Why the Process Mining Market Is Heating Up
Anyone interested in identifying which way the technology winds are blowing could do worse than watching Microsoft's acquisition habits. The company has a long-standing business strategy of buying into technologies lacking in its portfolio. The recent announcement that it is buying Minit, a Slovakia-based process mining technology vendor, for an undisclosed sum is a case in point.
Why Microsoft Bought Minit
According to a Microsoft blog post, Minit enables businesses to transform the way they analyze, monitor and optimize their processes. "Minit’s solutions have helped businesses gain deep insights into how processes run, uncover root causes of operational challenges and help mitigate undesired process outcomes," the blog reads.
This, Microsoft states in the post, enables customers to digitally transform and drive operational excellence by creating a complete picture of their business processes, enabling every process to be easily and automatically analyzed and improved.
Given the growth rate in process development and automation, Microsoft’s move is not surprising. Process mining enables business leaders to gain a holistic view of their processes, spot inefficiencies and identify improvement opportunities, including automation. The market is expected to grow to $11 billion by 2028.
This is not Microsoft’s first foray into process mining either. In 2019, the company added new features to Power Automate to enable process mining. Power Automate, formerly Microsoft Flow, is an online tool within the Microsoft 365 applications. Its add-ins are used for the creation of automated workflows between apps and services to synchronize files, get notifications and collect data. Then in 2020, the company bought RPA vendor Softomotive, a move the company said would enable everyone to create bots to automate manual business processes.
The purchase of Minit, however, moves everything up a gear. Underlining the growing appetite for process-mining technologies, in March 2022, Celonis, a data processing company, acquired Minit competitor Process Analytics Factory, which integrates with Microsoft’s Power BI analytics platform. A few months prior, RPA vendor Automation Anywhere had bought process discovery and mining startup FortressIQ.
In 2019, New York City-based UiPath, which helps organizations' people, robots and systems work more cohesively by providing them with granular visibility into their existing processes, added ProcessGold and StepShot to its existing automation platform. ABBYY and Kryon have also expanded their process mining offerings, further indicating that the space is heating up.
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Inefficient Processes Bog Down the Enterprise
Citing AIMultiple research, Tom Kummert, EVP of products and engineering at UiPath, said 37% of decision makers report delays to their digital transformation initiatives due to misunderstood processes. Slow and inefficient processes also lead to poor customer satisfaction, employee engagement and operational efficiency, in addition to creating silos between how different departments, teams and tools execute upon processes.
The solution to these challenges is process mining, which uses transactional data in systems and applications to reveal the true state of existing processes and identify end-to-end process improvements. This makes process mining a critical component to successful enterprise automation deployments, helping to identify and improve processes via software robots.
“This not only boosts the success rates for automation deployments but also accelerates organizational-wide digital transformation efforts — ensuring every process that can and should be automated is managed by robots,” Kummert said.
Process Mining and the C-suite
The move into process mining is timely and comes after two years of remote work during which the weaknesses of many processes were exposed. Process mining has moved to the top of the C-suite agenda for a number of reasons, including its ability to save organizations time and money.
“The remote and hybrid work environment exposed how badly their processes were causing errors, delays and frustrations for employees and customers alike,” said Ryan Raiker, senior director of product marketing at Charlotte, NC-based ABBYY. “And the shortage of talent is requiring businesses to operate at maximum efficiency. Process mining and task mining takes the blindfolds off IT and management to see how their processes are truly working.”
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By creating a digital twin of their business processes, leaders see the bottlenecks, redundancies, how staff interact with systems and the consequence of their actions. Most importantly, process mining can highlight the best opportunity areas for automation and/or staff retraining.
Raiker recalls a case where a multinational telecommunications company used process mining to improve their customer support and service truck rolls. "After identifying the root cause why multiple work trucks were sent to the same service request, within the first six weeks the process mining uncovered how they could save $8 million,” he said.
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Process Mining Picks Up Where RPA Leaves Off
Jon Knisley, a principal at Australia-based intelligent automation services firm RevealGroup and a former consultant at FortressIQ, said process mining is much more than just process analysis. Process mining, he said, is a set of techniques used to understand end-to-end processes, discover subprocesses, monitor KPIs and identify potential bottlenecks by analyzing the event data generated during the execution of the process. Process mining follows work that flows between multiple people and systems, and it does this by hooking into the server-side logs and operational data.
“Marc Andreessen was right back in 2011 when he famously claimed that software is eating the world," Knisley said. “Process is at a similar inflection point. For too long now, technology had been the focus of transformation efforts, and it has led to dismal success rates for complex change programs.”
In fact, process mining goes even beyond that. It empowers organizations to use their process data to improve every initiative and every decision. By collecting, aggregating and cleaning this new data set, all while sidestepping the traditional challenges of business process management, organizations are left with a centralized system of record for work. This new process data nirvana was not technically or economically feasible until now.
“Executives now have real-time, comprehensive and usable insights on how their companies truly operate at the granular level required to make improvements,” Knisley said.
While private equity focuses on new, born-in-the-cloud startups, established enterprises have massive amounts of data and industry-specific processes they can leverage. Dan Kirsch, managing director at Boca Raton, Fla.-based Techstrong Research, said RPA was all the rage several years ago, promising to automate many business processes to eliminate those redundant and inefficient.
“Processing mining is the next logical step," he said. "Industry incumbents, especially those in the banking, insurance, hospitality, air travel and governmental industries have decades of business processes. The challenge is how can you use those processes to differentiate your business and drive new business?”
About the Author
Siobhan is the editor in chief of Reworked, the premier publication covering the r/evolution of work published by Simpler Media Group, Inc. Siobhan leads the site's content strategy, with a focus on the transformation of the workplace.