Rising Stars: The Content Contender

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Content is supposedly king. There’s probably no company more invested in making sure that stays true than content management specialist Open Text. The old-timer in this year’s set of Rising Stars, Open Text was founded in 1991, and eventually grew to become Canada’s largest software company, booking $786 million in 2009 revenue in support of 100 million users across 114 countries—hardly a fresh new face on the scene. 

But Open Text knows that, as with content, newness isn’t the only thing of value. With a motto that promises to deliver “The Content Experts,” Open Text has continually reinvented itself, either through organic innovation or by acquiring much-needed capabilities. The last few years have seen acquisitions ranging in size from six-digit deals to nine-digit ones, with a splashy $310 million to grab Vignette, a lumbering and fading former rival in the content management space, overshadowing the $727,000 spent on quirky little Vizible, a maker of cutting-edge 3-D visualization software that turns standard Web pages into full-screen immersive environments. But then came the news in February 2010 that Open Text had scooped up Nstein Technologies (which particularly caught our attention since Nstein was on our shortlist for last year’s Rising Stars). The potential for Nstein’s text mining and semantic capabilities across Open Text’s portfolio is vast, to say the least. Most recently, Open Text acquired Burntsand, a boutique Canadian consultancy, in a move that will extend the company’s ability to connect with clients. 

“Open Text has always placed a high value on diligently managed content,” says Rob Koplowitz, principal analyst at Forrester Research. One offshoot of that valuation? A realization that content flows like water, and must be dealt with wherever it pools. To that end, Open Text has made itself the Switzerland of content specialists, with a raft of strategic alliances that include SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle. This platform-neutral approach has helped Open Text keep pace with nemesis IBM. (According to Seeking Alpha, Open Text’s market share is 18 percent, second only to IBM’s 22 percent.)

This year also marked the expansion of Open Text’s social efforts—primarily Social Communities (an uncommonly vibrant remnant of Vignette) and Social Workplace—and its Open Text Everywhere initiative, which promises “productivity on the move” in four steps: accelerate productivity; foster engagement; deliver content safely; and encourage adoption. “With their social offerings,” Koplowitz says, “[Open Text] will look to extend [existing] value out to social channels.” The real fun begins when Open Text finally blends its acquired skills in social and semantic and visual content. 

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