April brings about the kickoff of spring industry and technology focused conferences and briefing sessions for industry analysts including this independent supply chain industry analyst. Over the coming weeks I will be attending and sharing impressions a number of venues and events.

This week, I was invited to attend the Open Text 2016 Industry Analyst Event held in a Boston.  Some of our readers that may not be directly familiar with Open Text which categories itself as an Enterprise Information Management (EIM) technology support provider. However, they may be supporting their supply chain messaging and transactional needs from this vendor’s technology network.

Readers who have been following our Supply Chain Matters commentaries focused on end-to-end supply chain network technology platforms may recall GXS. In a 2012 commentary, this Editor declared GXS as a hidden gem in B2B information services. This company’s heritage stemmed from the late sixties with its initial founding as General Electric Information Services (GEIS) providing computer time-sharing to general users, migrating to support value-added network (VAN) services such as EDI for both GE and external clients. By 1998, GEIS’s global electronic trading community exceeded 100,000 trading partners, and in 2002, the renamed GXS was spun out as an independent technology services provider purchased by venture capital firms Francisco Partners and Norwest Venture Partners.

In 2005, GXS was provided the opportunity to acquire the former IBM EDI and Business Exchange Services network. In 2010, GXS also acquired a company called Inovis, which we later highlighted for its innovative B2B collaborative process support potential.

By 2011, this B2B services provider had garnered over 40,000 network clients including 75 percent of Fortune 500 customers. At the time, GXS direct materials and associated services networks were reportedly processing over 12 billion transactions representing a highly significant dollar volume of electronic commerce. In 2013, its network was renamed the GXS Trading Grid. Yet in all this time, GXS struggled to deliver robust profitability growth.

In November of 2013, GXS was acquired by Open Text for an estimated $1.2 billion, roughly 2.4 times GXS Fiscal 2012 revenues. The stated goal of the acquisition was to combine OpenText’s Information Exchange capabilities with GXS’s portfolio of B2B managed and integration services.

Since that time, we have monitored ongoing progress from a B2B supply chain network lens.

In June of 2014, this author scribed his impressions from the Open Text Industry Analyst briefing event. In summary, I had walked away with many open questions regarding the broad scope the strategy, and specifically, more concentrated strategy and emphasis on further leveraging B2B supply chain and specific manufacturing and retail industry and emerging online commerce support.

I purposely stayed away from the 2015 briefing event, but elected to attend this year’s event to ascertain progress in B2B supply chain network focused areas.

Because of current time constraints, I will refrain from a detailed commentary as to specifics. I can however share that the strategy is finally showing promise, one that brings together the tenets of EIM in the dimensions of supply chain messaging, managed services, business process management and deeper network-focused analytics.

In conjunction with this week’s Analyst event, Open Text formally announced OpenText Release 16, what the vendor describes as the most comprehensive, integrated digital information platform. OpenText Release 16 consists of two separate offerings, Open Text Suite 16 and Open Text Cloud 16, combined within a single platform that manages and analyzes the entire flow of information. In addition, OpenText Release 16 can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud or in hybrid cloud environments.

We learned that with Cloud 16, the GXS Trading Grid is renamed the Release 16 Business Network, and moves beyond information exchange will include support in process areas related to:

  • Procure-to-pay information and transactional management
  • Logistics track and trace
  • Trading partner digitization and analytics
  • Compliance
  • Electronic invoicing and Ecommerce needs
  • Supply chain analytics

Of further interest is planned introduction of what is termed as Supply Chain Activity Index, an analytical based aggregate view of the B2B network, and forms of Business Process Management (BPM) support for processes that span the supply and value chain network. These two areas should really peak interest, depending on eventual design and functionality.

As for now, this analyst is modifying his prior impressions. Open Text may indeed be on the road towards addressing the various complex and fast-changing requirements for supporting today’s globally extended B2B business process networks.  It is far more than messaging and EDI support.

Open Text may well have capabilities of interest from the perspective of a B2B network as a Digital Platform that exchanges various forms of mission critical transactional or regulatory information. While this development remains somewhat a continued work-in-progress, Open Text Suite 16 provides some promising opportunities for certain industry sectors, especially business networks supporting regulated business process requirements or those struggling with expanding needs to support unique content for various online customer fulfillment channels.

This analyst will provide added details at a later date along with continued assessment commentaries related to Open Text Suite 16 and its B2B supply chain business network development and product release efforts. In the meantime, if readers have specific questions, send us an email or call.

Bob Ferrari

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