Signavio: Keeping the faith

Enthusiasm and talent

It’s May 2009. The world is still shaking from the financial crisis. Businesses worldwide are having to make rapid changes, hold cash, and slow down expenses. In many cases, CEOs are simply crossing their fingers and hoping the worst has passed.

Meanwhile, over in Berlin, a group of enthusiastic and talented technologists decides that this is the time to launch a new company and enter the Business Process Analysis and Design market! Looking back, it is hard to judge whether they were a little crazy or just a touch naïve. But, then again, they’re having the last laugh—and here I am writing this post—which is a testament to their vision and courage.

But let’s take a moment here: Over 1,000 clients, over 1m users, offices in eight countries, and more than 300 workers… Signavio is an incredible story of success, which highlights how unshakeable belief can get you a long way in business (and that risk-taking can help too).

Outmaneuvering the competition

Process change insights

When Signavio Process Editor—as Signavio Process Manager was then named—hit the market, there were no serious cloud-based modeling tools, and the world was still debating the merits of BPMN as a notation.

In fact, in early 2010, Gartner produced a Magic Quadrant for BPA tools, which featured their 14 leading vendors at that time. However, by today, only eight remain in business! And for the most part, the companies have moved away from BPA or were never mainstream BPA players.

The difference is… people

So, what has Signavio done differently, and how has the company thrived? In short, the answer is: People, people, people!

For starters, historical and legacy tools were, and remain, tools for process experts. They are technology for the few; only usable with in-depth training, and designed to be all things to all people. In reality, this resulted in shrinking markets and shrinking revenues for vendors. Combine this with the sometimes blisteringly high prices, and you start to understand why experts were intrigued by the new kid on the ‘process block’.

Interestingly, the second group of inquirers were not experts but were highly knowledgeable about their business and the processes within which they worked. Having the opportunity to quickly design and improve processes, with minimum training and using a spreadsheet-style interface, became very appealing.

Then, of course, the super-hyped ‘cloud’ meant that people could buy and start using the product without needing to involve their IT department. Revolutionary!

Signavio = Signavians

And then there is the Signavio team—the passionate Signavians, all working in the same direction for the massive benefit of the company. I often say that the spirit of Signavio lies with its people. Signavio is a team of highly skilled, highly motivated people who are all passionate about process.

For me, this is Signavio’s backbone. Take a look at the reviews on the Gartner Peer Insights website, and you’ll notice how Signavio and its service is the critical differentiator.

Be it at Signavio, or your own business, what we can conclude is that the wisdom of crowd-thinking is critical. We see from customer feedback/quotes that the people-centric approach underscored by Signavio is helping to make process a part of business DNA—and this is high praise indeed!

Transforming business DNA

Of course, the fact that Signavio was first to offer an end-user view and collaboration platform probably helped (a bit), because the norm was to publish static web pages and reports. Users were therefore not guaranteed to see current information or be able to participate in the improvement exercises without expensive tool licenses.

(It was during this time that Signavio Collaboration Hub was born).

Of course, the past 10 years of process have not just been all about modeling and management. Much has changed in the world of automation, too. And even though the changes took a while to happen, by today they are coming thick and fast!

The automation revolution

Process change insights

In 2009 much of the focus was on Business Process Management Systems (BPMS). These all-encompassing, all-singing, all-dancing, solve all your problems technology suites—with mapping, modeling, mining, automation, and monitoring—were initially quite appealing.

However, as many of the automation vendors discovered, the worlds of analysis and design and the sphere of solution creation are very different. Business people did not want to relinquish process improvement to the IT folks, and IT workers struggled, for the most part, to map or model processes that were intelligible to the business people.

Now, many of the BPMS vendors seem to have disappeared, and others have repositioned. Low-code, no-code variants now compete with other application development environments, while the solution-oriented offerings compete with their specialist package vendor counterparts.

Meanwhile, the mid-market BPMS space is still being exploited by open source-centric vendors.

Go with the (work)flow

Today, workflow is again considered a separate entity from BPMS. Many types of product, from content management and service management to collaboration tools, now embed some kind of workflow capability.

Vendors and users alike understand that quick, accessible user-created applications can deliver faster and easier results than full-blown IT-centric projects. To this end, Signavio is still relatively alone in recognizing the need to add human task-centric workflow within a modeling-based environment. But the capability must be delivered via a fully featured and capable workflow engine.

So, Signavio Workflow Accelerator was added to the Signavio mix!

The development of process mining

Remember, too, that even when ‘process’ was not very fashionable, Signavio enjoyed triple-digit growth. However, around two years ago several exciting changes occurred, which would breathe even more life into the world of process…

The first of these changes concerned higher levels of interest in process mining. While a portion of process mining had been embedded in BPMS tools, it was still perceived primarily as an academic exercise with no clear route to revenue or clear value. A couple of vendors tried commercially but with limited success.

(This all changed with the birth of Celonis, who has to be credited with doing a great job of commercializing process mining).

Recognizing this newfound interest in process mining, Signavio built and brought to market Signavio Process Intelligence. True to their “power to the people” and cloud heritage, Signavio was the first to offer an affordable way to democratize and apply process mining via the cloud. This enabled process mining to be executed in ways that were previously not accessible, either through price, or the high levels of consulting required.

The Suite (taste of success)

Signavio Business Transformation Suite

The second seismic change was the birth of the Signavio Business Transformation Suite, bringing together mining, modeling, workflow automation and full collaboration in a single solution.

This was the first time that process mining was correctly connected to a full-featured modeling tool. At last organizations could—from a single vendor, with a single offering—leverage a complete end-to-end product for analyzing, designing and improving processes (both manual and automated). Organizations could connect the worlds of business, IT and automation seamlessly, and be able to understand, measure and monitor processes across multiple IT systems.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

The newest threat to process automation vendors

Lastly, a new process challenger has emerged; Robotic Process Automation (RPA). A technology that threatens all sorts of process automation vendors at many levels.

Process automation with RPA is perhaps the first time since the 90s, and Ashton-Tate’s Dbase 3 product, that business people are really looking to do automation for themselves. Of course, as with any hyped automation technology, there are risks associated with those rewards!

The most significant challenges are how to scale RPA initiatives to enterprise levels, how to manage the performance of robots, how to integrate robots from different vendors, and how to protect your business from failing robots.

In the short term, nothing is going to stop the march of the RPA vendors, but later down the line, many are going to be wishing they had taken a sensible and pragmatic approach to applying them.

The value of process modeling

So, it is not surprising that both users and RPA vendors welcome the value of process modeling and see it as an aide to successful implementation and roll out. A definite change from the world of BPMS, where process modeling was seen as a pain-point that halted the quick sell of large-scale automation projects.

Beyond that, RPA vendors are also finding that connecting with process mining affords them advantages, both at the implementation level and in managing implementations. Small surprise then that the RPA vendor Blue Prism recently honored Signavio at a recent event in London!

Signavio: 10 years on…

The power of process will only grow stronger

Looking at where we are today, analysts were right to predict that mining, modeling, and monitoring belong together. However, there was an underestimation of the power and influence held by business managers in technology purchasing decisions. Plus, for the most part, the power of collaborative approaches to process design and improvement was underappreciated. It was also not foreseen that modeling would outlast many automation systems.

With this, the process market is healthier today than it has ever been. In general across the enterprise software market, we see that many of the fastest growing and most highly valued vendors are actually process vendors!

It is true that the leading vendors don’t get the recognition they would have received 10 years ago, but they are achieving levels of penetration and growth that none of the leading players at that time ever accomplished in their heyday.

So, with that… Happy Birthday, Signavio!

Join the party!

Signavio Live Virtual Conference

But why not become a part of the Signavio journey yourself? Join us for Signavio Live on May 29, for one of the world’s biggest business transformation & process management virtual events! On the hour, every hour, spanning the world’s time zones —attendees will hear an array of insights during presentations from global heavy hitters like Prudential Financial, BBC and Tech Mahindra.

Process change insights

If you’re interested in building a process culture within your organization, and supporting your entire team to work together, Signavio can help. You can download a free resource to understand Why Collaboration is Key for Successful Business Transformation, or sign up for a free 30-day trial today to see how Signavio can help your business take advantage of current opportunities, and plan for future challenges.