Signavio Sap Process Mining Celonis [shutterstock: 123948847, Barbol]
[shutterstock: 123948847, Barbol]
Blog Editor-in-Chief

SAP And Signavio: Not Everything That Glitters Is Gold

SAP has mined and found fool's gold as it is planning to acquire Signavio.

The German startup Signavio is working in the field of process mining, and SAP is expected to have to shell out roughly 1 billion euros for it. Experts suspect that SAP has mined in the wrong place. The world market leader in process mining is Celonis and not Signavio, but even their headquarters clearly show why SAP chose the latter.

While Celonis may reside in Munich, it also has locations all around the globe, from New York City to Tokyo. Signavio is based in Potsdam near Berlin, Germany. Some of you may have already guessed where I’m going with this: Signavio’s co-founder Gero Decker studied under Professor Hasso Plattner, chairman of SAP’s supervisory board, at the Hasso Plattner Institute, HPI, in Potsdam. He probably also knows SAP board member Juergen Mueller from the institute, as SAP’s CTO earned his doctorate at HPI, too. Furthermore, former SAP CEO Léo Apotheker is a member of Signavio’s supervisory board.

The apple never falls far from the tree

The logical choice for Business Process Mining Intelligence would of course have been Celonis. However, the company is currently very successful, so it is not for sale (yet). An exit strategy at the stock exchange in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, or New York City would probably be more lucrative for Celonis. As a young startup, Celonis received a lot of support from Hasso Plattner and SAP, but its success has made the company more autonomous, and several top managers from SAP now work at Celonis. Perhaps pure jealousy was the reason why SAP made Signavio and not Celonis its partner for the digital S/4 transformation. (Just kidding, of course.)

In all seriousness, it has become apparent in recent months and even years that SAP had to act, and it had to act soon. The fulfillment of its S/4 promises depends on sustainable and continuous business process reengineering. A purely technical release change from ERP/ECC 6.0 to S/4 Hana does not add any value for SAP’s existing customers. Only those who understand how to optimize business processes can also benefit from new S/4 functionalities. With process mining, Signavio and Celonis try to tackle that challenge. Only problem: With Signavio, SAP may have acquired a large chunk of fool’s gold.

As is often the case with SAP, the timing and location of the announcement were a disaster: The acquisition of Signavio was publicly announced at SAP’s virtual ‘RISE With SAP’ event. A few minutes later, CEO Christian Klein presented SAP’s existing customer Siemens as a shining example of digital innovation. Apparently, it has already been forgotten that Siemens once wanted to terminate its service contract with SAP and switch to Rimini Street for its support needs. Then executive SAP board member Gerd Oswald – who was a Siemens employee in his early career – prevented its departure. He hopped into SAP’s private jet and headed straight for Munich to negotiate a new service contract. This maneuver saved Siemens many millions in licensing fees. Now, Siemens is one of Celonis’ most important and prominent customers and has been successfully renovating its own SAP systems for many years with minimal input from the ERP company.

Comparing Celonis in Munich (and at Siemens!) and Signavio in Potsdam would have been enough to tell that not everything that glitters is gold.

Our Editor-in-Chief Peter M. Färbinger posted an update to this story.

About the author

Peter M. Färbinger, Editor-in-Chief

Peter M. Färbinger is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at E-3 Magazine, AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at


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  • Thank you for your comments, most of which I actually agree with. I am neither paid by Celonis nor by SAP. Yes, it is true that process mining can only be the first step. The diagnosis must be followed by ‘therapy’ including the right medicine. Yes, Signavio has more to offer than process mining, e.g. some low-code/no-code options. However, we at E-3 Magazine analyze what is happening from the perspective of an existing SAP customer. We can’t say for certain who is better, Celonis or Signavio. But what we can say is that Celonis was on SAP’s price list, which Eddy Schmidt correctly noted among many other points. Mendix with low-code/no-code functionality is also on the SAP price list. This inclusion in the SAP Price and Conditions List is a very important signal for SAP customers. They are guided by these specifications and make strategic decisions based on them. SAP is great, but sometimes very confusing! A few years ago, Celonis was the star in the process mining space with exclusive appearances at the SAP Research Center in Potsdam. Now, SAP has bought the startup Signavio. Makes one wonder: What solution might become the go-to process mining option on the SAP price list in a few years? I know life means change, but SAP projects take many years to complete, and existing customers need stability, trust, and planning security during this time. If SAP conjures up a new rabbit out of its magician’s hat every year, it might be a spectacle to behold (like Rise was), but it could also be counterproductive for the SAP community.

    Another example regarding the low-code/no-code topic: A few years ago, SAP cooperated with Mendix (a Siemens company), then SAP CTO Juergen Mueller presented the tool Ruum at TechEd 2020, and BPMguy correctly noted that Signavio also offers low-code/no-code functionality. So, what should the existing SAP customer look for? Which one should they choose – or, more to the point, which low-code/no-code tool will still be valid/on SAP’s price list in three years? I don’t know which of the three is better, but I do know that existing SAP customers finally need a binding roadmap and orientation – and not always new rabbits from SAP’s magician’s hat.

  • Signavio is not based in Potsdam and seems to have a global presence. As I understood the presentation Signavio does not do Process Mining only. Would be great if the article could be corrected at least among the facts…

  • Many things in the article are incorrect, starting with the office location: Signavio has no office in Potsdam and never had. The headquarter is in Berlin, other office locations are in Australia, Singapore, USA, England, Switzerland, Franze, Netherlands, Sweden, India and Japan.

    You also don’t understand that Signavio is not only offering Process Mining like Celonis, but a whole suite of Process Management software, where Process Mining is only one part of the puzzle.

  • Interesting perspective, yet I do have some fundamental problems with the article:
    1. From my perspective SAP was one of the main drivers that made Celonis what it is today.
    2. You‘re only mentioning Celonis global presence, yet Signavio is operating global as well.
    3. From what I can see, these two companies appear to be comparable regarding their customer basis. With the only difference that Celonis was able to benefit from the single fact of being on the SAP price list.
    4. There is absolutely no evidence in this article proving that Celonis has a superior technology nor that Signavio could be fools gold. From what I can see on both websites, SAP has been a customer of both vendors, SAP should be able to determine the technological differences best.

    This article perfectly shows the problem with modern journalism – solely relying on assumptions rather than facts.
    Or maybe you were paid to write this article for Celonis? (Just kidding, of course.)

    • great response to a an article which is misleading and seems to reflect the opinion of someone who is very much focusing on one side which eliminates the neutrality of a professional author. Well stated and I agree with all the points you mentioned at the same time it shows that staying grounded and not overrate oneself is finally paying off 😉

  • Mining may end up being the secret sauce behind the acquisition, but forms only a sub-set of Signavio’s offering which also provides collaborative process design, simulation of what-if scenarios, customer journey modeling and some low code-no code workflow capabilities. Not just the diagnosis, but also the medicine.

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