I’m fascinated with metaphors. To think that we utter six a minute as James Geary suggests is truly eye-opening. I am personally hooked on a metaphor's ability to help me easily understand new ideas. It simply works.
“Metaphor lives a secret life all around us. We utter about one metaphor for every ten to twenty-five words, or about six metaphors a minute.” -James Geary
As a product marketer in technology, I explain complex technical ideas to people all the time. Sometimes my audience has a limited or no reference point for the concepts I am trying to convey. If I am doing my job well however, I should be able to explain anything in a way my 11-year-old daughter can easily understand. At least, that’s my goal.
One of the topics I’ve spent a lot of time explaining recently is object-centric process mining (OCPM). At Celonis, we’ve been talking about OCPM since 2022. OCPM is foundational to how we are revolutionizing and reinventing the discipline of process mining, which has proven time and again to be the technology that paves the most efficient path to realizing new levels of business performance.
Learn more about OCPM: What is object-centric process mining? | Object-Centric Process Mining: The next frontier in business performance (white paper) | Better, stronger, faster: Object-centric process mining lets us rebuild business processes like The Six Million Dollar Man
OCPM is a big deal! It can also be hard to grasp. OCPM involves the sophisticated extraction, transformation and modeling of data and the visualization and analysis of objects in various sequences of business events across interconnected processes. It's complicated, but very important work for every business to perform.
As a father of four, my kids often ask me what I do. I’ve seen their eyes gloss over with my literal explanations. So, to keep their attention, I turn to the power of metaphor. This is how I explain object centric process mining to my 11-year-old daughter.
Treasure hunters go on great adventures in search of valuable treasure. Their hunt consists of discovering and putting together many different clues to find the treasure. These clues are connected and hold the secrets to where the treasure is buried. Some examples of clues could be an old map, riddles, footprints or even hidden messages. All of the clues tell a connected story about what the treasure is and where it is hidden.
For treasure hunters, time is the enemy. When they start their hunt, they need to quickly find all of the clues before others do and they then need to examine each clue in detail. Unfortunately, with the tools and techniques of the past, they were only able to examine one clue at a time, and then they would try to figure out how they were all connected. They lost a lot of time doing this and as a result they never found some treasures, or ran out of money trying to find them.
But recently, a treasure finding technology company invented a “special magnifying glass” that can see and understand how all the clues are connected. This “magnifying glass” has special features that give treasure hunters the ability to quickly recreate exactly what happened and when it happened. This is the best way to find the treasure; they build their own map. This invention saves them lots of time and increases their chances of finding the treasure.
Treasure hunters can learn a lot from examining one clue, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. It would be silly for them to try to analyze clues separately without thinking about how they are all connected and about what happened in between the clues. Well, before the special magnifying glass was invented, treasure hunters could only really analyze clues separately from each other. They had a hard time trying to figure out the whole truth.
On every treasure hunt now, a hunter uses their new “special magnifying glass” to find the clues more quickly. It automatically measures the distance between all of the clues, calculates the importance of the clues, accurately describes how the clues are related and shows the timing of how they got there. The “special magnifying glass” brings a new science to the way treasures are found and makes treasure hunters way more accurate and fast at finding the treasure. Their “special magnifying glass” helps them to zoom out and zoom in order to see the treasure hunt from the angle of every clue. It helps them learn the whole truth about where the treasure is.
In the world of business, object-centric process mining is like this new and “special magnifying glass” that helps a treasure hunter find treasures more quickly than ever before. A business would use this magnifying glass to find the money saving opportunities that otherwise go undiscovered within their day to day work. They can also use it to make sure that any poor behaviour is corrected. For them the goal is keeping customers happy by finding ways to serve them better. This is their treasure.
So, let’s bring our story into the context of a business using object-centric process mining. The treasure hunt is the collection of business processes within the company. The clues are all of the objects and events that make up the execution of business processes, like a sales order, create production order, material, deliveries, purchase orders, customer, create invoice, send invoice, etc. The collection of a business’ processes are intrinsically related to each other and shape the experience of customers and employees.
With traditional process mining (a regular magnifying glass), an analyst (the treasure hunter) looks at one object in a process (a clue) and tries to understand it from that object’s perspective. Although this is valuable, it is incomplete because it may lead to missing other valuable insights (clues) that will help improve the process (find the treasure) more quickly and efficiently. The single perspective leads to an incomplete view of what happened. It’s a nuanced version of the truth.
Process mining practitioners understand this and naturally want to create more perspectives on their processes from a different object’s viewpoint. However, with traditional process mining, the business process data (the treasure map) needs to be reconstructed for every new perspective needed through the creation of system-specific event logs. Imagine recreating the treasure map 50 times just to analyze fifty clues! But, this is what happens in traditional process mining! One needs to take the same clues (objects and events) and rebuild the environment to form a different perspective every time. This takes much effort and adds increasing amounts of complexity to the process of understanding and improving business processes. The complexity makes finding process treasures more challenging.
To gain the most realistic view of what happened across all business processes, a business can turn to Celonis and object-centric process mining with Process Sphere™ (the new, “special magnifying glass”) as a way to look at their business from multiple perspectives. But here is the very special part that everyone should notice. They can do this from one single object centric model of the data (one treasure map). For every new perspective of analysis, the clues (objects and events) can be reused efficiently and endlessly to draw the most powerful conclusions that lead to performance gains (treasure found quickly).
After all, in today’s business climate, it’s not just about arriving at a positive outcome, it’s how quickly you can get there that makes all the difference!
So there you go. A simple story using metaphor to explain object-centric-process-mining to my 11-year-old daughter.