Appian Inc., a major provider of software for enterprise business automation, has acquired The Berlin process mining technology provider Lana Labs GmbH.
Appian announced the deal on Thursday. The takeover comes at a time when the process mining segment is becoming increasingly important both for manufacturers of business software and for technology investors.
Appian, listed on the Nasdaq, offers a low-code platform that enables companies to automate repetitive tasks that are typically performed manually by employees. The company shares this focus with robotic process automation or RPA providers like UiPath Inc., whose software also enables companies to streamline repetitive business operations. Appian also offers RPA functionality as part of its platform, but takes a slightly different approach to automation.
RPA tools work by watching employees perform a task in a business application and generating a software “bot” that can perform the task automatically. Appian’s platform, in turn, enables companies to create automation workflows that use not only software bots but other technologies to streamline business processes. Appian-powered workflows can include manual steps as well as RPA technology from other companies such as UiPath.
For example, a manufacturer could use Appian’s platform to automate the task of processing customer product orders. It could create a workflow that uses an RPA bot to extract the contents of product orders and then feeds the extracted data into an artificial intelligence algorithm that determines which department to send the file to. Finally, the manufacturer can add a manually defined rule stating that the document should be forwarded to a manager instead if the AI fails to identify the appropriate department.
The acquisition of Lana Labs will allow Appian to add process mining capabilities to the mix as well. Lana Labs offers an AI-powered process mining platform developed by companies such as Telefonica SA and KPMG International Ltd.
Before a company can apply software to a manual business task, it must first identify which steps in the workflow could be automated. This initial phase of automation projects is known as process mining. The Lana Labs platform visualizes the individual steps of a business workflow in a dashboard to help decision-makers identify opportunities to increase efficiency.
After analyzing how a company processes customer product orders, the platform may find that the most time consuming step of the task is to manually load details from orders into the sales database. Executives can then choose to prioritize automating the data loading step first as part of the company’s RPA initiative. Lana Labs also offers a dashboard that enables decision makers to monitor how the efficiency of business processes changes over time.
“There is a natural synergy between process mining, process modeling, and automation,” said Matt Calkins, Appian’s chief executive officer. “We believe our acquisition of Lana Labs means that only Appian will be able to take customers from knowledge to action in a unified suite.”
Process mining has also recently become a higher priority for IBM Corp., which competes with a number of products in the business automation market. The company in April acquired Process mining software provider myInvenio Srl to expand its automation portfolio. UiPath worked on it too expand one’s skills in this area.
One reason the interest in process mining is growing is that as the number of companies using RPA to automate business tasks grows, there is a growing demand for software products that can discover new ways to automate tasks. The trend has caught the attention of not only industry players like Appian and IBM, but also technology investors. Celonis GmbH, a process mining startup, recently behaved $ 1 billion in funding from a consortium led by Durable Capital Partners and T. Rowe Price Associates.
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