The co-CEO at German process mining biz Celonis has talked up its leap into the world of automation by rolling out its own platform, as well as splashing the cash - reportedly a hair over $100m - on automation and integration outfit Integromat.
Process mining, for the uninitiated, is the idea that organisations which rely on humans cutting and pasting data from one application to another for integration can have stab at understanding what's really going on.
Pulling together data from user interactions with enterprise applications, and a bit of analysis, is supposed to reveal the "true" nature of business processes, as opposed to how they were designed or how management thinks they are used - so its proponents say.
Celonis, which counts Bosch and Siemens among its customers, launched an Execution Management System to sit on top of its process mining tools, in the hope that organisations can use it to fix processes, not just find out where they are broken.
It includes tools to help identify so called "execution gaps" (the lag between performance and an ideal scenario) specifically aimed at orgs' finance departments. The tools suggest immediate ways to improve accounts payable and receivable, informed by real time performance data.
"Execution Management System is able to identify ... [not just] what is the capacity and loss in these complex systems, but actually give capacity back to the business," Alexander Rinke, co-founder and co-CEO told The Register. "It helps you figure out what actions you can take and where you can automate processes."
At the same time, Celonis hopes customers will move to automate with its newly acquired tools from Integromat, which are designed to insert automation processes directly into applications via API, rather than by the screen scrapping, UI-driven approach of RPA.
"We're definitely moving into the automation space. But the idea is you will not need an RPA tool, or won't need it as often," Rinke said.
The Celonis chief said he believed RPA tools often failed to scale, or can come with changes to application interfaces, and as such, while being easy to set up, could be quite unreliable. Of course he would say that.
Newly acquired Integromat's approach, which is to be integrated with that of Celonis, is to use its point-and-click tools to create integration and automation between applications via OAuth 2 authorization and a JSON-parsing app. It has pre-built connectors for more than 500 applications, Rinke said.
In November 2019, Celonis raised $290m in VC funding, valuing the firm at $2.5bn. Since then, it has been on a recruitment round which included securing former Salesforce staffers Miguel Milano and Arsenio Otero as chief revenue officer and chief operating officer respectively.
Neil Ward-Dutton, IDC veep for AI and automation practices, said the new product launch, together with the Integromat acquisition was "really interesting and powerful for a lot of customers," but said the approach was 'not without its risks."
"This is already quite a populated space. You have everything from RPA, workflow and application integration, including vendors such as Boomi, SnapLogic, Informatica and Tibco. Meanwhile, RPA firm UiPath has its own process mining tools," he said.
"They are all working really hard to act as conductors of the new automation world. Celonis has jumped into this big battle over who can be seen as the conductor of automation," he said.
Celonis might have its work cut out convincing its customers, many of which are large corporations, to take its automations tools seriously. "Big companies typically have no shortage of integration and automation tools already," Ward-Dutton said. ®