Type

Thesis

Published

December 2022

Reading time

4 minutes

The Era of Execution Management

Why we believe Celonis is a generational business – and had to back Alex, Basti and Martin

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Activant is thrilled to announce our investment in Celonis’ $1BN Series-D extension. We are excited to back Alex, Basti, Martin and the team on their mission to unlock the world's processes and capture what we believe to be the largest total addressable market in enterprise software.

Type

Thesis

Published

December 2022

Reading time

4 minutes

"There must be a better way of doing this!”

How many modern workers can identify with this phrase? Consumer and personal experiences are enhanced through immersive digital experiences powered by modern technologies, such as improved UX, UI and artificial intelligence. However, work environments often remain analog, inefficient, and frustrating. The proliferation of technology has increased organizational complexity – currently, any given business process typically runs across ten different IT systems. Because of this IT sprawl, data lives in siloes, and disparate systems require extensive manual human intervention. On top of that, humans are fallible, and errors and delays abound. The result? Inefficiencies are compounded until organizations are only executing at a fraction of their capacity.

Operating philosophies aiming to improve efficiency have a long history, including Total Quality Management in the 1980’s to Lean Six Sigma in the 2000’s. More recently, patchwork solutions, like robotic process automation (RPA), have been used to automate repetitive human tasks. However, this is not true digital transformation – many processes remain sub-optimal with little visibility of where and what the underlying problems are. This leaves modern organizations in desperate need of an intelligent solution that breaks down data siloes and provides visibility into operating efficiency, forming a basis for targeted improvements. This is so important in today’s economic environment, that CEOs regard investment spend on efficiency-enabling technology as strategic, and not a mere cost.

 

Enter Celonis

Basti, Alex and Martin started Celonis straight out of university in 2011 with €15,000 and a single customer on their platform and bootstrapped the company for the first 5 years. In the early days of Celonis, the three founders would travel to sales meetings in Basti’s old red Opel Astra (pictured above). Right before an important meeting, the car broke down and so the three founders took turns pushing the smoking car and still made it on time. That “whatever-it-takes" DNA still comes through today and it certainly came through when we first met Alex, Basti and Martin in 2016 (they had just raised their Series A). It was clear to us that they were onto something big –very big.

The trio pioneered Process Mining, elevating what was previously an academic idea into a powerful software suitable for any industry and company. Just like an x-ray, Process Mining scans the system, identifies what is broken, and paves the path for the correct treatment. Celonis’s technology aggregates the data generated by a company's varied IT systems to discover, monitor and improve real business processes. Armed with the dashboard of operational metrics and process explorer, managers finally have visibility into what went wrong, when, and why and can use Celonis’s process mining tool to root out inefficiencies, as well as target and scale their automation efforts.

 

The Era of Execution Management

However, for Alex, Basti and Martin, process mining was only the start of the journey. In 2020, they unveiled the Execution Management System (EMS). The EMS presents a fundamental shift in focus from visibility to execution capacity. It is a holistic solution with the ability to drive end-to-end transformation: from capturing data in real time, to unveiling inefficiencies, to automatically correcting them. With a solution like the Celonis EMS, companies can make massive strides towards executing at their full capacity. Activant's Founder & GP Steve Sarracino puts it: "In today’s uncertain economic environment, efficiency is more important than ever. The value creation Celonis can achieve for its customers is unlike anything we have seen before. With their highly differentiated Execution Management System, they are a key enabler of enterprise automation and have everything it takes to become a generational software company."

 

Celonis was recently featured in the “Forbes Cloud 100” list, taking the 11th spot. We at Activant are certain that sooner rather than later they will climb those remaining 10 spots to hit #1 spot on the “Forbes Cloud 100”. We believe that the world is moving rapidly towards the truly intelligent, automated enterprise – a world where operations are orchestrated by software. The visibility provided by process mining forms the perfect base. As the clear global category leader in EMS, it is our strong belief that Celonis will become the de facto operating system for business execution, providing true visibility, and automated solutions for any enterprise in the world at scale. That is a very big mission and the team at Celonis is approaching this challenge with the same spirit they had when pushing that old car through the forest – they will do what it takes to get the job done.

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