When Gartner declared enterprise content management dead in January 2017, some saw it as a publicity stunt, others saw it as a natural progression. Whatever your opinion, it marked a turning point for those in the content management industry. Content management is currently undergoing a transformational change, driven by new capabilities and functionality and a growing awareness of the role strong information management plays in many current initiatives. 

I've been speaking with leaders in the content management field to hear their take on the changes underway. Today we speak with Muhi S. Majzoub, executive vice president, Engineering and IT at OpenText. He is responsible for corporate and commercial IT, including cloud services, as well as defining the vision and strategy for OpenText products, leading the development organization and transitioning OpenText to the cloud. Prior to joining OpenText in 2012, Majzoub held executive positions at NorthgateArinso, CA Technologies and Oracle. 

Business Outcomes Are at the Heart of Content Services

Lane Severson: It’s an exciting time in the content management industry. Businesses are adopting capabilities and functionalities like cloud and machine learning, as well as innovative ways of working like DevOps and Agile to experiment and deploy new solutions more quickly. It seems like we might be at an inflection point where we start seeing something that could legitimately be described as transformational. What are you seeing in the industry that gets you excited these days?

Muhi Majzoub: Two things get me excited right now. The first is the mind shift across the industry when it comes to content services. OpenText has been a long-time advocate of using content services to extend ECM [enterprise content management] into business processes and the applications where that business process happens. Our customers have been incredibly successful using this model, and it is exciting to see how content services are now being used to transform their digital business processes.

The second, artificial intelligence [AI], is the most exciting new development in the industry today. We have just scratched the surface here. AI is changing the way we look at information and automation. It is changing human to machine interactions, it is changing how we automate processes and it is providing advanced analytics, insights and predictions. AI will be at the heart of intelligent enterprises. OpenText is investing in making the information we manage more valuable by mining structured information from unstructured content and automating business processes that typically humans have not really been very good at.

Related Article: Are We Really Having the 'ECM Is Dead' Conversation Again?

Severson: There’s a lot of pressure on organizations to deliver products and services at a lower cost with a higher level of quality and customer experience, while also providing value to their shareholders. Where should your clients be looking within their portfolio for high value opportunities?

Majzoub: Automation brings many high-value opportunities. The automation of business processes affects many of the metrics shareholders care about. Automation improves productivity, lowers costs, and improves quality and compliance. Automating mundane and/or time-consuming activities improves employee satisfaction and allows people to focus on the higher-level tasks that typically lead to things like better customer experiences.

Severson: Every time I talk to a client about issues they face, information security and customer privacy are at the top of their list. Do you see anyone who is really cracking the code on this issue? What are best-in-class firms doing to address these issues with content management?

Majzoub: With regulations like GDPR and the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal capturing headlines recently, security and customer privacy are top of mind for all businesses. Information is the agent of change in the digital world. Organizations must manage information, but the regulatory landscape is complex. At its root, data privacy protection is about good information management.

Amongst our customers, we see organizations that have committed to information governance programs have a good handle on security and privacy. They can already answer questions like: what data is considered sensitive? Where is it? Who has access to it (and should they)? Organizations that already have the best practices and have been using our technology to manage the lifecycle of information already have a lot of the tools necessary to respond to the requirements of new privacy regulations like GDPR. We are taking many of the best practices developed with our customers over the years and making them available through security and privacy readiness programs to make sure organizations that just starting these programs can have the right processes and technology in place to garner trust from their customers. 

Severson: Gartner claimed last year that ECM is dead and content services are the way of the future. In my mind, ECM always has been a strategy that had a variety of technologies supporting it. Semantics aside, where do you see the content services approach providing value to the industry?

Majzoub: I agree with you. A major benefit of Gartner’s redefined view is that it places business outcomes at the heart of the definition. This has always been our approach: looking to enhance business processes and applications with content services.

Content services will have the greatest impact in overcoming many of the shortfalls and issues associated to content management in the past. Many of the things that were done in good conscience in ECM projects have been disastrous to success and adoption. In the name of control and findability, we have all seen onerous metadata, complex folder structures, confusing permissions. 

Using content services to extend into applications ensures that information is captured and used in context — in a user interface that the user is already familiar with. Most importantly, using content services to extend content management doesn’t sacrifice what we have been trying to achieve over the past few decades. It ensures we can have a single source of truth, a digital backbone for business processes that allows us to automate the governance of our information.

Digital Transformation Is More Than Replacing Paper-Based Processes

Severson: A huge failure of content management projects in the past was the focus on just archiving a final copy of a piece of content after the business process was over. We talk to people all the time who haven’t gotten value from their investment in content management. Doesn’t the magic happen when you combine flexible process engines and a scalable archive?

Majzoub: This is exactly what we have been building to: changing the way we look at content management is the real magic. For too long, we have based our view of content management on the analog process of filing paper in physical cabinets. Once the business process is complete, we file the important information, most likely never to be used again, but safely stored for audit, compliance and continuity purposes. When we look at content services as a way to embed content management directly into a business process, making it completely transparent to the end-user, we see great things happen when it comes to adoption. We also see great things happen when it comes to the value of that information.  When we contextualize documents with information from the business process, we can surface them automatically in down-stream processes. Our customers can report on them, and we are even seeing customers using their archives as part of their data lakes, combining it with other information to create new value.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: Disruption Demands We Look at Content Through a New Lens

Severson: “Digital transformation” means a lot of different things to different people. But at the core the issue facing organizations is they have lots of siloed processes and legacy technology investments and somehow they need to turn those challenges into opportunities. What tips can you offer to organizations struggling with this issue? 

Majzoub: Firstly, businesses need to look beyond the term and think about what the process truly means for them. Digital transformation is much more than replacing paper-based processes. Digital transformation has become the platform to bolster business innovation and customer engagement for success.

Efficiency, usability and insight are three foundational pillars that help support and drive digital transformation.

To organizations that are struggling with their digital transformation, I would council them that they cannot build on a shaky foundation of poor information management. Information is now the strategic asset that organizations must leverage to make better decisions, to drive innovation and to engage with customers in ways that drives business value and customer loyalty.

Severson: Let’s get a little speculative. I know you are a visionary guy. We can imagine a world where artificial intelligence becomes a common part of the toolkit. So what would it look like if you were to imagine a really good AI working in concert with all of these elements of content management we’ve been discussing?

Majzoub: "Hey OpenText, what is our policy on revealing our roadmap in advance?"

All joking aside, OpenText helps our customers manage enormous amounts of structured and unstructured information, we connect and automate supply chains, we manage and secure IoT devices, and we already use AI and automation to tackle really big problems like legal review, intelligent capture and contract analytics. We see AI as a way to understand and open up this information — we actually are thinking about things like conversational queries. We also see AI and automation as an exponential force on data, creating a cycle of more data, more use cases, and even more AI. The next decade is going to be very, very interesting!

Severson: Any parting shots or burning topics that I didn’t ask you about?

Majzoub: We briefly touched on security and customer privacy, but I wanted to revisit quickly since we are fresh out of Enfuse 2018, OpenText’s annual security, digital investigations and e-Discovery conference. We discussed several topics, but one major theme that is sticking with me is how we can bring security to the edges of the network and beyond.

Some of the largest global companies rely on EIM solutions to help secure, manage and gain insight from information. If organizations take a security-first mindset to content management, this would extend security and help protect data at the heart of every business. A security-first strategy in EIM is vital to protecting the intelligent and connected enterprise.

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