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Staying relevant in process mining: Celonis' challenge

The vendor recently announced a $1 billion funding extension. But despite its popularity for process mining, Celonis faces competition from more vendors entering the market.

After securing $1 billion in series D extension funding recently, process mining vendor Celonis is aiming to expand product development and marketing.

In August, the Munich-based vendor revealed that part of the $1 billion includes $400 million in equity funding, placing its valuation at nearly $13 billion. It also secured an expanded $600 credit facility, a type of loan that will enable the vendor to borrow money on an ongoing basis over an extended period.

Celonis could play a big role in growing the process mining market. The 2011 startup is one of the more prominent names in the arena of process mining technology, which enterprises use for analyzing and reengineering business processes.

The vendor's AI-based technology is known for combining process mining with automation, and not only identifying inefficiencies within a process, but also using automation to fix them. The vendor focuses on financial and supply chain processes.

And although robotic process automation vendors such as UiPath, Pegasystems and Automation Anywhere have begun to offer process mining capabilities, Celonis continues to stake out a highly visible position.

As [Celonis is] the market leader, investors are betting on them continuing to be successful in the market, outperforming any of the competitors.
Maureen FlemingAnalyst, IDC

"As [Celonis is] the market leader, investors are betting on them continuing to be successful in the market, outperforming any of the competitors," said Maureen Fleming, analyst at IDC.

Celonis is planning to use the new funding to expand its customer base and target business users.

The vendor plans to "take process mining and really democratize it for everyone in an enterprise," said Sam Attias, director of product marketing at Celonis.

Bayer and Celonis

Enterprises such as Bayer, the Germany-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology giant, have shown faith in Celonis.

While Bayer was one of the early customers of Celonis, the pharmaceutical company only recently started using process mining technology when it began its digital transformation, said Timo Peters, center of expertise lead for process mining at Bayer.

"[With process mining], you're using the power of machine learning to understand what you need to touch and what you need to change for your digital process," Peters said.

This can take a while for enterprises to understand, he said, adding that a key data management challenge he has faced is overcoming internal roadblocks such as departmental approval processes for cybersecurity or system load tests.

"You need to convince a tool owner to get access to data. There are a lot of processes behind it," Peters said.

For Bayer, Celonis is a vendor focused most on helping the pharmaceutical company yield a good return on investment with its process mining technology, he said.

"It is the right focus on how to make your customer happy, because if I'm buying the licenses and the product of Celonis, I ultimately need to deliver a return on investment," Peters said.

From his vantage point, Peters said Celonis' growth is a good thing because as a customer, the extra funding help means the vendor can provide Bayer with better support.

The challenge of competition

However, despite having a solid enterprise customer base and committed investors, Celonis still faces its own challenges -- most notably, a growing field of rivals.

While Celonis currently continues to offer process mining capabilities and advance them, enterprises might prefer other vendors that offer a broader portfolio of applications, IDC's Fleming noted.

"Companies that are invested strategically in one application vendor or another may use those capabilities to improve what they're doing," she said.

One example of this is the SAP Signavio Process Intelligence system that enables enterprises to build a digital twin of a business process.

Celonis could continue to be successful in the market by diversifying and going after new processes, said R "Ray" Wang, founder of Constellation Research.

"Right now, what they're really good at is 'what's happening with my orders,' 'what's happening with procurement,' 'what's happening with my inventory,'" Wang said. "Over time, people are going to start jumping to things like 'what's better for customer experiences' and 'what's great for my HR processes.'"

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