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Celonis, a leader in process mining tools, has announced the acquisition of Process Analytics Factory (PAF), a leader in process analytics for the Microsoft Power Automate and Power BI platforms. The PAF acquisition is valued at approximately $100 million in cash and stock. Celonis has more than 2,000 employees spread across 20 global offices and PAF has nearly 40 employees at offices in Germany and the United States.
PAF was founded in 2014 by Tobias Rother, a process mining pioneer. The company’s core product is PAFnow, built on Microsoft Power BI, embedded in Microsoft Power Platform and seamlessly integrated with Microsoft 365.
In 2008, Rother met Wil van der Aalst, a professor who developed the theoretical underpinning for process mining and now serves as Chief Scientist for Celonis. He cofounded ProcessGold, which robotic process automation (RPA) leader UiPath later acquired.
BI meets process mining
Marc Kerremans, vice president analyst at Gartner, told VentureBeat, “PAF has been the first vendor in the process mining market to combine [business intelligence] BI software and services with process mining technology.”
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PAFnow is embedded in Microsoft’s Power Platform and extends Microsoft Power BI with process mining capabilities. This allows Power BI users to enhance their current BI infrastructures with process mining. Because Power BI is a critical component of Microsoft Power Platform and Office 365, users can use other Microsoft components, such as SharePoint and Teams, Quick Insights for AI, Flow for workflow automation and RPA and MS Power Apps.
By acquiring PAF, Celonis not only acquires other process mining capabilities but also adds capabilities that give Celonis a direct and proven strong connection to the successful Power Platform and Office 365 suite of Microsoft.
This complements Celonis’s rich set of tooling for analyzing business processes implemented in SAP and other common enterprise applications. In addition, it extends Celonis’s ability to deliver process insights via Power BI, which is one of the most popular business intelligence platforms. This move could also extend Celonis reach into the hyperautomation market, which Gartner predicted to reach $596 billion in 2022.
Hyperautomation represents the combination of tools for capturing process data using process intelligence and then automating them using RPA, low-code and the automation capabilities built into enterprise software tools like SAP, Salesforce and Microsoft productivity tools.
This will also improve the alignment between process mining and BI tools.
“Teams working on process analysis and improvement planning will be able to use analytics tools with which they are already familiar,” said Maureen Fleming, vice president of intelligent process automation at IDC.
This can cost-effectively broaden the number of participants able to provide useful inputs. And there is the possibility of leveraging other critical data already managed in existing data sources attached to Power Automate into the improvement analysis.
Furthermore, it helps cement Celonis’s position against competition from analytics vendors. Fleming said that the acquisition takes away any unique advantage an analytics vendor could have by entering the process mining market.
Amardeep Modi, vice president at Everest Group, predicts this acquisition will nudge other process mining providers to develop partnerships and integrations with BI providers to extend their ecosystem and fuel growth. In addition, Microsoft is looking to develop its own process mining offering and this integration will mean giving clients the flexibility to choose process mining capabilities.
Modi also expects to see this driving more merger and acquisitions activities as part of the increasing trend of process mining becoming an integral part of bigger enterprise platforms. He predicts that other process mining providers that are embedded in BI platforms are likely to become good acquisition targets. Examples include Merhwerk for Qlik and Monkey Mining for PowerBI, which are both Major Contenders in Everest Group’s Process Mining PEAK Matrix.
Connecting process to automation
Celonis is the largest vendor of tools for process intelligence, which analyzes data from business systems to understand how common businesses run with an eye toward efficiency.
Process intelligence tools combine process mining techniques that analyze the back end of enterprise app data logs and various process capture techniques that monitor the front end of enterprise apps using machine vision. This latest acquisition will enhance Celonis’ ability to capture data from the front end via the Power Automate integrations built into PAF.
The PAFnow process mining product is completely integrated into Microsoft Power BI and Microsoft Office 365 to analyze, visualize and optimize almost any process built on Microsoft tools. Celonis has branded its platform an execution management system (EMS) due to its combination of process mining, analytics and low-code automation capabilities built from its Integromat acquisition.
Kerremans expects this will improve the ability to assess opportunities for process improvements on the Microsoft platform and monitor processes to deliver insights into future change requirements.
“If the existing PAFnow backend capabilities are extended by the powerful and scalable capabilities of the EMS engine of Celonis, it brings world-class process mining and execution management at the fingertips of the extensive Microsoft community,” Kerremans said.
Execution management everywhere
A careful read of Gartner’s take on the market for hyperautomation tools is that the bulk of revenues comes from enterprise software built on platforms from Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce. But the fastest growth comes from the upstarts focusing on RPA, process mining and new low-code tools. Celonis’ deeper integration into the enterprise platforms could help it take advantage of the largest market and opportunity for the fastest growth.
Gunther Ramaseder, senior vice-president of business apps and experiences at Celonis, told VentureBeat, “The acquisition of PAF is part of Celonis’ execution management everywhere strategy.”
This approach enables companies everywhere and in all industries to use process mining within the Celonis EMS to reveal and fix process inefficiencies. Celonis has been executing this strategy through partnerships, R&D and acquisitions. Together, Celonis and PAF will enable millions of Microsoft Power Platform users in their familiar environment to utilize Celonis’ EMS for process mining, automation and collaboration.
PAF claims to be the first vendor in the process mining market to embed process mining in BI software. The combined companies plan to work together to offer a seamless experience across the Microsoft Power Platform and the Celonis EMS. As a result of the acquisition, existing PAFnow customers will have the opportunity to access the process mining and execution management capabilities of Celonis software. “Celonis will make the PAFnow user interface available to its customers in the future, further reducing the learning curve for users,” Ramaseder said.
The Celonis Experience
Celonis is aligning these capabilities around what it calls the “Celonis Experience” to simplify the adoption of execution management across different enterprise software platforms, including systems and tools offered by ServiceNow, Salesforce and Microsoft.
Ramaseder said Celonis Experiences would start with Microsoft, debuting at Celonis World Tour 2022. Celonis customers will be able to integrate Celonis EMS with Microsoft Power BI reporting seamlessly, collaborate with Microsoft Teams and trigger flows in Microsoft Power Automate. This will combine the power of Celonis EMS with the ubiquity of the Microsoft Power Platform to democratize execution management across the enterprise.
“This is a great move to help customers expand their reach into various markets, including the Microsoft ecosystem,” R “Ray” Wang, principal analyst and founder at Constellation Research, told VentureBeat.
He believes that PAFNow achieves impressive results in delivering Process Mining to the Microsoft Power BI market, which is rapidly growing and has almost 6% of the global market share for data visualization. In addition, Power BI has a 13% market share in the BI market and is a big part of the Microsoft Azure ecosystem.
“We will see more consolidation in the market as this is a growing and hot space towards not only process mining but in the future more cognitive automation and intelligent orchestration,” said Wang.
Creating digital twins of the organization
In the near future, the combination of Celonis and Microsoft will connect process mining to low code/no-code application development on top of Microsoft Power Apps. This will enable enterprises to instrument business processes to better model and improve digital transformation initiatives.
“By continuously using process mining to monitor and capture the way of working, a low code application development environment can consume this knowledge, reverse engineer the outcome and create and continuously adapt applications that reflect the actual organization,” Kerremans said.
In this way, the paradigm that organizations must adapt to applications is reversed into applications that adapt to the organization, enabling a new kind of living application.
“This mechanism is the next step [in] creating a digital representation of the organization, referred to by Gartner as a Digital Twin of an Organization (DTO),” Kerremans said.
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