2019 was a banner year for process mining discipline. From a plethora of new process mining and process discovery startups, new approaches and technologies, a slew of acquisitions, and the making of a unicorn, it had it all.
So, what does 2020 have in store for the process mining industry? Here are a few thoughts on the outlook and trends. As always, the validity of crystal ball gazing and the accuracy of any predictions in the process mining 2020 post can only be known at the end of the year.
Without much further ado, here goes predictions and perspectives for Process Mining in 2020 and beyond.
Process Mining 2020: Predictions and Perspectives
- Precursor to Automation
- Adoption of Process Hygiene
- Focus on Post-Discovery Outcomes
- Reliance on Artificial Intelligence to go beyond Event Logs
- Active Monitoring to Keep Tabs on the Pulse of the Enterprise
- Consolidation and Shakeout
Now let’s dive briefly into each of these Process Mining 2020 trends.
1. Process Mining will become a precursor to Automation
The struggles of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) are well known and well documented. A common thread among many of the struggles of process automation – whether it is called task automation, robotic process automation, hyper-automation, or cognitive automation – is not understanding the nuances and subtleties of the underlying business process.
An enterprise business process is not a neatly stacked set of boxes and arrows. It is convoluted, complicated, and has variants galore. We, at Skan.AI, refer to this phenomenon of the hidden variations of a business process as the invisible enterprise.
Considering the fact it takes 6-9 months of “hardening” to make a bot work to account for all the process nuances, Process Discovery will emerge as the de facto precursor to enterprise automation efforts.
2. Adoption of Process Hygiene
The father of process mining, Professor Wil Van der Aalst, compares process mining to basic process hygiene – a foundational imperative for any company interested in orchestrating efficient operations.
What it means is that like we brush teeth and brush our hair, in an enterprise setting process mining and process discovery must emerge as one of those everyday habits, not once in a while events.
With the growing knowledge about the process mining discipline and the realization that processes are at the heart of an enterprise, we believe progressive firms will increasingly adopt process mining and discovery as a hygiene item.
3. Focus on Post-Discovery Outcomes
Process Mining, by definition, suggests understanding the current state of the enterprise processes. That, sometimes, leads to the “So, What?” conversation as to what does process discovery accomplish, and how to use the process transparency and insights going forward.
We think the industry is going to spend more time helping enterprises take the findings and learnings to craft a better process state.
The post-process discovery outcomes can range from the obvious to the aha and our goal at the process mining stalwarts will help lead the path.
A few examples of the potential outcomes from process mining:
- Re-engineer existing processes or design new processes and model/simulate/test by changing variables in a sandbox.
- Power process conformance by leveraging the process insights to set guardrails and backstops as a part of the integral process workflow.
- Identify “automation” opportunities by pinpointing repetitive and manual tasks.
- Individualize learning – what we call precision training – with an assessment of variability across a group of process participants.
- Generate one-click documentation for automation or better still the nirvana of “right-click automation”
4. Reliance on Artificial Intelligence to go beyond Event Logs
Process mining has its start in culling through application event logs to decipher process steps. While that approach has merit, today, a new generation of methods and approaches to process discovery are emerging, thanks to cognitive technologies.
AI technologies such as computer vision, machine learning, and neural networks are powering Skan’s CPX (Cognitive Process Extraction) Engine to observe, record, and interpret work as it happens, at a scale and precision hitherto impossible.
Skan’s virtual process analyst records all human interactions with digital systems unobtrusively and then from the digital footprints of actions, interactions, and transactions create a process metamodel.
Many companies realize the limitations of exclusively relying on backend event logs and hence focusing on understanding the front-end agent/participant actions as a critical piece of the process puzzle.
5. Active Monitoring to Keep Tabs on the Pulse of the Enterprise
Monitoring the process pulse is akin to a Fitbit for the enterprise as it helps keep tabs on what is happening in real-time. Or think of it as the bank of monitors in a hospital that tracks a patient’s vitals.
Whatever analogy helps you visualize the active monitoring of enterprise processes, it is a powerful paradigm shift in how companies will track, monitor, and modulate work as it happens.
Active monitoring can lead to many powerful positive outcomes. For example, a supervisor will be able to see incoming work order flow and calibrate capacity. Or the compliance officer will know in real-time where breaches in processes are occurring. A process automation expert may notice failing handoffs between bots and humans and patch in a fix. The possibilities are endless…
6. Consolidation and Shakeout
In a rapidly evolving field, where new ideas and established players compete and jostle for mindshare and market share, consolidation and shakeout are inevitable.
Presently, the process mining and process discovery space is nascent and emerging. Many investors realize the potential of process discovery space and will add to their portfolios, leading to more ideas and innovations.
However, the latter rounds of funding will be directly reliant on the traction of the startups. Revenue and profitability were conveniently ignored in the euphoria of the last decade. In 2020 and beyond, while scale and growth will remain essential factors for measuring progress, revenue and profitability will be where one separates the wheat from the chaff.
Major enterprise platforms and RPA vendors will try to plug the gaps in their platforms by acquiring one or more of the process mining startups. A few mergers have already occurred, and more could be underway in 2020.
Stay tuned as to which of these Process Mining 2020 trends come true.
As goes the Chinese saying: “May we live in interesting times.”
Satya Iluri is Vice President of Strategy, Marketing, and Customer Success at Skan, an AI-powered process mining and process discovery platform.