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Signavio aims to transform SAP software development model

In this Q&A, Signavio CEO Gero Decker discusses the process mining software vendor's role in Rise with SAP and its criticality to business transformation.

When it launched Rise with SAP in January, SAP also announced its acquisition of Signavio, a small software company based in Berlin.

Signavio is a pioneer of process mining software, which is used to conduct audits of business processes to uncover inefficiencies. Its cloud technology is seen as a critical component of Rise with SAP's business transformation model, which aims to help SAP customers move from legacy on-premises ERP systems to modern cloud-based infrastructures centered on S/4HANA.

Signavio's organization was brought into SAP's Business Process Intelligence (BPI) group, where its technology is being integrated into SAP's products. However, Signavio is not an SAP-only prospect, and its products can be applied across all applications in an organization's IT landscape. The company also has partnerships with other ERP vendors, including Infor.

In this Q&A, Gero Decker, co-founder and CEO at Signavio, discusses the software vendor's approach to business transformation as neither a one-time achievement nor a one-system project, but as a continuous process that spans all processes and applications in an enterprise landscape. He also discusses how the company has fared since the acquisition by SAP and the role that Signavio's business process management products can play in business digital transformation.

How is Signavio doing after the acquisition by SAP in January?

Gero Decker: A lot has happened. We hired another 200 for our team, so it's growing fast. We're working basically on two screens. One is keeping our promise of end-to-end digital transformation, helping customers understand how to transform their business processes independently -- whether it's SAP or non-SAP systems involved. The other big stream of activity is to leverage all of the synergies that we have with SAP, the SAP products and the SAP ecosystem. … We are about to release the [general availability] of the SAP Process Insights product, which brings process analytics to the masses. It doesn't require any work on the customer side. You just switch it on on your SAP systems and it starts giving you insights and recommendations.

Gero DeckerGero Decker

What are Signavio's goals after the acquisition?

Decker: Our ambition is not only to provide a great process transformation product under the SAP roof, but also to change how SAP builds and delivers enterprise software. In the future, you will not start with applications and then see how they fit into your picture. You will start with your operating model and how you want to operate moving forward. Signavio looks at the process events and, from there, pulls in application capabilities to serve the different parts of what you're trying to achieve. This is fundamentally different than a company saying, 'Here's a package of software that you need to buy.' It's more like, 'Here's the target state. Let's talk about your operating model and go through the things one by one.' That can tell you what services and capabilities they want to deploy.

This seems like a more customer-centric approach.

Decker: Customers don't care about how you slice and dice your software or how you build your technology. Customers care about how they can operate well, how they can serve their customers well and how they can be agile enough to switch to the operating model that they need. It might feel very disruptive compared to where SAP comes from, but it's where we see customer demand -- to always start with the process.

How does Signavio fit into Rise with SAP?

Decker: Right now, Rise with SAP doesn't come with a full BPI product set. There are certain components that are bundled into Rise -- most importantly, the ones that help you do your current state analysis and give the first recommendations. The moment you go into designing your future state -- evaluating the different pieces, involving a lot of people, sharing everything throughout the organization -- typically, that's where you need to license additional components or seats for Signavio's product suite. What's included in the Rise package will give you a good current state understanding of the processes you have -- what ones you're good at, what ones you're bad at and recommendations for going down the path for S/4HANA. But once it goes into an analysis of non-SAP systems or future state design, those things [are an additional cost].

How does Signavio's software help organizations understand their entire IT landscape, including SAP, as well as other systems and applications? Let's say you have three factories with different systems and processes, can Signavio help standardize those operations?

Decker: This is where Signavio traditionally comes from, to support SAP and non-SAP technology, but we're really interested in how these factories are operating -- is there a business value in standardizing [operations]? Maybe not. Maybe you can just keep it as is because that's good enough and all three factories are running fine, and it would be a $20 million project just to do a standardization but would not improve any operational KPIs. Doesn't make any sense. This is about being smart as an organization to paint a path but also to decide where you want to make the investment, what's the highest priority item.

To get to that point, you have to understand how the processes work in each system.

Decker: Right. It's easier said than done to say you want to standardize. This is where you need to fill that gap and get an understanding of how you're doing things. We always say understand, improve and transform. The understand part always comes first, and the more the system can do it for you, the better.

Is Signavio continuing relationships with other enterprise vendors like Infor that were in place before the acquisition?

Decker: That is alive and kicking. We had a ton of new customers through the Infor partnership in Q2. So, that is continuing, and that's also part of our mantra of serving both SAP and non-SAP customers. That's our view on the world. So, does Infor say, 'Now that you're part of SAP, we don't work with you anymore'? They can ask themselves that question, but so far, we haven't had a single partner leave us because we've moved underneath SAP.

Editor's note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Jim O'Donnell is a TechTarget news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for SearchSAP and SearchERP.

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