From blue-chip companies to governments, many of the world's largest and most innovative organizations run on information management technology built by a Waterloo, Ontario software leader.

OpenText Corp., which began as a University of Waterloo project to digitally index the Oxford dictionary, has grown from a start-up serving niche markets in 1991 to Canada's largest software company with over 100,000 customers worldwide across virtually all industries. From its initial trio of founders, OpenText has expanded to a global team of about 12,000 employees in more than 130 countries.

"We service clients in about 170 countries around the world," says Adam Howatson, Chief Marketing Officer at OpenText. "We provide the systems and platforms that the largest companies and friendly governments in the world need to better manage their flow of information, work more efficiently, and transform into a truly digital organization."

Technology and services that help companies compete in today's digital reality

How does OpenText do all this? Howatson points to the company's combination of technology solutions and consulting services, which OpenText delivers to customers as part of an overall enterprise information management strategy to manage, secure and optimize the huge volumes of data that flow in and out of today's large organizations.

OpenText technology and services cover critical areas such as content, business process and customer experience management, network security and compliance, supply chain management, and data analytics. The company's client roster includes such big names as Nestle, Toyota, HP and L'Oreal.

"Depending on the business, the solutions we would provide to our clients might be things like our artificial intelligence platform called Magellan, which companies can use to predict activity within their supply chain or within talent management," says Howatson. "Companies today are undergoing fundamental change – we hear all the time about how businesses and industries are being disrupted through digitization. We build the information management systems that allow companies to compete and thrive in this new reality."

Being located in Ontario's Toronto-Waterloo technology corridor has been a competitive advantage for OpenText.

"We get all the benefits of being in an innovation hub but with lower business costs than Silicon Valley," he says. "Ontario is a truly competitive business environment."

A rich source of highly skilled workers

As an Ontario-based company, OpenText has close access to a deep pool of highly skilled workers, says Howatson. The company constantly drives innovation, thanks in large part to its team of more than 3,000 engineers, data scientists and software developers.

"We need more of this type of talent, along with sales people, creative professionals, finance specialists and general administrative staff," says Howatson. "Fortunately we have access to so much talent in Ontario."

Ontario post-secondary schools have been rich sources of skilled workers for OpenText, adds Howatson. In particular he cites the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, which are located just minutes away from OpenText headquarters.

A place that makes it easy to attract and retain top talent

OpenText also hires people from around the globe to work in Ontario. The province and country's reputation as a great place to live makes it easy to attract and retain these international employees, says Howatson.

"The Canadian brand is extremely strong internationally, and that helps us tremendously," he says. "This year, for the first time ever, we chose to bring our annual user conference to Toronto and we saw attendance increase by almost double because Toronto and Canada as a whole are seen globally as attractive destinations."

Great partnerships within an innovative ecosystem

As part of an innovation corridor that stretches from Toronto in the east to the southwestern technology triangle of Cambridge-Kitchener-Waterloo, OpenText has found it easy to build partnerships with other leading-edge companies such as SAP Canada.

Mr. Howatson also sees potential for partnerships with researchers and companies in Ontario that are focused on artificial intelligence. The province boasts a fast-growing AI community with more than 200 companies in the field.

"We're looking to leverage Ontario's expertise in AI," says Howatson. "We're hungry for data scientists and mathematicians who can build AI algorithms."

Mr. Howatson says OpenText has had many opportunities – and invitations – to move to Silicon Valley in the U.S. But it just makes good business sense to stay in Ontario.

"It really comes down to a variety of circumstances and factors, such as access to capital, a good feeder system for talent, and an innovation ecosystem that allows us to build great partnerships with other innovative companies," says Howatson. "We are proud to be an Ontario and Canadian company."

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December 15, 2017

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