NASHVILLE — First IBM Watson, then Slack and HipChat. 

OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea targeted all three during his keynote Tuesday at Enterprise World at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

Barrenechea claimed OpenText, a 25-year-old Waterloo, Ontario-based enterprise information management company, has the capabilities to lead in cognitive predictive analytics (over IBM) — and enterprise collaboration (over Slack and HipChat).

Before a crowd of about 2,000, Barrenechea unveiled Project Bandaroo, OpenText's social software ecosystem for the enterprise. The project — still a prototype — encourages enterprise collaboration through social communities, information and project channels, bots and information management. It's built on OpenText Core, the company’s file-sharing and collaboration cloud platform. 

Bandaroo will “change the nature of the way we work,” Barrenechea boasted, adding that OpenText technology can dethrone popular platforms like Slack and HipChat.

Looks a Lot Like ... Slack?

OpenText is not the first company to try to beat Slack

But is it trying to be Slack? During a preview of the Project Bandaroo prototype, the similarities in the platform were hard to ignore. Here’s OpenText’s Project Bandaroo collaboration platform:

OpenText Bandaroo prototype for enterprise collaboration

And here’s Slack’s user interface:

slack interface

When asked, “Was that Slack?” during a post keynote press conference, Barrenechea said simply, “No. That was Bandaroo." He added that Slack "has similar concepts, there’s no doubt. So does HipChat and a couple others out there. It wasn’t Slack.”

Slack did not respond to CMSWire's request for comment.

Cathy McKnight, co-founder and VP of consulting and operations at New York City-based Digital Clarity Group, attended Enterprise World. She said Bandaroo “sounds a lot like Slack and Yammer, and even IBM Connections.” OpenText, she added, has "lots of vision and aspiration to be IBM-like — to be a leader and innovative. But as with all vendors, time will tell how it all comes to fruition.” 

Channels, Not Walls

Barrenechea told CMSWire that Slack has “done some great things.” But social collaboration for the enterprise really hasn’t “busted through.”

“Social technology really hasn’t made an impact on productivity,” Barrenechea said in his keynote. “Our view will have an impact.”

Like Slack and others, OpenText said the modern way to view social collaboration in the enterprise is through channels, and not walls. 

“It may look like Slack,” he admitted. “I know Slack very well.”

Learning Opportunities

See Slack’s view on channels. 

Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst for the Future of Work at Monta Vista, Calif.-based Constellation Research, was philosophical. "Everything looks like Slack these days," he said.

"Channels — or rooms or groups or whatever — on the left, conversations in the middle, and ideally another sidebar on the right for details. There are dozens of Slack-clones out there."

Vendors who want to differentiate need to provide more than a chat room. Lepofsky cited Cisco Spark, which is focused on seamless text, voice and video integration across all its hardware and software. Domo Buzz is focused on bring analytics into the conversations. 

"OpenText will need to focus on its (enterprise content management) ECM strengths, and not try and be a messaging platform," Lepofsky said.

OpenText promised to leverage its ECM strengths in Bandaroo, like its document-sharing and other functions captured in this tweet:

Collaborating Robust Projects

Barrenechea cited project management as “very important.” Channels allow workers to hold specific conversations relative to those channels, such as HR, legal, IT and finance.

“Project teams can create their own channel and do all their collaboration and project work under the notion of a channel,” Barrenechea said. “That’s going to require a very strong content management system underneath.”

OpenText introduced bots that help users find documents through the Bandaroo platform. Barrenechea called the notion of bringing a bot into social collaboration “brilliant.” (Cisco apparently agrees, based on its partnership this week with Gupshup.)

‘We’re going to leverage (bots), believe me,” he said. “It’s really about leveraging all the APIs and services you have in your infrastructure. You just give it a nice name.”

Title image by Taylor Nicole