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Celonis moves beyond process mining X-Rays towards process mining MRIs - seeking out interdependencies

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez November 9, 2022
Process mining vendor Celonis has today launched a range of new features that aim to extend process mining beyond individual processes, as well as open up its platform to a broad range of users.

An image of Alex Rinke, Co-CEO of Celonis on stage in Munich
(Image taken by diginomica)

Process mining is increasingly a top priority for enterprises as they look to reengineer how their organizations run, in the hope that they can move beyond digital tooling to drive change and seek out efficiencies at the core of their operations. Celonis has been at the forefront of this agenda, racking up a respectable list of high profile customers in recent years that are publicly talking about the savings driven through their use of the platform. 

For the past decade Celonis has being going to market with its Execution Management System (EMS), which analyzes processes end-to-end, makes recommendations for improvements and also self heals where possible. However, today at Celonis’ annual user event in Munich, the company is taking this even further - broadening process mining to incorporate process interdependencies, allowing organizations to understand how one process impacts another. 

Celonis describes this as taking its platform from being a process ‘X-Ray’ to being a process ‘MRI’, where the X-Ray focuses on an individual area of the organization (or a single process) and an MRI provides a full scan (an understanding of the role all processes play, including with each other). 

Celonis is calling these new capabilities ‘Celonis Process Sphere’, which it says provides a “multi-dimensional understanding of processes and all related business factors and dependencies”. 

You can see from the below snapshot how Sphere essentially provides a subway map for an organization of its processes and their interdependencies. 

An image of Celonis Sphere map
(Image sourced via Celonis)

Not only this, but Celonis is also looking to broaden the impact of its processing mining platform by providing new collaboration and user interface capabilities, so that the technology can move beyond expert users and centers of excellence, reaching new business users and roles. Celonis Business Miner is a new ‘workspace’ that surfaces insights for users that can help them better understand how their processes are working across a number of systems, including ERP, SCM and CRM. 

Importantly, Miner works on a ‘question and answer’ format, providing users with examples of solutions they should be seeking out to drive efficiencies. It creates snapshots of process and users can share these directly from within Celonis, where recipients will have access to the same data, the same insights and they will be able to collaborate around the data from within the platform. 

You can see from the screenshot below how Miner shows the organization its optimization potential and puts a dollar number to that too. 

An image of Celonis Miner dashboard
(Image sourced via Celonis)

diginomica got the opportunity to speak to Celonis Co-CEO and Co-Founder, Alex Rinke, about the new features ahead of the product launches today. Rinke said: 

We’ve worked on this for a couple of years now in stealth mode and we are finally ready to release it to the world. We are going back to our core. Process mining is this really foundational technology that our system is built upon - but we are basically completely reinventing it. 

We were the first to bring process mining to the market at scale. And now more than 10 years on, we’re launching the next generation and we think it's going to fundamentally change how businesses, especially during these tough times, navigate these challenges. 

What we are doing is happening across two dimensions, primarily. Firstly, we are going to offer a completely new perspective on how people view their business. We call it the MRI, so we’ve upgraded from the X-Ray to the MRI - it provides a much more holistic understanding of what’s going on in the business. 

But that’s not just within individual processes, but within groups of processes. Businesses really consist of multiple processes. 

Secondly, we expose this deep understanding and this deep perspective to everybody in the company in a very easy to use and easy to digest way. So it’s not just something that experts use to gain insight and make decisions, it really is available across any business user, any role and any seniority. So this powerful technology can really have maximum impact. 

Going deeper

Rinke provided diginomica a demonstration of both Process Sphere and Business Miner ahead of the launch this week. And the capabilities do look both intuitive and impressive. In the example provided, Rinke showed how multiple processes can be illustrated within Spher, showing where they interconnect, and where there are hold-ups within each individual process. 

The illustration was particularly compelling when Sphere mapped where and when two or three processes in an enterprise come together, as well as where those processes had been previously and where they go beyond that meeting point. Seeing an organization mapped out in such an intuitive way is rare in the world of enterprise software. Of course, this was just a demonstration, not a real life enterprise with all the complexity and mess - but nonetheless, it’s clear the Sphere platform holds huge potential. 

But beyond that, it’s the Miner capabilities that really hold the value, in my opinion. The system was able to easily display how much an organization was able to save and in what areas by highlighting two or more processes. It puts a literal dollar number in front of the user - the optimization portential - which will no doubt be very motivating for an organization to dive into fixing their processes. Rinke said: 

There are two big components to this. One, we want to make the user interface so easy to consume that anybody can consume it, right? This is really geared towards democratizing access to this powerful insight and improving business execution at a much greater scale. Companies that expose this to more and more users really undergo a paradigm shift. 

The other piece, Process Sphere, is really based on this new technology called object centered process planning. And the idea is that having analyzed thousands of processes, or tens of thousands of processes, or hundreds of processes over the last ten years, we realized that the biggest opportunity is at the intersection of multiple processes - your quotation process and your sales process, or your sales process and your shipments. 

There are a whole set of business questions that don’t relate to a single process. That provides a whole new perspective on your business. Once we saw this and we knew that we could make it happen, it was a very easy decision for us, because we knew that this is how it should work. 

Making a platform play

Looking forward, and perhaps the most interesting announcement of the day (if you consider the long-term potential for Celonis), the vendor announced that a partner company, Emporix, will be releasing a new Commerce Execution platform, underpinned by the Celonis platform. 

Essentially, Emporix will essentially be using Celonis as the engine for a new product to help drive intelligence for complex commerce interactions for its enterprise buyers. Celonis said that companies will be able to monitor and adjust their end customers-interactions on the commerce platform in real-time, using process intelligence signals. 

For example, Emporix CXP will tackle common supply chain problems, such as product substitutions and switching at their roots. By using real-time data from the supply chain in Celonis, Emporix CXP can offer “intelligent substitutions”. 

For instance, if the platform determines that a product is likely to be late, it recommends better-performing products based on real-time data on date changes, cancellation rates, on-time rates, days of coverage, and more. The system, Celonis said, continually interacts with the business customer while he or she is making the purchase. 

But whilst this is interesting in isolation, it’s particularly noteworthy within the context of how Celonis could become more of a platform play going forward - where it sees new companies using its process mining capabilities to launch new companies and products. Rinke said: 

Emporix said they wanted to build a next generation platform to support a major process in the company, the commerce processes - meaning selling to your customers, returns processing, those sorts of things. 

But they wanted to build the next generation version of that, embedding the Celonis platform, so that they benefit from this real-time insight in order to build a better application and leapfrog the status quo in terms of commerce. 

We think there could be many more of those examples down the road.

On top of this intelligence and stack you can now build applications. You can build applications using this context to inform the next stack. You can use Celonis as the brain to fuel applications, so that problems don’t even arise, you can fix them before they even appear. We think that success can be really well replicated.  

My take

Just as process mining begins to hit the mainstream across the enterprise software world, with a number of vendors thinking about how they can incorporate it into their offering, Celonis once again aims to lead the way. As noted above, the demonstrations that were shown to diginomica were impressive in their ability to take complex operations and then provide simple insights for a user that boil down to significant dollars saved. 

But I think the thing to really watch out for, if Celonis can make it work, is how it could become a platform play for other companies to spring up around its process mining and execution capabilities. Much the same way Salesforce has been able to foster a community of vendors that use its platform at its core, Celonis has an opportunity - given its unique capabilities - to do something similar. Instead of adding process mining at a later date to fix a swathe of problems, it would be very interesting to see what was possible if intelligent process mining was simply embedded at the core. 

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