RPA: Blue Prism partners with Celonis on process automation, transformation

RPA: Blue Prism partners with Celonis on process automation, transformation

Robotic process automation (RPA) and ‘digital workforce’ specialist Blue Prism has announced a partnership with business process transformation provider, Celonis.

The deal will see the two companies bring their products to market jointly.

Their aim is automating mission-critical business processes, while providing users with “analytical insights to increase productivity, drive operational efficiencies, develop better customer experiences, and deliver new services”, according to a statement from Blue Prism.

Celonis’ ‘process mining’ approach provides a detailed analysis of process metrics. By combining this with RPA, businesses can overcome many of the challenges inherent in any automation initiative, it says.

For example, joint customers such as Siemens are using Celonis to deliver visibility into how internal processes are running, allowing them to take a more “guided approach” to RPA implementation and monitoring.

After Blue Prism has been deployed, organisations can use Celonis’ offerings to monitor and manage “all interactions within their business processes to operationalise change”, adds the announcement.

By combining the two companies’ suites, users can:

  • Evaluate business processes with what the providers call “instant visualisation”
  • Identify further process automation opportunities
  • Understand RPA business cases based on internal data
  • Reduce project risk with process transparency at all phases of RPA implementation
  • And measure, sustain, and adapt digitised processes over time to drive further operational efficiencies.

New thinking about automation

“Our partners like Celonis are helping bring about a sea change in the way that customers think about automation,” said Colin Redbond, head of technology strategy for Blue Prism.

“Working with Celonis, we share a common vision for enabling enterprises to drive new innovations by taking advantage of the latest automation capabilities inherent in our intelligent digital workforce, while ensuring that it is done in a sustainable, scalable way.”

“Business leaders know that successful automation initiatives drive top-line value and bottom-line profits, while mitigating risk,” added Marc Kinast, VP of global business development at Celonis.

“We’ve seen firsthand that organisations often struggle to understand the maturity of their processes, and to decide which processes are standardised enough to benefit from RPA.

“Process mining provides a much smoother and more controlled ‘process-first’ approach to automation, and this enables customers to efficiently and effectively transform business operations with powerful analytics and intelligent automation.”

Internet of Business says

RPA pioneer Blue Prism has grown fast under the radar: a British success story – and a North of England success story, too: the company is headquartered near Warrington, halfway between Liverpool and Manchester.

Founded in 2001 by CEO Alastair Bathgate and CTO David Moss, the company floated on AIM in 2016 and now has a market capitalisation north of £1.8 billion ($2.4 billion). Its enterprise partners include Accenture, Deloitte, EY, HPE, IBM, KPMG, and PwC, while customers include Heineken, Coca-Cola, the NHS, Pfizer, HSBC, and American Express.

Earlier this year, Internet of Business caught up with co-founder and CTO Moss for an exclusive interview.

He told us that the main driver of RPA isn’t replacing human beings with software robots, as many believe; it’s to counter the slowness of the internal development process.

“Before you know it, the world’s changed,” he said. “You’ve got a piece of software that you’ve paid a lot of money for, but it’s a reflection of the way the world was four years ago.

“The second reason was […] we saw business leaders yearning to self-serve. We saw technology departments that were creaking under the weight of demand, they were being shrunk down and outsourced, and offshored, and couldn’t do the amount of changes that were requested of them.

“And we wanted to democratise technology. We thought, ‘Let’s give it to operational people and let them define their own problems and solutions.’”

In many large organisations, traditional back-end IT maintenance and legacy systems are being brought together under the same umbrella as new product development, front of house. In some ways, Blue Prism was ahead of that trend.

“What’s interesting about that is that when you’ve got front-of-house, customer-centric systems of engagement, and then in the back office you’ve got your legacy, data-centric systems which you change at your peril, those two systems move at very different speeds,” Moss explained.

“Your customer-centric systems are about disrupting the market, about first-mover advantage, launching new products, being the market leader by getting these things out there first.

“Whereas those legacy applications are the complete antithesis of that – and you can’t change them, they’re the rock on which your organisation is built. And so the way I describe Blue Prism, this digital workforce that we provide, is, in a way, as the gears in between those two different architectures.

“Where I think we can go as this technology matures, in terms of AI, as intelligent automation technologies start to become more accessible and more consumable, is we’re looking to mature that notion of a software robot into a digital worker.

“But what I mean by a ‘digital worker’ isn’t something that can replace someone in your organisation. It’s about creating a digital surrounding for your employees, if you like. Something that can inform, augment, support, and assist people, to help them access more data than they can see themselves, give them insights that they can’t reach otherwise, help them make decisions and deliver value to customers more quickly.”

The new partnership with Celonis appears to extend that vision to other providers that share complementary aims.

Chris Middleton
Chris Middleton is former editor of Internet of Business, and now a key contributor to the title. He specialises in robotics, AI, the IoT, blockchain, and technology strategy. He is also former editor of Computing, Computer Business Review, and Professional Outsourcing, among others, and is a contributing editor to Diginomica, Computing, and Hack & Craft News. Over the years, he has also written for Computer Weekly, The Guardian, The Times, PC World, I-CIO, V3, The Inquirer, and Blockchain News, among many others. He is an acknowledged robotics expert who has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITN, and Talk Radio, and is probably the only tech journalist in the UK to own a number of humanoid robots, which he hires out to events, exhibitions, universities, and schools. Chris has also chaired conferences on robotics, AI, IoT investment, digital marketing, blockchain, and space technologies, and has spoken at numerous other events.