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Celonis’ new EMEA chief focused on time to value in tough economic times

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez September 13, 2023
Summary:
Philippe Mathieu has been appointed Celonis’ Go-to-Market Leader for EMEA, having previously worked at Palantir and Oracle.

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Celonis’ new Go-to-Market Leader for EMEA, Latin America and Asia-Pacific, Philippe Mathieu, says that the economic disruption being seen in the market is a good opportunity for the vendor to demonstrate value to existing and new customers. With buyers facing uncertainty thanks to increased interest rates, rising inflation and tempered demand, extra scrutiny is being placed on technology purchasing decisions and cash management. 

Celonis has precedent when it comes to driving efficiencies for its customers, with the likes of Deutsche Bank and BP publicly sharing that they’ve saved millions of dollars using the vendor’s process mining execution management software. Mathiue is keen to showcase how the Celonis platform can be used to deliver on driving business performance and solving the big problems for buyers. 

Mathieu has extensive experience in the B2B software industry, having previously run operations in EMEA for companies that include Palantir and Oracle. He says: 

The way I view Celonis is like a raw diamond. We are still at the beginning of our journey, in a market that is pretty hot. It’s very promising. 

I think the current economic turbulence is an opportunity for a company of our nature. When you have the interest rates rising, the importance of cash management, the disruption of supply chains - all these topics make us very relevant. 

diginomica recently highlighted how Celonis is expanding outside of ‘centers of excellence’ in organizations, into lines of business, by opening up the experience of process mining for more users. It is doing this in a number of ways, including through building guided experiences for users and opening up the platform to allow for development on top of it via API access. Mathieu says: 

We are strong in the office of the CFO, but we are looking to expand beyond that and we are ready. I think we can expand to the core business of customers, when we talk supply chain, production matters, etc. 

In an economic downturn, I tend to focus more on the existential problems of customers - and that’s an area we have proven ourselves and I think we have a lot to demonstrate. 

Quickly demonstrating value

Mathieu said that Celonis already has good coverage, in terms of an install base, with approximately 1,500 customers - but added that now it is time to expand and industrialize. The first priority is landing new customers, for which it is relying heavily on customer advocacy (existing customers sharing their Celonis stories). And secondly, it’s focused on generating value for existing customers, showing a return on investment, and deriving full benefit. 

Celonis typically approaches the market by implementing pilots and then expanding from there - or as it’s more commonly known, a ‘land and expand’ approach to implementation. Mathieu says: 

As we speak to customers, what we try to address is the ambitious problems. There is nothing more critical. Bringing an answer in a matter of no time, that’s really the way that we prove ourselves. 

We do this by landing a pilot, demonstrating the value, and converting on the back of that. There is no check given up front in terms of ‘let’s wait and see what is derived in terms of value’. 

It’s down to proving the points and generating value, that’s how we expand. 

Mathieu also believes that Celonis has a competitive advantage in being European-born, given the increased importance placed in enterprises on data protection agendas and security. He has worked for US-based companies for the past 25 years, but believes that being based in the EU will help decision makers side with Celonis given the increased scrutiny from regulators and customers.

However, Celonis and Mathieu are acutely aware of the pressures facing organizations at the moment - and the key focus is releasing that cash from technology projects. Mathieu adds: 

I think what customers are looking for is a platform to manage their business execution and to drive performance. It’s not only about process mining, it’s about driving the overall performance of companies. 

You look at things as they are today, customers are under a lot of pressure to cut costs, improve their working capital, improve their effectiveness in the disruptive world we are in. And also to go green, that’s another consideration we are seeing more and more. And that’s what we are positioned to do. 

What I observe is that customers have a bunch of competing priorities, large organizations are running 180 projects in parallel - it’s not about spending more, there is nothing more to spend. It’s reprioritizing those and prioritizing those that have a 10X return or more. 

My take

Mathieu is right in his argument that buyers are faced with a number of competing priorities at the moment, which is being made worse by the noise in the market around AI. What buyers are looking for is authoritative guidance and proven routes to success from their technology partners. When times are tough, money talks - and projects that can release value into an organization quickly will be the priority. 

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