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Nokia transforms business processes with Celonis

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez July 25, 2022
Multinational communications company Nokia has also created a Center of Excellence for Celonis’ Execution Management System, which works with the business to scale the platform.

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(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay )

Communications provider Nokia is transforming its global business processes through the use of Celonis’ Execution Management System (EMS), which is now central to its digital strategy. 

The multi-billion dollar Finnish company, which was established in 1865 and operates in more than 100 countries around the world, has also established a Celonis Center of Excellence, which is working with business colleagues across the organization to identify process inefficiencies, reduce manual interventions and scale the platform internally. 

Celonis uses process mining technology, via its EMS, to help customers analyze data from their underlying systems and visualize processes and inefficiencies. It then provides tooling to use these insights to apply fixes and automate these across multiple processes. 

We spoke with Timo Peters, Business Process Consultant at Nokia, about the company’s deployment of Celonis, which began with a pilot program in November 2020 covering processes for Order to Invoice, Source to Pay and Accounts Payable. Commenting on Nokia’s ambitions, Peters said: 

The story all started when we were looking at how we can start our digital journey - how we could transform Nokia and Nokia’s processes. We were looking at what could potentially help us, where we really wanted to look end-to-end and become more data driven. 

Process mining came into our awareness and so we decided to look into it and its capabilities. At that time we came across Celonis, which was very appealing, because if you want to digitize you need to look at processes and how to take out manual tasks. 

Prior to selecting Celonis, Nokia went through a validation process of multiple vendors comparing them on their respective capabilities. Peters also underwent a peer discussion and assessed the various players on areas such as data onboarding, cybersecurity, capturing manual tasks, and innovation. Peters said: 

The result was very clear that it could only be Celonis, to be honest. We saw there was a huge difference in capability between Celonis and the other suppliers. We had a total score of five - Celonis got 4.8 or 4.9 and the next best supplier got 3.8, more than one point below. 

As a result, Nokia decided to embark on a proof of concept (PoC) with Celonis to look at the technical capabilities and to understand what value could be derived. After the PoC, Nokia then undertook a small contract with the vendor, building a pilot in order to cash - which involved one process and ten users. 

However, it quickly scaled up. Peters said: 

We quickly understood that we were creating a large amount of value, that we needed to go bigger, and so we signed an enterprise agreement. 

Since then we have also introduced a Center of Excellence, which is scaling quite heavily. 

Since rolling out the EMS in these areas, Peters said that Nokia has seen significant benefits. From a process point of view, the largest use cases at present are still in order to cash and source to pay, where the immediate benefits included generating a significant amount of transparency, with Nokia was able to deeply understand what is really happening in its processes. Peters said: 

This is not what people think, not what people have documented somewhere, it’s the reality. The reality is very different. 

However, the projects have now moved beyond just transparency benefits too. Peters added: 

The second step is spotting areas where improvements are possible, where there could be multiple opportunities. Then it's very important to drive the actions. 

Using the capabilities of EMS you can trigger these types of events, building up a workflow. That is the key to deriving value. Creating transparency is good, but if you’re not using it to trigger activities that solve the problems, then you can’t create value. 

End users get more active in interacting with the system too, as they get alerts about certain kinds of situations, and they can act according to the problems. So it’s an augmentation of the process. 

There’s lots of things that people were doing in a more manual fashion, using Excel and taking weeks to prepare reports - now they have a permanent feed of information with automated alerts. 

It’s helping the experience and the performance of the work, how they can smoothen the process. It also means that it’s impacting the customer, because if you do your work more efficiently, that has an end impact on the customer. It means we can shift the workforce towards more value added activities, rather than back-office activities. 

Center of Excellence

As noted above, Nokia has also since created a Center of Excellence (CoE) to help scale Celonis across the organization, working to transform multiple business processes. Peters has been identified as one of Celonis’ leading global players in how best to establish, run and expand a CoE since he began the project and has also been working with other Celonis customers to knowledge share best practices. 

Celonis recently published a report that outlines a framework for building effective CoEs, where it highlighted the importance of human factors in their success

Currently Nokia has between four and eight employees working within its CoE, but it has plans to build this up to more than 20 people very soon. It has two main roles within the CoE - business value leads, which are responsible for driving cases end-to-end and ensuring the CoE is capituring demand; and data analysts, which are responsible for building connections, data models, dashboards and automation. Peters said: 

The link between the data analyst and the business value lead is quite close, as they’re both looking at opportunities. 

However, Nokia is also aware of the need for effective change management throughout this journey. Peters said: 

Then we also have a dedicated change manager, because it’s not only a tool implementation, it’s a change for the person and their ways of working. 

It’s very important because if you don’t manage this well, the best technology is not going to help you. A business counterpart is also very important, so we aren’t working alone. They’re the people operating the process, they’re the subject matter experts, the process owners, they’re always part of the game. 

Everybody says they’re doing change management, but often they’re not. A good sign is having two dedicated resources doing change management, giving it the attention level it should be given. We also try to build this into a workflow so that it’s permanently happening. 

Nokia is still in the early stages of delivering on the opportunity of Celonis and reimagining its processes, but it has already learnt a lot of the past two years. In terms of advice, Peters said: 

Every company is different, with different challenges. But you need to understand what is going to work, where you clearly have a problem, and you need to find a way to do that without over-engineering it. Come up with a short proposal, how you want to do that, how you want to handle it, and just try it out, try to solve it. 

If it is going to work, try to make it more stable. But if it’s not, then change it. It’s very key to work in this agile way. It may sound like high level advice, but it’s the most important learning. 

Our vision is that we want to deliver more value to our internal customers. We need to scale, we need to stabilize operations, we need to expand from data models so that we can look at end-to-end processes and across boundaries. In the future we could look to ecosystem mining, involving our partners and see the complete chain and improve it. 

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