiting . Data Sovereignty and Privacy is a topic growing in importance for so many international organizations. There were a few posts covering these areas that may be of interest, including Whose Data is it Anyway? and Ignoring Privacy Compliance can Trigger a Public Problem. In Will PRISM and the NSA Affect the Move to the Cloud?, Greg Clark discusses security, privacy and archiving in the cloud. Enterprise World 2013 : My favourite work week of the year. It was a wildly busy week full of customer, partner, analyst and industry leader meetings, presentations, discussions and, yes, fun! This was a week best described as “drinking from the fire hose,” where there is so much to learn and see, so many people to meet, and so much that is new and exciting that is isn’t possible to take it all in. In one of my sessions near the end of the week, a customer told me he was exhausted from learning so much. He was looking forward to getting back and digesting it all and then digging further into key areas. He put it well. Now that the main event is done and we’ve digested, here are some summaries of key areas you can explore for more information: New Product Launches and Announcements: Content Suite 10.5: There is so much in this release to be excited about — for existing customers, partners and new prospective customers. Whether you are focused on compliance, development or administration, there is something in this release for you. Read more in the Content Suite 10.5 overview blog, and there are several pieces of reference material, webinars, and more to help you dig into the details. OpenText Archive: If you’re one of our many customers who have used our archive technology over the last 20 years, you know the compliance, cost savings and ease-of-use of these products. This year OpenText Archive has gotten even better with extended features and more new offerings such as OpenText Cloud Archive and Archive for Google Apps. Learn more about OpenText Archive and what it can do for you. xECM for Oracle E-Business Suite: More and more organizations are recognizing the benefits of bringing structured and unstructured content together in an overall Enterprise Information Management system. We have a significant portfolio of products that bring SAP together with EIM. Last year we announced a new offering, xECM for Oracle E-Business Suite, which brings the popular Oracle ERP system together with ECM. OpenText Tempo: Combining the benefits of social business tools with secure file sync and share, OpenText Tempo launched in 2013 to help organizations drive collaboration and innovation. Leading organizations are realizing the value of connecting people with each other and with their data in a secure, compliant environment. Learn more about this latest family of solutions. AppWorks: Developers are now able to write code using OpenText suites quickly and easily, with standard languages such as Java, JavaScript, and HTML5. AppWorks, our new developer platform, launched last year to help speed the path from need to solution for IT organizations. Learn more about how you can use AppWorks to build well-designed, purpose-specific apps for your enterprise. Yes, 2013 was a great year for ECM at OpenText! I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2014 has in store.

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Top 3: What I’ve Learned Coming Back to OpenText

I’ve been back at OpenText for roughly nine months and I wanted to touch on some of the interesting observations and things I’ve learned since I’ve been back. 1. BIG customers doing some BIG things A couple projects really stood out to me as I started to dig into the archiving customer base. The first is a very large German telecommunications company – 200,000+ mailboxes, 150TB of legacy data, 88TB year-over-year data volume growth. There’s big and then there is BIG. To tackle this challenge, the customer deployed OpenText Email Management for Exchange, saving massive amounts of storage, reducing contention in Exchange, and saving nearly €1M in the first year (with an estimated ROI of over €5M on the project overall). From a marketing perspective, it’s a great story – but from deriving value from using OpenText, it’s even greater. The second customer that caught my attention was a .gov that decided to move corporate email off Exchange and Lotus Domino to Google. Not only did the customer need to migrate the data out of these legacy mail systems (nearly 120TB), they needed to scale out to capture 4M messages per day from 100,000 Google mailboxes – not to mention consolidate hundreds of records retention schedules down to a few and auto-categorize the entire data set. No small tasks for sure, but it highlights some of the very real challenges enterprises are facing today – a mound of legacy data (and what to do with it);, overzealous, granular records retention; and net new data being added to the pile every day. Fortunately, we could help. OpenText Archive for Google Apps integration with OpenText Content Suite Platform and OpenText Auto-Classification provided a unified information governance solution that enabled records retention to be refined, effectively managed legacy data, and scaled to meet new data volume growth. 2. OpenText doesn’t just talk about archiving from multiple channels – we do it The holy grail of most archiving products is fundamentally capturing all enterprise information, centrally managing where and how long to keep it – and, oh yeah, making it readily accessible to users so they can do their job. This extends beyond simple email and file archiving – that is gen 1 archiving. We’re talking structured data, ERP data, web content, social, SharePoint, machine to machine communications – active data, or static legacy data. Crack open the marketing material from most vendors and they say they can do it. But beyond a few edge cases, most still focus primarily on the bread and butter of email and files. What I’ve learned since coming back to OpenText is that we actually do it, and pretty well to boot. Not only can OpenText Archive capture and offload data from expense disk, but it can surface the content to business users in a unified manner. Some good examples of this are integrated solutions like OpenText Extended ECM for SAP and OpenText Application Governance and Archiving for SharePoint, where we archive and manage the lifecycle of the content, but not at the expense of the business user. OpenText displays the appropriate content (structured and unstructured) regardless of its origin, all within the lead application UI. The archive is transparent to the end-user as they collaborate with team members and continue working on their day-to-day tasks. Interesting, EMC was recently “shining their own crown” by just releasing the ability to archive structured and unstructured content to a single location…pondering now….is the single location SourceOne archive or the InfoArchive? (Psst…that’s two places to put archived data.) 3. Got OT Archive? If you’re an OpenText customer you probably do and perhaps don’t even know it. This by far is the biggest hidden secret I’ve found. OpenText Archive is the backbone and is integrated with 30+ OpenText products touching all of our business pillars! I’m looking forward to sharing more stories along my journey. Look for us on the OpenText Innovation Tour coming to a city near you.

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Introducing xECM for Oracle E-Business Suite

What an exciting week at Enterprise World as we announce so many new innovations! One of the great new ECM focused product offerings being announced is OpenText Extended ECM for Oracle® E-Business Suite. This new product brings together OpenText industry leading ECM with Oracle’s best-selling ERP system, E-Business Suite to drive productivity and governance within critical ERP-driven business processes. What does it do? Within Oracle E-business Suite, users work on business activities – processes driven by their ERP system. Some of the information they need lives outside the ERP environment – things like documents, spreadsheets, and mail are all information the ERP users need to complete their work. Extended ECM for Oracle® E-Business Suite (xECM for Oracle) creates a connection between the ERP system and the ECM system within the organization so that relevant content in the OpenText Content Suite can be viewed and worked on within the familiar E-Business Suite interfaces in the context of the process. This makes work easier, faster and more accurate for the E-Business users. Some of the people that work with ERP business processes are only occasional Oracle users. These people spend most of their day in their Office applications, email or within other common ECM environments. xECM for Oracle makes it easy for them to work on ERP driven processes by bringing all of the objects, relationships, and content together within their familiar Content Suite interfaces such as MS office, Outlook, SharePoint, web, and mobile. Everything they need is at their fingertips without needing to learn a new system. Content both inside and outside the ERP system needs to be governed consistently, ensuring compliance to regulations, protecting the content, keeping it as required for compliance, ensuring it can be discovered during investigation, and deleting it when allowed or mandated to do so. Because xECM for Oracle is built on the foundation of OpenText Content Suite , this information governance and security is built in. Content such as HR documents, purchase agreements, and contracts are managed through their lifecycle with the same consistency and rigor as the associated email, documents, and CAD diagrams. Organizations can ensure their regulations and policies are adhered to regardless of the source of the information. Extended ECM for Oracle® E-Business Suite from OpenText How is it built? OpenText are experts at integration between ERP and ECM. Many organizations benefit from the depth and breadth of offerings we have that extend the ECM platform to provide integration and specific solutions with SAP systems. This experience has been used to create a similar foundational integration between Oracle E-Business Suite and OpenText Content Suite . Integration is built as core extensions to the Content Suite Platform, tied directly into the foundation of Content Server so that administration and configuration of the ECM system automatically applies to the E-Business Suite components. Within the Oracle system, standard E-Business APIs are used so that ECM components are natural extensions to the infrastructure and common UI’s. The beautiful thing about the way this application is designed is that it works for all Oracle E-Business Suite processes within the Oracle HTML and forms based interfaces, and within standard ECM interfaces such as MS Office, SharePoint, web, and mobile. Let’s take the example of a project so we can walk through how the integration works. When the project is created in E-Business Suite, xECM for Oracle creates a workspace for the business objects within the project. The workspace shows the folders, structure, and relationships between objects. It reflects the users that have access, the metadata associated with the project and the content. This business workspace is made available to users within both the ERP and ECM systems. Transactional content is added within the Oracle system, unstructured content is added within the ECM system. All content is visible to users in their environment so they can work where they are comfortable. When users are given access to objects within the process, they are automatically given access to the workspace. Metadata and classifications associated with the project are automatically applied to all the related content. Information governance is provided on all of the content from both systems ensuring compliance and risk reduction for the organization without adding extra work for users. Costs are kept down due to archiving of content into the OpenText archive where content is compressed, de-duplicated and stored on appropriate media on premise, in the cloud or both. What are the key benefits? · Productivity gains through users getting consolidated access to ALL information surrounding the transaction · Increased user adoption as users work where they are comfortable · Increased accuracy because there is no lookup and manual copying of information from one system to another · Cost and risk reduction through information governance and archival · Compliance with regulation and corporate policy What is next? Extended ECM for Oracle® E-business Suite officially releases in March 2014. Expect to see future releases of this product with added functionality, solution blueprints, and perhaps packaged applications for critical processes such as project management. In future there may be similar integrations to other Oracle ERP systems. Learn more! There is more to see and learn about this exciting new offering from OpenText. Visit www.opentext.com/oracle for further information. To learn more about the release of Content Suite, visit www.opentext.com/content . Follow and join in our Twitter traffic this week with hashtags #OTEW2013 and #OracleECM.

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The Rise of the Machine Connected Supply Chain

Two weeks ago I was fortunate to get an invite from Cisco to attend their ‘Internet of Things’ World Forum in Barcelona. As I have discussed before, the Internet of Things is going to herald the introduction of the fourth industrial revolution and Cisco, SAP, Oracle, GE and many other tech and industrial companies want to be part of this new and exciting sector. Some of the subjects being discussed at the forum, especially in healthcare, would not have looked out of place in the 2003 Terminator 3 film, ‘The Rise of the Machines’, hence the title for this particular blog entry! I personally found the event to be one of the best conferences that I have attended in recent years and there were a lot of conceptual ideas discussed which gave plenty of food for thought. One such idea, which for some reason I have not been able to forget since the conference, is the thought that any type of machine could potentially have its own avatar or Facebook style profile page. To put another way, in your personal life you may have an online profile such as Facebook or LinkedIn to keep in touch with both friends and work colleagues. What about if every machine connected to the internet had its own avatar or online profile as well? I thought this was quite an interesting concept, but what would it look like and how would it work? I like challenges such as this so I had to try and come up with a concept, using Facebook as a basic template as you will see below. The other reason that I am interested in this is from a B2B and supply chain point of view. Here at OpenText we offer a collaboration or rather community management platform called Active Community which allows companies to maintain a centralised database of contacts for all trading partners across a supply chain. If machines were somehow able to interact directly with the supply chain, either up or downstream then it could potentially help introduce a new set of operational benefits and efficiencies. The Internet of Things offers the potential to connect the physical and digital supply chains in a way that has not been possible before. But what if individual machines could somehow interact with users or vice versa, could a Facebook type of ‘asset management’ environment provide a neat way of managing the machine to machine communications across a supply chain? Even though the concept of the machine based avatar was discussed at the Forum, there was relatively little information offered as to how this could work. I am sure there are some conceptual ideas out there already, but I thought I would offer my own vision of how this could work. One of the discussion panels at the forum included a speaker from Caterpillar who said that every machine that leaves their factory includes a WiFi module so that it can be connected to the internet and information can be analysed and exchanged remotely when it is out in the field. We are just entering the fourth industrial revolution and the focus so far has been on the subject of just getting machines connected to the internet. I have really only scraped the surface of this particular subject area and every aspect of the operation of today’s supply chains is likely to be impacted in some way by the Internet of Things, from logistics networks, warehouse and distribution centres through to improved monitoring of inventory levels in factories and retail stores. I think we are heading for exciting times!

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Invisible, Ubiquitous, ‘Intelligent’: Enterprise Content Management in 2018

Guest Blog By: John Fisk, SAP In planning for an Enterprise World session about the future of ECM with Michael Cybala from OpenText, I spent some time thinking about what the market expectations will be in 2018, and how new technology might enable those possibilities. As prognostication is always more fun than working, I thought I would share a few of the ideas that emerged from the exercise. Some are mundane, and some are far-out, but I’d be very interested in feedback on any level– so please comment freely! (Note – these thought are only a personal perspective, and do not reflect any future product commitments by either SAP or OpenText) Invisible ECM Over the past seven years, SAP and OpenText have developed a product portfolio built on a simple value proposition: integrate content and ECM capabilities directly into SAP processes and applications, combining ‘seamless’ UIs, integrated data hierarchies, unified access controls and many other features into a unified solution. This integration has resonated with every industry in every region, and we believe our joint solutions are the best in the world, but there is still a long way to go. Over the next five years, customers should expect that the ECM platforms of today become ever more deeply integrated with all major applications. And key point is that this integration should become deeper, more pervasive, and ever more invisible to end users. Most of the time, they should be blissfully unaware that they are creating, sharing, or accessing content managed by a central ECM system. In a perfect world, the right content is always available when they need it, in familiar applications and systems of engagement. By 2018, I expect an ever deeper set of native integrations, repository abstraction layers, APIs and web services will enable applications to instantly and invisibly find the content and functionality needed in almost any situation. Ubiquitous ECM A related theme is the ubiquity of ECM. ECM capabilities will be made available across an ever-expanding set of devices, interfaces and UIs. In 2013 terms, that means end users can access this functionality view web, email, paper, text, mobile, tablet, desktop or application-specific views. By 2018, one might imagine that this includes a slew of voice-driven interfaces, a wide range of social media tools, digital agents or even robotic assistants. Who knows, maybe by then home deliveries of milk will be made by robotic ‘deliverymen’ and accepted by an authorized home security system, which, after reviewing the entire digital record of the cows health and production information and delivery records, will accept the food with a digital signature. Or surgically embedded retinal projectors will present media to end users directly on the inside of their eyeball…. Oh yes… I am getting ahead of myself… But let me opine that for almost any sci-fi scenario you can imagine concerning information access and presentation one can imagine, ECM and other technologies, will be critical enablers. ‘Intelligent’ ECM And that brings us to ‘intelligence’. Note the apostrophes please – we are clearly still a long way off from what anyone might call true intelligence – but here we just mean ability to improve process efficiency by the use of more advanced technology. Today, many leading ECM solutions offer little more than a crude method to attach static content to a process. Almost all other steps to support content-rich processes (think accounting, procurement, contracts, HR, etc) require a lot of mundane human effort. SAP and OpenText have advanced the ECM market by integrating ECM UIs, data structures, access controls, etc with SAP processes, embedding OCR/ICR capabilities, and combining workflows in order to ‘intelligently’ present content in the context of business process information. But again there is far more we can do and by 2018, I believe we will be starting to deliver genuinely ‘intelligent’ content management to eliminate almost all mundane work from processes. I know what you are thinking – we have been hearing this promise for years, and most of the individual technology pieces have been available for years – but only now can we combine these more advanced capabilities with a system that offers an underlying integration between structured and unstructured information. In short, combining tools such as semantic analysis, rules-based decision engines, ICR, fuzzy search, and – most importantly – integration with related structured content (i.e. Big Data) may finally yield a practical system that can ‘understand’ the meaning and context of content, and ‘intelligently’ make basic decisions about it. It would be a revolution long in coming. Evolving Underlying Technology All of these changes depend on the continued evolution of Enterprise Information technology. At the deepest levels of the stack, SAP has embarked on a journey to reinvent the underlying infrastructure for enterprise information with the invention of our HANA in-memory database. Keeping all enterprise information in a single, real-time data base has many benefits such as IT simplification, speed, and ability to keep ‘one version of the truth’ for both production and analytic data. These are all relevant to our vision of 2018, but one of the most intriguing possibilities that HANA enables is the possibility to fully automate transaction-analysis feedback loops. In the past, analysis was conducted on different systems and a different cycle from process transactions. But by integrating process information, unstructured content, and the ability to run analysis on all of that information, we have an environment where information can be captured, analyzed, integrated with process workflows, transactions executed further analysis conducted, and then content generated and output in a matter of seconds. So What? Technology is great, but why does any of this matter? Well, consider one obvious example – the laborious process of applying for a home loan today, with reams of documentation going back and forth between the lender and the borrower in elaborate and tedious due diligence process. In advanced banks, almost all relevant data about an individual credit and employment history is already available digitally in various backend systems, and all the forms can be created dynamically. There is no reason that by 2018, this process cannot be completed within seconds, far more accurately and efficiently than today. Or a little further out, imagine how digital personal assistants might evolve, and if they were able to automatically interact with the vast amount of digital information surrounding an individual. Assistants might be able to automatically interpret email and spoken requests to schedule meetings, arrange doctor visits, handle insurance paperwork, develop simple legal agreements, etc etc. But this would require systematic ways of managing data and unstructured content, analyzing it through various lenses, and then taking actions. Again it may sound sci-fi today, but the technology pieces are ready. The world just needs someone to put them all together and surprise us. What do you think? 

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The End of Mapping (in B2B Integration)

Maps are the one of the most painful and costly aspects of a B2B integration program. But maps are also the most important part of your B2B program. Maps are the key conduit through which information flows from your enterprise applications (SAP, Oracle, Infor) into the systems of your business partners (customers, suppliers, banks). That means that every time you make changes to the data structures in your enterprise applications you also need to make modifications to the associated maps. Every time you win a new account, you need to create a new map that converts the information the customer sends into the format of your enterprise application systems. And maps cannot easily be ported from one vendor’s translation tool to another vendor’s. If you want to change translators then you often need to rewrite your maps completely. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to stop having to use maps? Shouldn’t we be able to develop an algorithm that can automatically map and convert the data from one file format into the format of another? This type of artificial intelligence technology is certainly within reach (if not already present). Consider that: IBM’s Watson can interpret natural language queries and respond with answers faster than even the world’s smartest Jeopardy players. Siri can interpret a wide variety of human speech patterns and respond within seconds with answers to most common questions. Shazam can listen to a 30 seconds of music playing on a radio and match it the artist and title of the song. Google Goggles can scan an item via a cell phone camera and identify it with a high degree of accuracy. So why can’t B2B translators consume structured files and automatically identify what the data fields in the source file map to the respective fields in a target? Fields like bank account numbers, street addresses, part numbers and unit prices follow a relatively consistent pattern that should be easily recognizable. Optical Character Recogition (OCR) software is able to do this today. OCR applications can scan and match fields on document such as invoices and paper checks with 90% or greater accuracy. It is time to replace the expensive and time consuming process of mapping with an algorithm. But how would you build such an algorithm? The algorithm should require minimal inputs. For example, the algorithm might be a RESTful API that requires only the name of the receiver, type of transaction and the input file format. For example, you should only need to tell the algorithm that you want to send an invoice to Walmart from the attached EDI file. Or that you want to send a wire transfer instruction to HSBC via the attached SAP Idoc. The algorithm would maintain a library of known blueprints for translating documents that it builds up over time. For example, the algorithm might have a set of blueprints for converting wire transfer instructions into the respective HSBC format. And it might have a set of blueprint for converting invoices into Walmart’s preferred format. Of course, there will be new translation scenarios for which no blueprints exist. In these scenarios the algorithm will need to auto-magically identify the input fields and correlate them to the associated output fields. This could be done by reading the tags next to each data field. For example, “Invoice #” next to a field is a dead giveaway. The key to success is building such an algorithm will be having enough sample data to test and optimize it until it is 99.999% accurate. We can take some lessons from companies such as Facebook and Google here. How did Google develop its online “translation” capabilities? They identified hundreds of books which had been reprinted in different languages. Google used these known associations between words and phrases from the books in different languages to build their language translation algorithm. How did Google develop its speech recognition capabilities? Google offered free “411” information lookups to gather a wide sample set of human speech patterns that it could use to build its voice recognition software. Cloud-based B2B integration providers could take a similar approach. They already have massive amounts of transactions that are being processed. These same transactions could be replayed in a test environment to refine and optimize an algorithm. It could take several years to optimize an algorithm, but whoever can crack the code on this first will be able to save their customers thousands of hours of mapping activities every year.

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