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.