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BMW + Celonis

“Almost every car that leaves BMW has been touched by Celonis.”

Dr. Patrick Lechner, Head of Process Mining, BMW
Industry - Automotive Process - Production Region - Europe
Celonis use cases across business units
Celonis data models across BMW
Process automations

Since starting their Celonis journey in 2016, car manufacturing titan BMW has used Process Intelligence to support data-driven, democratized digital transformation from the factory floor to the Finance department — giving them a competitive edge as they take on market disruption.

BMW’s challenge: Keeping a century-old global giant agile and innovative

Though it’s one of the world’s most recognizable luxury names, centenarian behemoth BMW doesn’t believe in complacency — for good reason.

“BMW is operating in a VUCA world,” said Dr. Patrick Lechner, Head of Process Mining at BMW, during his Digitalization for Everyone session at Celosphere 2023. Like much of the business world, they grapple with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity on many fronts.

The auto-manufacturing industry is quickly evolving. EVs, autonomous driving, and IoT-connected cars have reset buyer expectations, and manufacturers face challenges like rising energy costs and material shortages. New brands are also entering the field, and their more compact headcounts and histories lend an advantage: processes that are efficient and responsive, helping them nip at established makers’ heels.

To maintain (and grow) market share, foster innovation, and uphold a long legacy of excellence, BMW knew company-wide digital transformation was key — and that their processes were their greatest lever for value and fastest lever for change

Enter Celonis. 

BMW’s mission: Digital transformation through employee enablement

BMW is building world-class processes at every level of their organization. Their three-pronged digital transformation mission is to enable all employees to: 

  • Make data-driven decisions;

  • Automate their most repetitive tasks;

  • And digitalize processes whenever possible.

“All three are really crucial for success, and we do this using integrated platforms,” said Lechner, citing Celonis Process Intelligence — powered by process mining and AI — as the foundation for BMW’s suite of digital tools. Using Celonis, BMW is able to not only collect and analyze their data — they can use Celonis’ ever-advancing process platform to understand their business using a digital twin, giving their teams a common language for how their business is running and making it easier to find and capture value. 

“Celonis brings us a lot of transparency and offers us agility and speed, so we get much faster in reacting and working with processes.”

Dr. Patrick Lechner, Head of Process Mining, BMW

BMW’s Celonis Journey: Turning process into success with Citizen Developers

  • 2016: Following the proven change management tactic of starting small, BMW launched process mining with two proof-of-concepts in a Munich plant. 

  • 2017: Celonis process mining was a hit, and it was time to expand. Lechner realized that process optimization worked better and faster when end users contributed, so BMW jump-started their process-driven digital transformation by making process users into Citizen Developers. These aretech-savvy experts in their own business areas using low-code/no-code tools to evaluate processes, identify opportunities for automation and digitalization, and monitor adherence, often via apps they’ve created to suit their specific departmental needs.

  • 2018: The Citizen Developer program grew large enough to spawn a process Center of Excellence (CoE), which fosters and monitors process-driven digital transformation. 

  • 2021 and beyond: Using Celonis Process Intelligence in the cloud and process tools like Action Flows, alerts, and user-friendly dashboards, BMW’s CoE and Citizen Developers are pushing processes to even higher performance levels. 

“We want to enhance innovation, and you can really only enhance innovation if you allow more people to take part in the innovation.”

Dr. Patrick Lechner, Head of Process Mining, BMW

Citizen Development is key for speed and agility, which both depend on embracing innovation, said Lechner. By centering innovation around actual user needs from the start, innovation naturally becomes more efficient. This user-first approach reduces burdens on IT staff, cuts costs, and increases compliance and transparency. 

Results: Driving an ongoing cycle of data-informed improvement

“Almost every car that leaves BMW has been touched by Celonis,” said Lechner.  Beyond the production floor, Citizen Developers are transforming almost all of BMW’s business areas, including particularly successful use cases in:  

  • Purchasing & Finance

  • Customer Brand & Sales

  • HR

  • BMW’s banking wing, operating within “very tough” regulatory requirements, per Lechner. 

Overall, there are 450+ data models across BMW supporting as many as 200 use cases. Celonis has helped Citizen Developers identify opportunities and implement more than 1,100 business process automations. Celonis has also supported the development of more than 350 low-code/no-code apps within 2 years. 

BMW’s cyclical approach keeps digital transformation ongoing. Even after an opportunity has been identified and changes implemented, Celonis is used to monitor adoption and compliance — protecting progress and often leading to even more incremental gains over time. 

“Turning process into success is not a one-way street. It’s really a circle of improvement.” 

Dr. Patrick Lechner, Head of Process Mining, BMW

BMW’s vision: Growing the Celonis user base and embracing new digital tools

Lechner sees upticks in adoption and innovation as intertwined goals for the future of process optimization and digital transformation at BMW.

To support wider adoption, Lechner’s Process team is creating interest in Celonis and their transformation suite through a massive internal marketing and training program. They’re also hoping partners will help them build cross-company process intelligence. “It’s important to look together with our suppliers, with our dealers, to improve our processes overall,” Lechner said. “We can use the data to master this VUCA world together.” 

On the innovation front, BMW is excited about insights from object-centric process mining, which will be rolled out more widely soon. BMW also hopes to put the conversational capabilities of AI large language models (LLMs) to work, improving training, self-service, and user experience within Celonis and their other tools. 

To facilitate all of this, BMW’s CoE is here to stay, and has even sprouted offshoots: Centers of Competence (CoCs), bringing new innovations to specific business areas, and a Delivery Factory, letting departments order Celonis-enabled services from any part of the company. 

“When we use process mining, it becomes a new VUCA world:  Visibility, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility…we can react faster to the challenges we are facing. I think this is really, really crucial for the success of a company like BMW.”

Dr. Patrick Lechner, Head of Process Mining, BMW

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