The golden goose in the process mines
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: why process-mining companies are the next logical place for big enterprise tech to expand, Ampere signals its intentions to go public, and the latest major funding rounds in enterprise tech.
While applications built around managed container services dominate a lot of new application-development strategies on cloud providers like AWS, the concept is still pretty new to the broader world. Only 14% of cloud customers surveyed by Dark Reading are using managed container services, which suggests there’s still lots of room to grow.
Trust the process
The enterprise software establishment is on a process-mining buying spree. At the end of March, Microsoft purchased process-mining company Minit; early last year, SAP acquired Signavio for an undisclosed sum; and IBM acquired startup myInvenio just a few months after SAP’s purchase.
But why are these business software giants investing so heavily in process mining? The answer may be less about process mining itself, and more about what process mining, workflow management and robotic process automation can achieve together. In this industry, the whole could be greater than the sum of its parts.
- Process mining lets companies analyze their business processes — workflows and procedures that employees follow in response to various events, such as receiving an invoice — in order to fix bottlenecks and make other operational improvements.
- But the complexity of today’s business operations makes this no easy task.
- And there’s often a pretty strong divergence between the processes a company claims to have and what actually happens day to day.
- “[Process mining] was only known more at the academic side, and less so in the true operations of larger customers,” said Rouven Morato, general manager of SAP Signavio.
One of those early academics was Wil van der Aalst, a professor at RWTH Aachen University and the chief scientist for Celonis, one of the better-known upstarts in the process-mining world.
- “In the mid-1990s, I saw the uptake of workflow management solutions, and there was then a huge wave of systems to support business processes by just modeling them,” he said. He shifted his research from workflow management to process mining, a topic he said hadn’t existed at the time.
- Traditionally, this work has been done by systems integrators or consultants, who map out processes by interviewing employees and analyzing documents.
- But both van der Aalst and Morato agree that process improvement should be a continuous practice, not a one-off project.
- “Oftentimes what we see in the market with customers is that they run these transformation projects where they look at procure to pay as one project: They analyze it, they find inefficiencies, they might even take the next step of fixing it,” said Morato.
- But when vendors go back to those customers a year later, they might have stopped following the new processes and are back at square one, he said.
Still, process mining on its own isn’t enough to drive the types of operational improvements enterprises are seeking. To Celonis co-founder Alexander Rinke, process mining is a “gateway technology to building new and better processes,” which is why it's often lumped together with workflow management and robotic process automation.
- That’s why the recent merger activity points to a logical transition for big companies that sell enterprise resource planning software, known as ERP, because they probably already have all the necessary operational and process data in their systems.
- By plugging in a process-mining component, these companies can provide more value to their customers by making their processes faster or less error-prone, for example.
- And to Morato, the integration between an ERP system and process-mining software is essential. “If you think about what you want to achieve with a process change, at the end of the day you want to change the execution of how the process is being executed. And that always requires the underlying transactional application.”
- After a company has identified its processes, the logical next step is to automate them, which is why process mining and robotic process automation services are also talked about in conjunction. In fact, process mining is a necessary first step before even using RPA.
Overall, it’s clear that further industry consolidation lies ahead for process-mining, ERP and RPA players. In fact, some industry practitioners think process-mining and RPA companies will almost have to expand into adjacent spaces to survive.
- “I think that consolidation clearly shows that as a standalone mining vendor, it's really hard because by now it’s very hard to differentiate, it's very hard to get traction in the market,” said Morato.
- Morato sees the market becoming commoditized because so many companies can do process mining.
- Rinke, however, disagrees. “I think it’s actually a space that is commoditizing other things and not getting commoditized,” he said, pointing to RPA as an example. “Because you look at RPA, I mean RPA is really a transient technology. It doesn't have long-term durability.”
If process-mining companies can’t succeed on their own, it might prove that a platform play is ultimately more impactful than a more focused approach pursued by a single vendor. And it would be a feather in the cap for ERP companies that have been touting that strategy for years.
A MESSAGE FROM PwC
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Ampere’s likely going public
Oracle-backed server processor startup Ampere Computing said Monday that it plans to go public, filing initial confidential paperwork with the SEC.
Ampere designs server chips based on Arm architecture that aim to challenge chips made by Intel and AMD, which run on x86-based designs. Microsoft and Oracle are two of Ampere’s larger customers; the latter has quietly invested $426 million in Ampere, which is run by former Intel president Renée James. The funding will likely aid Ampere’s efforts to carve out a space in the data center for rivals to Intel and AMD, which currently dominate the server market.
A public listing would give Ampere an infusion of cash and potential access to more investment further down the line via public markets. The confidential treatment allows Ampere to proceed with the listing process without making significant disclosures around its operations and financial performance in recent years. Some companies file prospectuses and never go public, or end up getting acquired along the way.
Oracle’s latest quarterly earnings report implied that it had taken a 20% to 50% stake in Ampere, based on accounting rules. James sits on Oracle’s board, but it stopped treating her as an independent member after Oracle first took a stake in the Silicon Valley company.
Clarify Health was another recipient of SoftBank’s largesse, raising a $150 million series D round for its health care data analytics software.
Nord Security landed the first major funding round in its 10-year history, raising $100 million from Novator to build out its security and identity management software.
Around the enterprise
Intel unveiled a new expansion to its flagship D1X chipmaking plant in Hillsboro, Oregon, and renamed the facility “Gordon Moore Park at Ronler Acres” in honor of its co-founder, a chip industry legend.
Kaseya acquired Datto for $6.2 billion to add its small-business backup and recovery software to its broader array of IT software and services.
Puppet, one of the first infrastructure-as-code startups that also helped establish the concept of DevOps, was acquired by Perforce for an undisclosed amount.
A MESSAGE FROM PwC
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Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!