In late November last year I was asked to participate in APAC leg of our Innovation Tour events, starting with Sydney then travelling on to Singapore and Tokyo. The Innovation Tour is a unique series of events which OpenText hosts in various locations around the world and they complement our main customer conference, Enterprise World, which takes place in July each year. I thought I would use this blog to share some insights from these three events in APAC and hopefully encourage you to register for our upcoming events around Europe in March this year!
I always enjoy travelling to APAC, our customers in this region seem to prefer face-to-face meetings and so you can always guarantee great attendance at any event in the region. These were no exception and due to customer demand, each of the three events was twice the size of the previous years’ events. My participation was to provide an update on the progress we have been making with enhancing the B2B integration capabilities of our Business Network. I will expand in more detail on these enhancements in another blog in the next few weeks. My Business Network colleague Amy Perry provided an overview of some of our secure information exchange solutions at both the Sydney and Singapore events.
First stop was the Westin Hotel in downtown Sydney, an excellent location for our customers to come together to learn about the many enhancements we have made to our large portfolio of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions. Each event is in a one day format and we manage to blend a mix of formal and informal sessions to meet the needs of the customers at each location.
The structure for each event comprises of several keynote sessions in the morning and then a series of product specific breakouts in the afternoon. In addition there are various networking opportunities in our expo hall for customers to understand the finer workings of our EIM product offerings.
OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea, opened each event with an interesting keynote discussing the ‘Intelligence of Things’. The Internet of Things was a hot topic for many CIOs in 2016 and this session expanded on this theme by explaining how OpenText’s EIM solutions can help leverage digital business information, from ‘engagement to insight’, across the extended enterprise. Mark also discussed recent acquisitions and finished his session by explaining OpenText’s move into the area of cognitive based analytics. 2017 is certainly going to be an exciting year for OpenText and its customers. The morning sessions also included a presentation from the analyst firm Forrester and a ‘fireside chat’ style of customer interview with Tracy Parsons from the New Zealand Transport Agency. These events are built around our customers and so it is a great opportunity for the delegates to hear from their peers on how they are deploying OpenText technologies across their respective businesses.
Each Innovation Tour stop includes an expo hall where all of OpenText’s EIM solutions are showcased, this provides an ideal opportunity for delegates to see our new Release 16 enhancements and capabilities in action. Each of our six main EIM product offerings had its own demonstration pod and this provided an excellent opportunity for customers to get a more in-depth overview of our products.
Our Elite lounge provided a great location for customers to unwind and learn more about our customer loyalty program, a unique way to engage with OpenText in different ways and receive loyalty points for your time and effort!, more info on our Elite program can be found here.
For this particular event I presented two sessions relating to B2B integration, one looking at supplier enablement and another discussing our supply chain analytics solution. There was significant interest in our new analytics offering, Trading Grid Analytics, a unique way to utilise the transactions flowing across our Business Network to obtain deep and more meaningful insights as to what is going on across a supply chain operation. Interestingly at the end of the analytics session I was asked a couple of questions on Blockchain and what my thoughts were on its application across the supply chain. Just as well I had read up on Blockchain on the long flight across to Sydney! I will leave this topic for another blog, but as with IoT, Blockchain appears to be gaining traction in the market, especially in the financial services sector.
Next stop was the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. Singapore is an interesting city, a major technology and financial services hub and also a major cargo port as well. Singapore is a great example of a ‘connected’ city and Mark Barrenechea’s presentation on the Intelligence of Things was very well received by this particular audience.
Mark Barrenechea interviewed Ananda Subbiah, the Chief Customer Officer of Freestyle Technology, a start up IoT company that is seeing exponential growth at the moment. It was interesting to hear from Freestyle about their business and the unique opportunity they have to grow their business in one of the world’s leading connected cities. As with the interview with the New Zealand Transport Agency in Sydney, these so called ‘fireside’ chats provide a unique opportunity for our customers to share their experience of working with OpenText and our range of EIM solutions. Each stop on our upcoming European Innovation Tour will include a fireside chat with a customer. Our customer marketing team goes to great lengths to secure customers that can tell their story of how they are using our EIM solutions, but these fireside chats take these discussions one step further and in many cases add a more personal perspective of how these global companies work with OpenText.
There is immense consolidation in the high tech industry at the moment and one of OpenText’s B2B Managed Services customers based in Singapore, Avago Technologies, recently closed a major M&A deal to acquire Broadcom. The newly merged company is now called Broadcom Limited. This M&A activity is being driven by consumer and enterprise interest in new technologies such as wearable devices, drones, 3D printers and of course IoT. So it was great to get some insights from Freestyle on what was driving their business and how they plan to support their various customers in the future.
From a Business Network perspective I was certainly kept busy, I delivered three back-to-back sessions covering supply chain analytics, Marginal Gains theory and IoT. (I have written numerous blogs on each of these subjects in the past). I have been looking at the IoT sector for the past three years and during 2016 I spent some time trying to map out how our EIM solutions could support IoT applications across the supply chain. You can get more insights on this from a recent webinar that I hosted with a lead IoT analyst from Gartner. The breakout sessions were well attended but as always it was the customer interaction after each session that was valuable for me.
The last leg of this part of the Innovation Tour finished in Tokyo, a city that I have visited four times in the past few years. Our event was held just outside the city centre at a location that has various large technology company HQs located near our hotel. This particular event brought an extra level of complexity for our event organisers as all the presentations were in Japanese and we had real-time translators at the back of the room to ensure that our EIM message was efficiently translated in local language! This is a great example of how we tailor these events to suit the needs of our customers.
Japan is an interesting country and in recent years, adoption of cloud-based services has grown exponentially. Due to natural disasters, many Japanese manufacturers have had to try and find ways to build extra resilience into their supply chain operations. Hosting valuable company information in a local data centre in Tokyo is no longer the way to operate a global Japanese business and a cultural shift has seen companies move from behind the firewall software solutions to cloud offerings. For this reason, there was great interest in the EIM solution update presentation provided by Muhi Majzoub, OpenText EVP of Engineering. Muhi provided a great summary of the recent set of enhancements that we have made to our products and provided some insights into the future direction of our portfolio of EIM solutions.
Given that my Japanese language skills are virtually non-existent, I didn’t actually present at this particular stop on our Innovation Tour, but I did have three great customer meetings during the course of the event. This leg of my trip was to support our sales operation and over the course of five days I completed a sales training session for our Business Network team in Tokyo and I was then taken around some of our largest manufacturing customers in Japan. What I have found is that it is relatively easy to have customer meetings in Japan, mainly because companies are keen to hear about the latest industry trends from other parts of the world and in my role I can provide a mix of industry, technology and product trends to meet their appetites.
My hotel in Japan was located right above the central station in Tokyo, a great location to not only get to our office next door but to also travel on the bullet train to other locations such as Nagoya and Osaka where many of our manufacturing customers are based.
So there ends a brief review of my two week trip to APAC just before the holidays, a great opportunity to experience different cultures, but to also discuss our Business Network solutions with customers that are keen to automate manual, paper based processes and leverage the many enhancements that we have added to our Business Network over the past few months.