Two years ago, Celonis opened its first office in Japan, and – I’m delighted to say – we have been warmly welcomed into the business community. That tells me there is a substantial overlap between what Celonis offers and what the business community in Japan wants and needs to do right now. This interest is, in particular, around digital transformation and the solutions Celonis brings to the table.
I’m going to look at that common ground in a little more detail later. But let me first paint a picture of our presence in the Japanese market. Celonis is now firmly established as the leader in process mining in Japan. We have a very strong base of more than 50 customers, and we have forged partnerships with 20 companies. We’ve had some significant milestones too: Last summer, we held our first virtual conference in Japan - Celosphere Japan. This was, followed by the Celonis World Tour Japan in autumn, with presentations from customers including SmartHR, Inc. MISUMI Group Inc. and KDDI Corporation.
In Japan, the response to our intelligent Execution Management Solution has been so positive that we are expanding our local footprint. Japanese companies are increasingly welcoming opportunities to improve the efficiency of their supply chains, financial systems, as well as manufacturing and production processes. To address this need, we are increasing the number of talented individuals at Celonis who can help our customers to reach their maximum execution capacity – therefore we plan to double our number of Tokyo-based employees by the end of this year.
Let's look under the hood to understand why Celonis is growing so rapidly in Japan. I believe the key reason is the healthy harmony between what gives Japanese companies their ‘edge’ and what Celonis has to offer.
Japan is a country and a market where we feel right at home. It’s also where the concept of Kaizen was invented more than 60 years ago. This is the process of seeking continuous improvement in business activities. Today, Kaizen is deeply rooted in Japanese business culture and widely emulated around the world.
Our common ground: continuous improvement is precisely what Celonis helps our customers achieve. Our Execution Management System (EMS) is a new class of technology built to accomplish continuous improvements in execution capacity. For many organizations, this is trapped inside rigid and fragmented IT systems. Such artificial limits on capacity lead to what we call ‘execution barriers’, usually in the form of errors, inefficiencies and delays. Some are visible and can be tackled with so-called ‘point Kaizen’.
But most are hidden and need a different kind of system to uncover them. Most importantly, Celonis is not a ‘one and done’ solution. It continuously monitors systems to identify possible execution barriers, suggests an optimal way to close those gaps, and offers automation tools to ensure best practices are consistently followed and maximize execution capacity.
Right now, organizations in Japan are looking to adapt and respond to the new way we work and live as a result of the pandemic. Despite the apparent challenges in this situation, what we observe in Japan is a desire to seize the opportunity for a fresh start.
Recognition of process mining as a critical component in supporting the revitalization of Japanese industry and commerce is steadily increasing. One sign was the creation of the Association of Process Mining Japan (APMJ) to educate about process mining methods in June last year. This was followed a few months later by the publication of "Process Mining in Action" by Dr. Lars Reinkemeyer in Japanese. The book features case studies of companies in the US and Europe that are already achieving excellent business outcomes with process mining and Celonis.
Encouraged by this renewed interest in continuous business improvement, many Japanese companies are taking on the challenge of establishing new business models and engaging in Digital Transformation (DX) at a pace never seen before. As they are seeking - and acting on – opportunities for improvement, we are experiencing unprecedented interest from companies in Japan wanting to leverage Celonis’ EMS to find execution barriers, wherever they may occur within their processes. Fujitsu Limited, for example, as part of ‘Fujitsu Transformation’, a company-wide DX project, is working to transform its global and group business management and business processes using Celonis to clarify the relationships among existing complex operations.
One of the most exciting aspects of Kaizen, in my opinion, is that it always had a broader perspective than just the automation of repetitive manual tasks. It became world-famous in manufacturing environments – ‘The Toyota Way’ is the best-known example – but the core principle of Kaizen can (and should) be applied at all stages of work and across all levels in the organization – up to and including the CEO.
This breadth of approach and open-mindedness will be essential, too, for companies seeking genuine DX. If it’s going to be successful, there has to be a strategic approach, led by top management, to embed Digital Transformation end-to-end, from business strategy and planning to execution and its monitoring as well as continuous improvement.
In the digital age, everything is connected. But many organizations – not just in Japan – still find it difficult to visualize their operations using digital data which is the basis for continuous improvement. There is a real demand for solutions that deliver this. Celonis lets you maximize the potential for end-to-end optimization and automation to significantly improve the bottom line by visualizing the linkages and barriers in your business's execution. This is the opportunity for Japanese companies to reinvent themselves and to create new business models to stay ahead of the global competition.