Microsoft acquires process mining vendor Minit to grow its automation offerings

Signaling its ambitions in the process automation market, Microsoft has acquired Minit, a Bratislava, Slovakia-originated process mining technology vendor, for an undisclosed sum, the companies announced today. Microsoft says that the purchase will “further empower” it to “help … customers digitally transform” by creating a more complete picture of their processes — and identifying which of those processes are ripe for automation.

“Minit currently enables businesses to transform the way they analyze, monitor and optimize their processes. Minit’s solutions have helped businesses gain deep insights into how processes run, uncover root causes of operational challenges and help mitigate undesired process outcomes,” Justin Graham, Microsoft’s general manager of process insights, wrote in a post on Microsoft’s corporate blog. “[With Minit, our] customers will be able to better understand their process data, uncover what operations look like in reality, and drive process standardization and improvement across the entire organization to ensure compliance at every step.”

Microsoft dipped its toes into process mining with the launch of new features in Power Automate in 2019 and the acquisition of Softomotive, an RPA software provider, a year later. But with Minit, the tech giant is doubling down on a software category that could be worth over $11 billion by 2030, according to a report from Polaris Market Research.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the whole of the Minit team will join Microsoft — or, indeed, whether the company will remain spread across its current locations. (Minit is now headquartered in Amsterdam, with satellite offices in London and New York.) But CEO James Dening said that customers shouldn’t expect a change in the level of support they’re currently receiving.

“We are looking forward to what it means to become part of an industry leader like Microsoft and what that brings us — how we can use that scale and excellence to continue to deliver great solutions to our customers,” Dening wrote in a blog post on Minit’s website. “It has been a privilege to lead the company for the last year, and I’m excited to continue my journey with the team, as part of what I consider to be the world’s leading software company.”

In a statement, a Microsoft spokesperson told TechCrunch that the Minit team will move into the Microsoft Process Insights team and that there will be “no change” to the current work location of Minit team members. Microsoft is in early stages of determining how Minit will be integrated into its offerings, she said, and the companies will share more details when they’re available.

Minit, which was founded in 2015 by Rasto Hlavac and had raised €10.3 million (~$11.40 million) prior to the acquisition, is one of an expanding number of startups developing process mining tools aimed at enterprise clientele. Process mining, also known as task discovery, involves spotting root cause workflow issues and bottlenecks by pulling data from systems including desktop, email apps and workflows. It’s a key part of robotic process automation (RPA), a technology that promises to automate monotonous, repetitive tasks traditionally performed by human workers while at the same time generating logs to identify potential cost savings.

As Protocol’s Aisha Counts notes, process mining has traditionally been done by system integrators who map out processes by analyzing manual workflows. Process mining software is designed to digitize the approach in a way that reduces the expense, time and effort involved.

Underlining the appetite for process mining technologies, Celonis, a data processing company, earlier this week acquired Minit competitor Process Analytics Factory, which coincidentally integrates with Microsoft’s Power BI analytics platform. Just in the past several years, RPA vendor Automation Anywhere acquired process discovery and mining startups FortressIQ, Process Gold\ and StepShot; Blue Prism released a task mining solution called Capture; and rivals including ABBYY and Kryon have expanded their process mining offerings.

“You know the process space is hot when even Microsoft, with its vast resources, has to buy its way in. I’m sure Microsoft is seeing the same trends that we saw, which drove the combination of FortressIQ and Automation Anywhere,” Pankaj Chowdhry, EVP of discovery at Automation Anywhere and formerly CEO of FortressIQ, told TechCrunch via email. “Customers are starved for process data to help them navigate their transformation journeys and any vendor that doesn’t have best-in-class process capabilities will find itself challenged to offer a compelling solution to their customers.”

Microsoft’s Minit acquisition comes at a time when the broader business process automation industry, which remains flush with cash, heads toward general consolidation. SAP acquired German process automation company Signavio in January 2021, just before ServiceNow got into the RPA segment with the buyout of India-based IBM acquired process mining software company MyInvenio in April. And Salesforce’s MuleSoft and Microsoft followed suit with the purchases of automation tech providers Servicetrace and Clear Software, respectively.

“Process mining, discovery and task mining has seen a lot of transformation with many acquisitions in the last year. [It] now appears to be maturing as a market and becoming commoditized under major automation platforms,” Saikat Ray, Gartner senior research director, told TechCrunch via email. “Gartner sees an emergence of automation platform vendors offering process mining and task mining as embedded capabilities, along with RPA.”

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET, March 31, with quotes from Microsoft and Automation Anywhere.