E-3 had a another chance to talk to Celonis Co-Founder and Co-CEO Bastian Nominacher about Sapphire Now, innovations and what’s on the table for Celonis in the future.
E-3: Celonis has won back to back Hana-Innovation Awards at Sapphire Now in 2015 and 2016. What have you been up to since?
Bastian Nominacher: Our Celonis process mining technology has matured well over time and is providing a powerful platform for process analysis, both for enterprises and medium-sized companies alike. Our focus now is shifting towards technological innovation, making process mining smarter.
Our newest development is Celonis Pi, an expansion of our initial solution based on AI. Our teams in the offices in New York, Munich and Den Bosch (NL) are continuously working – often in conjunction with local universities – on new functionality and innovations, particularly in the fields of machine learning and AI.
Celonis is part of SAP’s Startup Focus Program. As you move from newcomer to Fortune-500 solution provider, how has SAP’s support changed?
Nominacher: We have indeed been a member of the Startup Focus Program for a long time and have grown considerably as a company. Working with SAP was crucial to continue developing our process mining technology as well as acquiring new customers – and it still is!
The partnership with SAP has allowed us to expand sales and customer service to perfectly match the requirements and needs of SAP customers. As our customer base is growing, so is the cooperation with SAP: We have even become an SAP platinum partner by now.
Together with SAP we can get our solution out to companies worldwide and to all different kinds of industries. You can also see this in our ongoing global cooperations with analysts as well as our steady presence at events at SAP conventions like Sapphire Now.
Many companies are still gaining their analytical insights from classic BI solutions. What’s different with Celonis Pi?
Nominacher: There are basically three key differences between process mining and classical BI: the underlying data, goals of the analysis and lastly, the visualization of the results. BI users gain insights on selected aspects of their data via analytical results based on aggregated KPIs.
Obviously, if you can narrow down what you are looking for as much as possible, your result will be more precise, particularly when the answer you are looking for is buried in a large quantity of data.
Process mining takes a different approach: insights are gained from the process level of operation, visualizing the already included, implicit knowledge of processes in a company’s data.
In short: process mining uses sets of data that carry information about individual process steps – timestamps, activities and case keys are already enough.
Most importantly, the analysis is explorative and not tied to a specific question. Celonis Pi does not only analyze the data in real-time but also provides forecasts – pointing out sources of problems as well as the corresponding solutions simultaneously.
SolMan 7.2 is the established solution for documenting business processes. Is there a way to connect the results from Celonis with SolMan?
Nominacher: SolMan 7.2 is putting a heavy focus on project- and solution documentation. Every single process step is put into a process library.
That is exactly why SolMan and Celonis go together well, even more so since the new process editor lets users create BPMN-ready process models – target processes so to speak.
There subsequently are two possible ways of integration: On the one hand, our users can update their documentation based on the current process status that has been identified via process mining. Celonis then reconstructs the current process status and users can create a BPMN-model export that can be put into SolMan.
On the other hand, users can also use our Conformance Checker to cross-check the target processes documented in SolMan with the current process status. In order to do that, the target process is imported into Celonis from SolMan.
A direct comparison can then reveal if and how the current process in the company deviates from the target process.
Now that Sapphire Now is behind us, what are your plans for 2017 and beyond?
Nominacher: Sapphire Now for us is a forum that gives us an opportunity to show what is possible with Celonis.
It was very important for us to demonstrate our solution using customer experiences from Akzo Nobel or Vodafone to achieve that. With Celonis, it’s all about optimizing processes and increasing efficiency in a company.
Compared to last year, we have made significant steps towards AI and have updated our solution with machine-learning capabilities, resulting into our smart expansion Celonis Pi.
Our focus for Sapphire Now has been to introduce these new features to the public and provide users with a live experience on what’s possible with machine learning in process mining.
I am convinced that AI is our future if we want to get the best possible return from process mining. Celonis’ future aim thus is to provide exactly that return through steady updates and innovations to our process mining technology.