Celonis: Democratising Process Mining

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Celonis is a specialist process mining technology provider, offering its web-based tool in the cloud as well as on-premises. In a technology space that’s historically been dominated by highly technical, specialist workstation-based tools, Celonis has stood out since its initial product release. Its mission is to “make process mining available to everyone”, and in line with this Celonis has long had a very strong focus on product usability as well as customer education.

Top takeaways

All about making Process Mining easy

Celonis is a specialist process mining technology provider, offering its web-based tool in the cloud as well as on-premises. The company has grown revenue at least 100% in each of the years since its founding, and currently employs around 300 people.

In a technology space that’s historically been dominated by highly technical, specialist workstation-based tools used as part of an academically-flavoured, niche pursuit, Celonis has stood out since its initial product release. Its mission is to “make process mining available to everyone”, and in line with this Celonis has long had a very strong focus on product usability as well as customer education.

Explore Celonis if you want to engage your organisation in process improvement

Celonis’ venture investment, combined with its strong relationship with enterprise technology behemoth SAP and its long-standing dedication to customer success, are enabling it to ‘break out’ of the historically niche box that process mining technology has been constrained by. Celonis is an obvious vendor to talk to if you have a mandate to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your organisation’s business processes – particularly if you want to promote a culture of responsibility and inclusivity, where people work to improve processes and drive change (rather than having change ‘done to them’).

Introducing Celonis

Celonis is a specialist process mining technology provider, offering its web-based tool in the cloud as well as on-premises. The company was founded in 2011 by an analytics research team based in Munich; the team was approached by a large corporation needing help analysing a very large process log dataset, and decided to build its own analysis tool after researching the existing market and finding that none of the available tools really fitted its needs.

Celonis has grown revenue at least 100% in each of the years since its founding, and currently employs around 300 people. It has more than 350 customers in 25 countries, including Siemens, Adobe, Cisco, 3M, Dow Chemical, UBS, BASF, Bayer, Vodafone, Nestlé and Airbus. In 2016 the company took $27.5m in its first venture funding round (from Accel Partners and 83North).

Celonis’ customers are typically medium-sized or large enterprises that use the technology to discover, explore and improve their core business processes (Vodafone, for example, used Celonis Process Mining to make significant improvements to its end-to-end procure-to-pay business process), and many of its customers have extensive datasets under management and large teams of tool users. Its largest customer has over 5,000 tool users, working across over 60 processes.

In a technology space that’s historically been dominated by highly technical, specialist workstation-based tools used as part of an academically-flavoured, niche pursuit, Celonis has stood out since its initial product release. Its mission is to “make process mining available to everyone”, and in line with this Celonis has long had a very strong focus on product usability as well as customer education.

Inside the Celonis offering

Celonis has one core product – Celonis Process Mining – and also offers training, analytical content and consulting services. Since September 2015 the company has also licensed a version of the technology to SAP for resale, called SAP Process Mining by Celonis.

As with other process mining tools, analysts use Celonis Process Mining to gather log data from source software systems, create visualisations of the flow of work through those systems, and then explore process patterns to uncover situations that cause errors and inefficiencies or exacerbate risks (see figure 1).

Using Celonis Process Mining, analysts can explore patterns of work and visualise those as sets of business process variants. Starting by exploring the most frequent activities and connections – the so called “happy path” – analysts can drill down to explore more detailed variants that are expressed in subsets of the log data, analyse how these variants differ from each other, and explore the causes of those differences. Often, of course, what at the highest level can seem like a set of process cases following a ‘happy path’ in fact hides one or more process variants that reflect significant process rework, steps being missed or tasks being completed out of order, and so on.

Celonis’ tools also make it easy for you to bring data that reflects key business information values (such as vendor data, purchase amounts, material groups, purchasing organisations and payment terms in an exploration of a procure-to-pay process, for example) into your analysis, and it’s also possible to visualise that in the context of variants. This helps with root-cause analysis, and also helps you understand the business impacts of problems.

This same flexibility makes it straightforward to explore and analyse process performance based on the identities of the individuals and teams carrying out tasks (so you can understand where there might be training gaps, for example). A standard analysis that checks for required separation of duties is also available, through Celonis’ Content Store (see below).

Figure 1: The Celonis Process Cockpit

Source: Celonis

Celonis’ analyst tools enable individual analysts to create and configure their own reports and assemble their own dashboards, and an add-on – Celonis Office Integration – makes it easy to export analysis findings to Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint. Analyses can also be created and automatically distributed via email at defined regular intervals, making it easy to ensure up-to-date reporting.

Celonis Proactive Insights (Pi)

In 2017 Celonis introduced a significant new capability, called Proactive Insights (Pi), as a core part of its product. Essentially, Pi is a machine-learning powered analytics technology layer that sits on top of Celonis Process Mining’s core analysis functionality; providing automated analyses to help guide users in their explorations.

Pi’s capabilities revolve around process conformance checking, from two perspectives.

First, with ‘PI Conformance’, analysts can import a BPMN diagram that represents the model of a process as it should be executed; and then easily see the extent to which actual process execution follows the model. Pi’s algorithms analyse the level of match between the ‘source’ model and the case paths it reconstructs from log files, and also help with root-cause analysis by highlighting any particular case features that are correlated with violations (for example, if orders that include a particular product are a common feature in order processing that diverges from the standard model).

Second, there’s the ‘Pi Companion’. This brings analyses from Pi algorithms into the applications that individuals use as they perform day-to-day work, and presents recommendations and alerts to application users based on those analyses. The Companion interface is contextually-aware: meaning that work recommendations or alerts are always in-context with the work that a given user is doing. Today, Celonis provides the Celonis Pi Companion for SAP Netweaver Fiori (making it available alongside all modern SAP application implementations); it’s working on making Companion available for other application UI frameworks, too.

The Celonis Content Store

The Celonis Content Store, introduced in 2015, is a collection of apps and connectors that customers can download and use in order to jump-start their process mining efforts. Built largely from assets created within customer engagements, the Content Store currently contains over 300 preconfigured, specialised analysis templates and a library of over 60 connectors and extractors. These cover sources like application suites from SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce and many others, as well as common RDBMSs (including Oracle, SQLServer, DB2, PostgreSQL, Ingres and MySQL).

Consulting services

Although Celonis offers consulting services for customers, it’s typically focused principally on helping customers run pilot projects, explore its technology and transfer knowledge and skills. Most implementation work, where not carried out by customers themselves, is carried out by Celonis’ partners. Over 80% of Celonis’ revenue comes from software licensing.

Partners

Celonis has more than 80 partners and several strategic partnerships, spanning technology providers (e.g. SAP, Salesforce, ServiceNow), technology-focused systems integrators and more business-focused consultancies.

SAP is among Celonis’ core partners, and SAP Process Mining by Celonis drives a significant amount of revenue for Celonis. KPMG and Deloitte are the company’s two most significant consulting partners today.

One other partner ecosystem worth highlighting relates to Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Celonis works alongside RPA vendors to help customers first explore their business process landscapes to understand areas that are likely to be most amenable to automation with RPA; and second, to understand how well their RPA implementation is performing in a broader business process management context.

Packaging and pricing

Celonis licenses its software according to the number of processes an organisation wants to analyse and monitor. In addition to software licensing, customers typically license the Content Store to speed up implementation and adoption and leverage pre-defined content; and the Celonis Training Cloud to train users on the software.

Recommendation

Celonis’ venture investment, combined with its strong relationships with enterprise technology providers and its long-standing dedication to customer success, are enabling it to ‘break out’ of the niche that process mining technology has historically been constrained by. Celonis is an obvious vendor to talk to if you have a mandate to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your organisation’s business processes – particularly if you want to promote a culture of responsibility and inclusivity, where people work to improve processes and drive change (rather than having change ‘done to them’).

Celonis Process Mining’s web-based tools will be particularly useful if you’re looking to enable a team of analysts to work together to explore data, and its business approach will be attractive if you want to get started quickly with minimum cost and risk. Of course, SAP Process Mining by Celonis will be particularly worth exploring if your organisation is on the path to system transformation, e.g. cloud migration or adopting SAP S/4HANA.

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