Mark Barrenechea on the Information Advantage

Mark Barrenechea on the Information Advantage

May 21, 2019

We caught up with a candid and clever global leader in Enterprise Information Management, OpenText CEO and CTO Mark Barrenechea on his recent visit to Singapore to discuss the latest trends on security, governance, privacy and how data can be used for good.

By Joanne Leila Smith

Canadian-based, global EIM firm OpenText continues to invest and grow in the Asia Pacific region with ten percent of its revenue in 2018 (USD278 million) accounting from APAC alone. According to OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea, Asia Pacific is a major part of their strategic footprint, with expectations of double-digit employee growth over the next three years in this region.

“OpenText has 4,000 employees in the region now, it is an important market for us and we have been increasing our sales and engineering capacity in this region by investing in talent and go-to-market programs. Our customers see us as a partner in their journey of digital transformation and we have built an organisation with the ability to execute globally.  As supply chains and IT organisations continue to diversify and outsource, information sprawls and the war for talent intensifies, businesses need solutions and strategies to deliver growth,” says Barrenechea.

With twenty-five percent of the world’s largest 10,000 companies located in APAC, OpenText is keen to add to its portfolio which includes Malaysia Airports Holding, Berhad, DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance Company, DIC Asia Pacific Pte and Bank Mega.

“Asia Pacific’s important to us. Last year, we were roughly USD300 million business in Asia Pacific out of a USD3 billion company. Over the next decade, we aim to be the go-to-company to provide digital information platforms to help companies automate their information processes and deliver deep insights into their supply chains, employee base, suppliers, all data sources etc. We call this the information advantage,” says Barrenechea.

According to Barrenechea, this period of global digital transformation marks a golden era of technology.

“Every industry is transforming, disrupting, if there’s something in the middle to be disintermediated, it’s going to be, and we ain’t seen nothing yet. With the next wave of technology, the cloud still in early days, and with 5G… we can’t even conceive of what 5G is going to do. It will change engineering, design, media, entertainment, smart cities, car companies, insurance companies…everything,” says Barrenechea.

OpenText has three major verticals, the first is Content Services. Barrenechea claims they are a market leader with more than USD 1 billion in revenue in Content Services. The second is Business Network which generates in excess of USD 1 billion in revenue too.

“Some major banks use our Business Network service; Nestle’s global supply chain for procurement and BHP uses OpenText too. So those are two big markets for us,” says Barrenechea.

The third market is a maturing market for OpenText and Barrenechea says they are focused on maturing it as fast as they can. He says OpenText’s growth rate over the past ten years, (CAGR 15%), is looking healthy from both organic and acquisition growth.

“The Content Services and Business Networks’ markets together represent about USD30 billion market, and the winner in this market should have nearly 30% market share using technology. So that’s where the lion’s share of our innovation is going. We are also a maturing security business. We’re focused on scaling and maturing our analytics and AI business, which is a couple hundred-million-dollar business,” says Barrenechea.

With regards to trends in tech, particularly around security and governance, we asked Barrenechea his thoughts on cloud – as its still emergent, what direction does he think cloud governance, particularly around security and documentation control will take?

“When you look at enterprises, about 20% of the global 10,000 workloads are in the cloud. But the vast majority of workloads still run on premise. So it’s still early days for cloud. I know people like to talk about Salesforce and a CRM process, and Salesforce is a great company and they scale. But the vast majority of workloads still run off the cloud.  Security is difficult. Banks probably spend up to 30% of their IT budgets on security and the security landscape has changed significantly. Today, you have to assume that bad actors are already inside your network whereas five years ago, we assumed bad people were outside your network,” says Barrenechea.

With a new wave of perimeter technologies in the market, Barrenechea says the best security is to have a well-managed environment. He also believes the traditional separation of roles in compliance, regulatory affairs and security need to converge.

“I look at the breach at Citrix recently and a few others, and what they have in common is information was not managed tightly; it was sitting on a laptop, it was on a shared file drive, it was in box… Professional platforms need to be the deployed. I also see a change in roles. I see the CSO, internal audit, the data scientist, CIO, the Chief Data Officer, the Chief Privacy Officer etc., it’s necessary for these roles to merge together,” says Barrenechea.

On documentation control, there has been plenty of cross-industry initiatives and discussion around the scourge of modern slavery, with most of it being able to be detected through supply chain management systems. We asked Barrenechea how some of his products help the cause in terms of predictive analytics?

“We have auto companies, battery companies that run on our network. Five months ago, there was a CNN program on cobalt mining in Africa. It showed the cobalt market as a type of slavery market. Once cobalt came out of the ground, it was not a controlled supply chain until it got into the market. Cobalt is used by electric car manufacturers, and after this aired, and we got two phone calls from two very large auto companies on how we can deploy a better user business network to do track and trace in the supply chain. So we quickly put together how people had to certify the efficacy of the supply chain. We’re driving a fair amount of features right now into an initiative we call Project Emerald where we have all trading partners in a single database that can track and trace for ethical supply chains, integrate third party data sources etc., track and trace the source of aluminum, the source of the diamond or precious metals etc. I think this is a place where we can do good in the world,” says Barrenechea.

OpenText’s Project Emerald proposes to bring all of its 1.4 million trading partners into a single database, whereby the data can be leveraged and integrated into third party data to give suppliers an evaluation or credit score, which is then made available to customers.

“If I am a company like Nestle, and I buy coffee beans from Brazil, from Chile, but also from parts of Africa, I can evaluate my suppliers, my partners, and decide who I should buy from, I can trace and track all materials that are coming from different partners from different countries, and give them a scorecard. Based on that score, I decide who I buy from but also decide to publish certain information to my customers, or validate that there’s no child labor or any unethical processes used and publish that information on our trading grid for customers to access,” says Barrenechea.

Another hot topic concerning data security is identity-as-a-service, particularly around biometrics and its handling and storage.  With the advent of social media grooming users to give up personal data in exchange for access to a platform, it seems that consumers are only now coming to grips with how much data has been commoditized. We asked Barrenechea now that the trend on IAAS is moving towards biometrics, what are his thoughts on what to do with all that data?

“In California we had a serial killer. This was a cold case where they couldn’t identify the serial killer over 20 years. There was a fair amount of DNA evidence in a box file. So a very tenacious detective ordered a DNA kit through 23andMe, an ancestry tracking website. He pre-ordered it under a fake name and used clothing from the evidence box, which belonged to the victims, and sent it to registry.  People freely share their DNA, 10 million Americans have already uploaded their DNA… so the detective picked up the results and got two hits from relatives of the killer; he was able to triangulate to find the killer. That’s great lateral thinking,” says Barrenechea.

On a personal note, Barrenechea also shared a private example on how data can be used for good.

“I’m a cancer survivor, and my hospital wouldn’t do certain tests as they are not yet accredited in the US. But I used 23andme, I uploaded my DNA to get a certain profile to access cancer treatment. So here’s a service, where information can be used for good. However, with biomarkers, I personally encourage no one to upload their DNA. You just don’t know where it’s going to go. There was a recent article by an MIT Professor in the New York Times where he claimed that if he was given your DNA anonymously, he would find you in three hours, because there’s so much data available that can get from DNA; gender, ethnicity, race, religion, facial qualities, hair color etc. So the New York Times gathered 100 people’s DNA and he found them all within hours…. So privacy of data is an ongoing conversation; How is it going to be controlled? How is it going to be used? We encourage companies to use information for good. It is early days around privacy and biometrics…if ten million Americans have uploaded their DNA, that information can be used for good or bad. I think people need to pause and understand what they’re handing over,” says Barrenechea.

Another hot topic in tech in 2019 has been the trend to Bring Your Own Device in the workplace. Does this change in user expectation around devices at work impact the effectiveness of standardization around security? Barrenechea says the right tools and effective policy implementation are key.

“We allow and encourage, BYOD at OpenText. We acquired a company called Guidance which has a product called Interface, which is all about endpoint management. Being able to identify and monitor the device, forensics on the device etc. We have several products that assist with managing this trend. The in-case product and the agent we put on the device secures and monitors it from a forensic perspective. All of our platform content supports two-factor authentication and is integrated into our identity management. We do encryption at rest and encryption in flight, if you will, between point A and point B so that also protects the information. All of our products in the cloud have the ability to do self-service. If an employee leaves the company, in seconds, we can encrypt the content on any device so that information is no longer useful to them. Our recommendation to customers is they need to have policies on BYOD that employees adhere to and they need to have the measurement capability to ensure that employees are adhering to the rules of engagement,” says Barrenechea.

With consumer attitudes shifting on data collection and its uses, and the debate on whether privacy for play is a fair value exchange, Barrenechea says like all things tech, data management and privacy is an evolving process.

“The big shift in perception or public attitudes towards data collection and process is generational. I look at my nieces and nephews and, and they don’t really care. I look at my generation, and I really care. I mean, I fight constantly to keep my identity as secure as I can. I think we’ve lost the privacy war. GDPR is an attempt to put in checks on the rights of an individual to be forgotten.  As long as people keep volunteering their data, it’s going to be difficult to keep privacy in check. Maybe we need new tech in the way of identity containers… I know a law isn’t going to protect data absolutely, so there needs to be a new standard around identity containment,” says Barrenechea.

OpenText has offices in Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Malaysia, India, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and China. For more information on OpenText Content Services, Network and B2B Managed Services or OpenText Security and eDiscovery, click here.


(Image of Mark Barrenechea courtesy of OpenText at Enterprise World Asia Summit in Singapore, April 2019.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *