Q & A with OpenText Chief Marketing Officer James Latham

OpenText Corporation is Canada's largest software company, with twenty years of experience in enterprise content management. With various significant acquisitions in the last two years,

OpenText has repositioned itself with an even broader product range, now also covering web content management, business process management and secure file sharing services for enterprises. Special platforms enable access from all sorts of mobile and desktop devices for employees.

Asian eMarketing, met OpenText‘s Chief Marketing Officer James Latham for an interview to discuss the company‘s focus on mobility, and their investment and strategies for the Asia Pacific region.

Q: I‘m happy about the opportunity of a face to face interview with you, and I would like to talk about different issues, but with a main focus on mobility. Please present your company and how it is positioned in Asia, and what kind of solutions your clients can expect from you

A: OpenText is the world leader in Enterprise Content Management (ECM). When it comes to marketing, we tend to focus on content management in the context of digital asset management. We provide the capabilities of managing vast numbers of digital assets, making sure they are deployed, accessed and distributed properly to organizations that try to manage brand identities in countries around the world. If you can create a kind of river of digital assets, then you have the opportunity of influencing buyers at every stage of the buying cycle.

As an example, Marriott Hotels are using these capabilities, coupled with their actual web content management. It‘s about gathering assets appropriately, whatever and wherever they are , and presenting them in a new and compelling way on the web. The web experience management capability is another part of our software that we give to our customers. Behr Paint is another example: they allow you to paint rooms digitally using a combination of suggested or recommended colors from thousands available. That gives a very compelling, cinematic experience on the web. Those are the kind of things that appeal to marketers.

Q: What exactly is your function at OpenText? I understand you have a focus on the integration and collaboration of various marketing groups and on your company‘s global marketing strategy. Could you please give me more insight into your scope of work and the challenges and opportunities you are facing here in Asia.

A: I am chief marketing officer at OpenText, that entails the responsibility for all of our products in web experience management, ECM, and business process management. I am also responsible for global brand management. I work with the people in the field to drive that brand consistency around the world and help our sales people understand our message positioning and products. I‘ve been with OpenText for about three years.

Q: In a few words, what would you say are the unique characteristics making OpenText successful compared to competitors?

A: I think there are two main areas: one is a very very broad set of capabilities in web content management, digital asset management and portal management. The other is the scale of those. As an example, if you are going to manage 32 million videos that are captured and distributed everyday, then you need a highly scalable enterprise-class web and digital asset management. We are helping enterprises create those more compelling experiences on the web.

Q: I'm extremely interested in OpenText Everywhere as the focus of the issue is on mobility. I read that, a year ago, your company acquired the London based mobile application development tool vendor weComm to extend the flagship ECM to smartphones. Before that you purchased the business process management software Metastorm, the communication software provider Streamserve, in early 2010 digital content mangement system provider Nstein Tech, and the year before the competing content managemant provider Vignette. So, a lot happened in the past two years. I would like to hear a little about your journey.

A: Just a week or two after I joined, we embarked on a strategy to acquire very significant sized companies, hundred, two hundred, three hundred million dollar companies, in order to consolidate in the market place the capabilities for those three areas I mentioned before. In addition to Metastorm we also purchased Global 360. Those were two of the leading business process management software firms, so we instantly became a major player in that market. For years we have been the leader in enterprise content management, and our acquisition of Vignette propelled us into web content management. That was a more than 300 miliion dollar acquisition. The combination of those acquisitions and our investment in research and development, and integrating those together, has provided us with a very wide range of capabilities.

Specifically in the area of mobility, really compelling web experiences are happening a lot better if you have an application rather than just a mobile web site. We help our customers, the big brands, to build an app once and then deploy it on more than 900 different mobile plattforms. It saves them the time and energy of building an app over and over again for different mobile operating systems. We create a viable way for a brand to put a mobile app out there to be used an anything from a Blackberry to an iPhone. And that app creates a better experience for the customer.

Q: Please, tell me more about your product OpenText Everywhere.

A: We’ve had a product called OpenText Everywhere for about two and a half years and weComm is an additional wave of new capabilities that we’ve added to the mobility platform. It is typically an add-on, because you need a repository, either digital asset management repository or ECM repository to use it. However, while travelling, the mobile worker needs to access key intellectual assets within the organization, and digital assets of other types, like the marketing ones we talked about earlier. So, we expect with growing Smartphone penetration better and faster access to those kinds of assets. We provide the facilities and our customers are building apps and connecting them to their repositories.

Q: It is surely a challenge to stay up to date in this fast living environment.

A: It is always a challenge. The real challenge is, from a marketers perspective, to continue to combine the technology and the creative juice that is in markerters minds in order to create those experiences for the customer.

Q: The big question at the moment is: what’s a better solution - the app or the mobile web? Mobile devices are definitely surpassing the computer as a primary means of accessing the web. “The world is going mobile“ you say on your website. What impact does this have on OpenText and how does your company react to customers‘ demands?

A: We‘ve made our products more accessible to mobile devices, and have been specifically building applications and interfaces that work better on those devices, for accessing digital assets that might be in a digital asset manangement system. We offer a better way to access, to use, to deploy and to monitor the digital assets of an organisation on those devices themselves.

For example, we have a new product called OpenText Tempo which is essentially a secure way to do simple file sharing. It’s interface is easy to use, yet it‘s secure and protects companies from information leakages. Many pharmaceutical companies make use of our products and validated them with the drug regulation agencies, for things like aggregate spend, reporting, and federal drug administration submittals of trials.

Q: Your customer experience management covers a huge field and collects a lot of data, what advice could you give to a company that wants improve its performance? What should they consider in managing their customers, what would be your strategy for good results in no time?

A: We focus on the web experience part of the customer experience: we provide facilities that can do some very unique things that can qickly allow your customers to enjoy a better experience in their use of the web, in their use of social media, in their use of communities. You can create a community site very very quickly with our software and get your users, your customers, generating, communicating, and essentially reinforcing and advocating your products right there on the web.

Q: Is it a challenge for OpenText to protect all the data?

A: That‘s a strength we have had for more than 20 years with ECM. Information governance, regulatory compliance are capabilities that secure the knowledge, the information, the content, no matter how big it grows. It's our major strength. And now we've brought those capabilities, that strength, to the web and to the business process.

Q: How do you imagine the coming years for your industry in Asia?

A: I think in Asia, the growth is driving adoption of more and more technologies, more and more capabilities, and different usage patterns. I think the differences in language add an extra layer of challenge for digital marketing in the region. So you have to be cognitive and aware of what the cultural imperative is and what the languages are trying to portrait, and make sure that localization happens for each specific area or regional language. We're counting on rapid economic growth to offset our business in Asia and consequently invest in this region like many others.

Another challenge that we've been thinking through, and providing products for is to make sure your content is the same, your acces is the same, no matter which device (smartphone, tablet, notebook, desktop) you are using, and how is it all synchronized. In the consumer world you can use iCloud, but corporations, academic institutions and government organizations are not interested in providing iCloud to their users. We've created this product called OpenText Tempo that automatically synchronizes across all your devices. Tempo is about orchestration and about speed of business. It's brandnew, just released on January 31st, and becoming available on a global basis.

OpenText‘s products Everywhere, Tempo and Tempo Express Edition are especially interesting for companies in Asia, since they allow a quick set up of private and secure solutions for easily sharing, synchronizing content from any kind of mobile or desktop device, and providing rigorous records management and security that is required to meet internal policies and industry regulations.

By Daniela La Marca