Is IT's conventional view of the connected enterprise too narrow? Software AG certainly seems to think so. As a prelude to its annual conXion conference, taking place virtually this week, the company today announces new updates to its webMethods integration product and ARIS process mining and analysis tools. The focus is on bringing together data and processes across a much broader spectrum than has historically been attempted. Sanjay Brahmawar, CEO, explains:
This challenge of their precious resource, which is data, in such silos, is a big problem. Organizations, if they want to be competitive, and if they want to deliver value to their customers, they have to find a way to create a seamless flow, a fluid flow, of that data across their systems, their people, their departments, their devices, and, of course, also their applications.
Stefan Sigg, Chief Product Officer, says that Software AG offers "a digital backbone." This provides a foundation for new applications and industry solutions that goes beyond traditional transaction data, to include process data and data coming from Internet of Things (IoT) sources. For many organizations, the processes that bring together all of these data sources are much broader than those supported by traditional enterprise applications. He remarks:
Order-to-cash is a great process. It makes total sense to optimize that. But then, is it really the core process of a production company or a logistics company? Probably not. So there, applying process mining is a new field that we are addressing.
Extending into production and supply chain
Although today's announcements are focused on the webMethods and ARIS product ranges, the role of Software AG's IoT platform, Cumulocity, is not far beneath the surface. As more and more products and assets become connected, the volume and breadth of data that enterprises have to handle is growing massively. Sigg explains:
Companies are equipping their products with sensors, and all of a sudden, they become smart products ... a Tesla is a computer, or a drilling machine could become a computer, a bike can become a computer. All these computers that formerly have been just isolated products, become connected data generators, and they produce data.
The scope of integration and process analysis therefore has to reach across these new data sources, extending into production and supply chain processes as well as connecting back to traditional enterprise applications. This brings new opportunities to identify improvements in operational processes. Sigg explains:
The main reason why this has not been done before is the data connectivity and the data pipelining that was so difficult. But that is coming to be much easier with the technology that we have. If you have transparency to your core operations, you want to find out where you can compete better — process mining is the magic.
ARIS and webMethods news
Both executives will expand on these and other themes during conXion, which opens tomorrow. You can register for the event and view sessions here and access all of diginomica's ongoing coverage in our dedicated event hub here. Here's a quick summary of today's product announcements:
- A new Root Cause Miner in ARIS that helps identify the sources of excessive cost or delays.
- Variant management, which allows for process variations, for example due to regional or cultural factors.
- AI-enabled automated translation for ARIS content.
- Automated conformance checking to monitor process execution against plan.
- The ability to export processes to ARIS Repository for repeat use.
- Expanded ARIS data connectivity including a new webMethods.io connector.
- A new webMethods DataHub connects data flowing through integrations directly into analytics tools such as Microsoft Power BI, Tableau and others.
- Managed file transfer (MFT) expands the reach of webMethods.io.
- A new webMethods developer portal allows organizations to create a branded API marketplace for developers.
- A new ecosystem program allows resellers and customers to partner with Software AG to build, test, certify and publish connectors to webMethods.io.
Other themes at the event include the democratization of data by extending self-service analytics to business users, and an emphasis on sustainability, whether that be using IoT connectivity to track carbon emissions or eliminating paper-based processes through integration and process analysis.
Brahmawar will also speak about enabling enterprises to operate across multiple hyperscale cloud platforms, from AWS to Alibaba, without being locked in to a specific platform. He believes this is important for many enterprises both to maintain data sovereignty and to ensure that they have access to the best capabilities from each provider. He says:
Cloud, of course, is becoming more and more like electricity. It's going to be an essential commodity, probably a very intelligent commodity. But, there is the necessity for organizations to have very thin independent layers that they can own, that they can use to be able to navigate a multi-cloud environment, to be able to choose the best of capabilities from different sources so that they don't have a lock-in.
Across all of these various themes, the big picture is the continuing need to accelerate digital transformation and operational excellence, as organizations build out a connected customer experience, an ecosystem of suppliers and partners, and enhance their digital business operations internally. Brahmawar sums up:
Digital transformation, it's basically become a do-or-die. I think the pandemic was a wake-up call, but digital transformation is not new. It's just that it has now become a true imperative for every business. The clock is pretty much ticking.
Software AG's own digital transformation — from a traditional licensed software provider to an XaaS business model — is nearing completion, and it is shaping a new narrative around its much-changed proposition. The emphasis on refining digital business processes all the way across an organization's operations is one that will resonate with many customers, who are currently struggling to make sense of the roadmaps offered by incumbent enterprise application vendors. Public cloud providers offer alternative solutions, but the risk of lock-in is real. Software AG is offering a 'middle way' that looks distinctive in the market.
For more diginomica coverage of Software AG's conXion 2021 virtual event, visit our conXion event hub. The event will be live from October 5-7th and sessions will be available afterwards to view on-demand until the end of the year. Click here to register for the event and view the sessions.