Apr
15
2021
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IBM acquires Italy’s myInvenio to integrate process mining directly into its suite of automation tools

Automation has become a big theme in enterprise IT, with organizations using RPA, no-code and low-code tools, and other technology to speed up work and bring more insights and analytics into how they do things every day, and today IBM is announcing an acquisition as it hopes to take on a bigger role in providing those automation services. The IT giant has acquired myInvenio, an Italian startup that builds and operates process mining software.

Process mining is the part of the automation stack that tracks data produced by a company’s software, as well as how the software works, in order to provide guidance on what a company could and should do to improve it. In the case of myInvenio, the company’s approach involves making a “digital twin” of an organization to help track and optimize processes. IBM is interested in how myInvenio’s tools are able to monitor data in areas like sales, procurement, production and accounting to help organizations identify what might be better served with more automation, which it can in turn run using RPA or other tools as needed.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. It is not clear if myInvenio had any outside investors (we’ve asked and are awaiting a response). This is the second acquisition IBM has made out of Italy. (The first was in 2014, a company called CrossIdeas that now forms part of the company’s security business.)

IBM and myInvenio are not exactly strangers: The two inked a deal as recently as November 2020 to integrate the Italian startup’s technology into IBM’s bigger automation services business globally.

Dinesh Nirmal, GM of IBM Automation, said in an interview that the reason IBM acquired the company was two-fold. First, it lets IBM integrate the technology more closely into the company’s Cloud Pak for Business Automation, which sits on and is powered by Red Hat OpenShift and has other automation capabilities already embedded within it, specifically robotic process automation (RPA), document processing, workflows and decisions.

Second and perhaps more importantly, it will mean that IBM will not have to tussle for priority for its customers in competition with other solution partners that myInvenio already had. IBM will be the sole provider.

“Partnerships are great but in a partnership you also have the option to partner with others, and when it comes to priority, who decides?” he said. “From the customer perspective, will they work just on our deal, or others first? Now, our customers will get the end result of this… We can bring a single solution to an end user or an enterprise, saying, ‘look you have document processing, RPA, workflow, mining.’ That is the beauty of this and what customers will see.”

He said that IBM currently serves with its automation products customers across a range of verticals, including financial, insurance, healthcare and manufacturing.

Notably, this is not the first acquisition that IBM has made to build out this stack. Last year, it acquired WDG to expand into robotic process automation.

And interestingly, it’s not even the only partnership that IBM has had in process mining. Just earlier this month, it announced a deal with one of the bigger names in the field, Celonis, a German startup valued at $2.5 billion in 2019.

Ironically, at the time, my colleague Ron wondered aloud why IBM wasn’t just buying Celonis outright in that deal. It’s hard to speculate if price was one reason. Remember: We don’t know the terms of this acquisition, but given myInvenio was off the fundraising radar, chances are it’s possibly a little less than Celonis’s price tag.

We’ve asked and IBM has confirmed that it will continue to work with Celonis alongside now offering its own native process mining tools.

“In keeping with IBM’s open approach and $1 billion investment in ecosystem, [Global Business Services, IBM’s enterprise services division] works with a broad range of technologies based on client and market demand, including IBM AI and Automation software,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Celonis focuses on execution management which supports GBS’ transformation of clients’ business processes through intelligent workflows across industries and domains. Specifically, Celonis has deep connectivity into enterprise systems such as Salesforce, SAP, Workday or ServiceNow, so the Celonis EMS platform helps GBS accelerate clients’ transformations and BPO engagements with these ERP platforms.”

Indeed, at the end of the day, companies that offer services, especially suites of services, are working in environments where they have to be open to customers using their own technology, or bringing in something else.

There may have been another force pushing IBM to bring more of this technology in-house, and that’s wider competitive climate. Earlier this year, SAP acquired another European startup in the process mining space, Signavio, in a deal reportedly worth about $1.2 billion. As more of these companies get snapped up by would-be IBM rivals, and those left standing are working with a plethora of other parties, maybe it was high time for IBM to make sure it had its own horse in the race.

“Through IBM’s planned acquisition of myInvenio, we are revolutionizing the way companies manage their process operations,” said Massimiliano Delsante, CEO, myInvenio, who will be staying on with the deal. “myInvenio’s unique capability to automatically analyze processes and create simulations — what we call a ‘Digital Twin of an Organization’ — is joining with IBM’s AI-powered automation capabilities to better manage process execution. Together we will offer a comprehensive solution for digital process transformation and automation to help enterprises continuously transform insights into action.”

Mar
31
2021
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Celonis announces significant partnership with IBM to sell its process mining software

Before you can improve a workflow, you have to understand how work advances through a business, which is more complex than you might imagine inside a large enterprise. That’s where Celonis comes in. It uses software to identify how work moves through an organization and suggests more efficient ways of getting the same work done, also known as process mining.

Today, the company announced a significant partnership with IBM where IBM Global Services will train 10,000 consultants worldwide on Celonis. The deal gives Celonis, a company with around 1,200 employees, access to the massive selling and consulting unit, while IBM gets a deep understanding of a piece of technology that is at the front end of the workflow automation trend.

Miguel Milano, chief revenue officer at Celonis, says that digitizing processes has been a trend for several years. It has sped up due to COVID, and it’s partly why the two companies have decided to work together. “Intelligent workflows, or more broadly spoken workflows built to help companies execute better, are at the heart of this partnership and it’s at the heart of this trend now in the market,” Milano said.

The other part of this is that IBM now owns Red Hat, which it acquired in 2018 for $34 billion. The two companies believe that by combining the Celonis technology, which is cloud based, with Red Hat, which can span the hybrid world of on premises and cloud, the two together can provide a much more powerful solution to follow work wherever it happens.

“I do think that moving the [Celonis] software into the Red Hat OpenShift environment is hugely powerful because it does allow in what’s already a very powerful open solution to now operate across this hybrid cloud world, leveraging the power of OpenShift which can straddle the worlds of mainframe, private cloud and public cloud. And data straddle those worlds, and will continue to straddle those worlds,” Mark Foster, senior vice president at IBM Services explained.

You might think that IBM, which acquired robotic process automation vendor WDG Automation last summer, would simply attempt to buy Celonis, but Foster says the partnership is consistent with the company’s attempt to partner with a broader ecosystem.

“I think that this is very much part of an overarching focus of IBM with key ecosystem partners. Some of them are going to be bigger, some of them are going to be smaller, and […] I think this is one where we see the opportunity to connect with an organization that’s taking a leading position in its category, and the opportunity for that to take advantage of the IBM Red Hat technologies…” he said.

The companies had already been working together for some time prior to this formal announcement, and this partnership is the culmination of that. As this firmer commitment to one another goes into effect, the two companies will be working more closely to train thousands of IBM consultants on the technology, while moving the Celonis solution into Red Hat OpenShift in the coming months.

It’s clearly a big deal with the feel of an acquisition, but Milano says that this is about executing his company’s strategy to work with more systems integrators (SIs), and while IBM is a significant partner, it’s not the only one.

“We are becoming an SI consulting-driven organization. So we put consulting companies like IBM at the forefront of our strategy, and this [deal] is a big cornerstone of our strategy,” he said.

Dec
09
2020
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Microsoft brings new process mining features to Power Automate

Power Automate is Microsoft’s platform for streamlining repetitive workflows — you may remember it under its original name: Microsoft Flow. The market for these robotic process automation (RPA) tools is hot right now, so it’s no surprise that Microsoft, too, is doubling down on its platform. Only a few months ago, the team launched Power Automate Desktop, based on its acquisition of Softomotive, which helps users automate workflows in legacy desktop-based applications, for example. After a short time in preview, Power Automate Desktop is now generally available.

The real news today, though, is that the team is also launching a new tool, the Process Advisor, which is now in preview as part of the Power Automate platform. This new process mining tool provides users with a new collaborative environment where developers and business users can work together to create new automations.

The idea here is that business users are the ones who know exactly how a certain process works. With Process Advisor, they can now submit recordings of how they process a refund, for example, and then submit that to the developers, who are typically not experts in how these processes usually work.

What’s maybe just as important is that a system like this can identify bottlenecks in existing processes where automation can help speed up existing workflows.

Image Credits: Microsoft

“This goes back to one of the things that we always talk about for Power Platform, which, it’s a corny thing, but it’s that development is a team sport,” Charles Lamanna, Microsoft’s corporate VP for its Low Code Application Platform, told me. “That’s one of our big focuses: how to bring people to collaborate and work together who normally don’t. This is great because it actually brings together the business users who live the process each and every day with a specialist who can build the robot and do the automation.”

The way this works in the backend is that Power Automate’s tools capture exactly what the users do and click on. All this information is then uploaded to the cloud and — with just five or six recordings — Power Automate’s systems can map how the process works. For more complex workflows, or those that have a lot of branches for different edge cases, you likely want more recordings to build out these processes, though.

Image Credits: Microsoft

As Lamanna noted, building out these workflows and process maps can also help businesses better understand the ROI of these automations. “This kind of map is great to go build an automation on top of it, but it’s also great because it helps you capture the ROI of each automation you do because you’ll know for each step how long it took you,” Lamanna said. “We think that this concept of Process Advisor is probably going to be one of the most important engines of adoption for all these low-code/no-code technologies that are coming out. Basically, it can help guide you to where it’s worth spending the energy, where it’s worth training people, where it’s worth building an app, or using AI, or building a robot with our RPA like Power Automate.”

Lamanna likened this to the advent of digital advertising, which for the first time helped marketers quantify the ROI of advertising.

The new process mining capabilities in Power Automate are now available in preview.

Apr
28
2020
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Celonis pushes beyond process mining into automated workflow tooling

Celonis has made its name as a process discovery company, helping companies understand the way work flows through its systems to expose inefficiencies, but up until now the company has left it to others to solve those problems. Today it announced the first products that help companies improve those workflows automatically.

Alexander Rinke, founder and CEO at Celonis, says customers have been asking the company to go beyond process discovery to something that really helps solve the problems and bottlenecks they were finding.

“Where customers were really pushing us is to take the company from a software that’s showing you all the insights around your business processes, where the friction points are, where things aren’t going as they should be going…” he told TechCrunch.

To that end, the company acquired Banyas last year to give it a way to connect to internal ERP systems more easily, as they were thinking about how to create some process improvement automation apps. The Banyas acquisition gave the company some tools to start thinking about this more deeply.

“We put all of this together — the intelligence, the action, the automation and we solve business goals for certain departments,” Rinke said.

For starters, that involves supply chain and finance, but there are plans for building even more applications this year and beyond. The way it works for starters, is it connects to the company’s transactions systems, whether that’s SAP or Oracle or something similar. This is where the Banyas acquisition really comes into play,

“You can basically put these applications on top of your transaction systems and tell them which business goals you have — like I want to preserve cash or I want to pay on time — and then we analyze the enterprise’s entire processes towards these business goals, and then drive everything, automate things towards these business goals intelligently,” he said.

In addition to the two apps, the company is also announcing that it’s making the platform that the engineering team used to build these apps more broadly available to allow third parties to build their own apps on top of Celonis, and then they will be able to share them in an app marketplace.

If you’re thinking this is moving Celonis into Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Rinke disagrees As he sees it, RPA is about automating all-computer processes. He says the Celonis solutions often have human stopping points in a process, and he sees that as a big difference.

Celonis was founded in 2011 and has raised more than $367 million, according to Crunchbase data. Rinke reports the company has more than 1000 employees now.

Apr
05
2019
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New Celonis tool moves process mining vendor into customer experience

Celonis created the idea of process mining, the act of automating the understanding and improvement of internal processes. But understanding the process in and of itself only gets you so far. Ultimately, companies need to use that information to improve the customer experience, and a new operational layer announced today could help them do that.

When we think about managing the customer experience, we tend to look at the consumer-facing app or the website. If that isn’t working right, or there is unnecessary friction in the buying process, then you can lose the customer.

But Celonis co-CEO and co-founder Alexander Rinke says that eliminating friction at the front end of the process is only part of the equation. If there is a problem anywhere in the delivery system, from the manufacturer or warehouse to back-end systems, then that kind of friction can be just as problematic, he says.

“Where process mining really helps is it reveals where there’s friction. The biggest challenge companies face is that there’s a ton of operational friction. Things get stuck. Things get delivered late. Customer promises get broken,” he said.

Part of what makes Amazon work so well isn’t just that customers can easily place orders on a website or app, but also that Amazon has figured out how to pick the order and get it to the customer in the promised amount of time. If there were any delays in that process, people wouldn’t gravitate toward Amazon as much as they do.

But most companies don’t have the operational excellence of Amazon, and that’s where Celonis thinks it can help — by identifying the bumps in the operational road and finding ways to smooth those out in an automated fashion. “Initially, we sold a product for discovery, laying the land, understanding what’s going on in complex companies. And now we see more and more companies moving into operationalizing these insights, so acting on them, fixing things that are broken, and wanting to automate these fixes,” Rinke explained.

The company’s answer to this is the beta of Workflow Engine, a tool that is designed to help companies improve that operational flow. As it describes it, “The no-code, point-and-click workflow allows business analysts to arrange process steps and connect process flows across systems.” It includes templates out of the box for common tools like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com, ServiceNow, Jira, etc.

He says as an example, a company may have switched to electronic payments, but it’s finding customers aren’t moving with them. They can use the tool to identify those customers and offer a discount on their next order if they pay electronically without bothering the folks who are already doing it.

The company also announced a new tool to help connect easily to SAP systems. As Rinke points out, there are hundreds of these systems running the back end (finance, inventory, HR, etc.) at companies all over the world. It’s not always easy to connect to them because of their age and complexity.

To that end, the company revealed it has bought Banyas, a tool designed to help automate workflow from SAP systems, and one that should fit in nicely with the company’s vision to automate and understand process flows across large organizations.

Celonis was founded in 2011. Today it has more than 700 employees, and has raised almost $78 million.

Jun
07
2016
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Celonis takes $27.5M led by Accel, 83North to grow the market for big data process mining

Celonis founders How do big businesses optimize IT-driven processes? Often by hiring management consultants to cast an expert eye over digital traceries and deliver recommendations for improving core operations like logistics and production. But Munich-based B2B SaaS startup Celonis reckons software can do a better job of flagging up areas where there’s room for business optimization. Its… Read More

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