Open Text chairman and chief executive officer Tom Jenkins’ philosophy for FDI transcends two worlds: the virtual and the physical.

Advertisement

In his virtual world, Open Text provides enterprise content management solutions that not only control and manage business content and the repositories where it resides; it brings people, processes and information together across organisations around the globe. “It lives inside the internet like Facebook, Google or YouTube, except it’s inside the firewall,” he says.

Its business is growing fast since Open Text manages the content that continues to be created for the web and mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Androids. “We have a network of more than a billion people,” says Mr Jenkins.

Unlike most businesses that measure their global presence in capital terms, and 10-year or 20-year FDI cycles, Open Text measures its business in weeks and months. “This business is travelling at a speed of an electron,” he says.

Avoiding ‘excitement’

Open Text employs thousands of workers across several continents in corporate field offices where they handle customer interface. “But field offices are not exciting FDI ventures,” says Mr Jenkins. After all, he has been in the virtual world since the early days of the internet and the creation of Open Text.

Still, Mr Jenkins has specific requirements regarding FDI and site selection. “We feel we need to be located around the world in different locations because time zones and language do matter,” he says.

In making these decisions, the company evaluates traditional factors: local tax, currency and inflation rates, labour costs and overall costs that factor into any regulatory burden. “Of course, there’s quality of talent,” he adds.

Site selection

Top on the list, however, is the language of algorithms. This means locating near a university with a strong mathematics department.

“A university location is essential,” Mr Jenkins states. “We are in the business of harvesting human talent.”

To demonstrate this point, in the US the company is located in cities where there are renowned computer science schools: Austin, Texas; Irvine, California; Columbus, Ohio; and Chicago, Illinois. As a result, the company has large development and quality control operations in university centres in India, Germany, Canada and the US, as well as a big service organisation in the UK and major operations in Tokyo and Sydney. “Some of these operations vary from several 100 to more than 1000 employees,” says Mr Jenkins.

Open Text’s operations in Munich, Germany, are much bigger than those in Waterloo, Ontario, site of the company’s headquarters and where it was founded as a spin out of the University of Waterloo. But Open Text is now expanding its presence in Waterloo.

“Waterloo has lagged since, in the past, we made bigger efforts in Europe and Asia,” says Mr Jenkins. Waterloo offers increasing advantages because its Institute of Quantum Computing, an affiliate research institute of the University of Waterloo, is moving quantum computing into the next generation.

As Open Text gets more requirements to offer content and solutions in Mandarin, Mr Jenkins reveals the company will support this by expanding into China. “It goes hand-in-glove with opportunities for sales,” he says. But that location will not be in a place like Shanghai. “That city is oriented toward banking,” says Mr Jenkins. “We will more likely locate where the major computer science universities are in China.”

Curriculum Vitae

Tom Jenkins

2005Open Text Corporation

Executive chairman and chief strategy officer

1998Open Text Corporation

Chairman

1994Open Text Corporation

President