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Celonis study: Almost Half of C-suite executives admit to launching transformation initiatives without a clear strategy

March 21, 2019

Eight out of ten executives admit they do not review internal processes before setting transformation goals

21th March 2019 (New York City, USA and Munich, Germany): New research released today by Celonis has found that despite significant pressure to embark on transformation initiatives that enable greater productivity, improve customer service and reduce costs, most businesses remain unclear on what they should focus on. The results showed that almost half of C-suite executives (45%) admit they do not know where to start when developing their transformation strategy. The Celonis study explores how businesses are approaching transformation programs, as well as the disconnect between leadership and those on the frontline.

The survey of over 1,000 C-suite executives and over 1,000 business analysts found that many organizations have wasted significant resources on business transformation initiatives that have been poorly planned. In fact, almost half (44%) of senior leaders believe that their business transformation has been a waste of time. With over a third (34%) of businesses having spent over $500,000 on transformation strategies in the last 12 months, many organizations run the risk of incurring huge costs with no return.

Top-down strategies are stunting results
Itโ€™s no wonder that transformation initiatives arenโ€™t hitting the mark, because business leaders are not using the expertise of those closest to running the organizationโ€™s operations. The results highlighted a disconnect between those developing transformation strategies and those carrying them out:

โ— Almost 4 in 10 (39%) business analysts said they are not regularly consulted to inform their organizationโ€™s transformation strategy.

โ— Well over half (58%) of business leaders admitted that frontline workers are only involved in transformation initiatives because middle management or consultants tell them which changes to make.

Businesses are skipping square one
In addition, the study demonstrated that most organizations are struggling with transformation initiatives because they are diving into execution before understanding what to change first. In fact, more than eight out of 10 (82%) C-suite executives admit they do not review their internal business processes to understand what needs to be prioritized when setting initial goals and KPIs for a transformation program. Perhaps this is because they donโ€™t know how to gain this visibility; almost two-thirds (65%) of leadership state they would feel more confident deploying their transformation strategy if they had a better picture of how their business is being run.

And this trend has trickled down to the entire organization. The research shows that almost two-fifths (39%) of analysts are not basing their work on internal processes when executing the transformation strategy given to them by senior personnel. Ultimately, this highlights that business leaders are investing in transformation initiatives because they think they should and not because they have identified a specific problem.

Look too far ahead and stumble in the present
Despite acknowledgement that an understanding of the here and now would be beneficial to inform transformation strategy, businesses are still jumping straight into tactics. For example, almost three quarters of C-suite executives cite AI/machine learning (73%) and automation (73%) as areas they want to maintain or increase investment in. In contrast, less than a third (33%) of senior leaders state that they plan to invest more in getting better visibility of their processes. But for those organizations that want to increase their investment in AI and innovation, understanding their current processes first could help them to work out which technologies would be most beneficial to their business.

โ€œTransformation strategies will inevitably be part of every organizationโ€™s operations, because no business can avoid adapting to the latest industry and technological trends,โ€ commented Alexander Rinke, co-founder and co-CEO, Celonis. โ€œHowever, they should be founded in concrete insights derived from processes that are actually happening within a company. Our research shows that too many businesses are rushing into costly initiatives that they do not necessarily even need to embark on. They are falling at the first hurdle; having a better understanding of inefficiencies in underlying business processes can help organizations invest wisely to provide the best possible service for their customers.โ€

โ€œFrom early stages in digital transformation to post transformation, organizations must understand how internal processes can shape their business strategy,โ€ added Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst, Ovum. โ€œQuantifying the business impact of existing or newly adapted processes, can help optimize the environment for customers. Ovumโ€™s annual global ICT Enterprise Insights research based on around 5000 enterprises reveals a consistent picture of struggle, as industry by industry around 80% have made little progress. While there are many reasons for this difficulty, a forensic examination on how work gets done, aided by intelligent process mining technology, would help quantify the consequences and drive consensus on what must change.โ€

To download the full report, go to

About Celonis
Celonis is the New York- and Munich-based leader in business transformation software, turning process insights into action with the process mining technology it pioneered. Its Intelligent Business Cloud allows organizations to rapidly understand and improve the operational backbone of their business. Companies around the world including Siemens, GM, 3M, Airbus and Vodafone rely on Celonis technology to guide action and drive change to business processes, resulting in millions of dollars saved and an improved experience for their customers.

About this research
Celonis commissioned research to explore how businesses were managing their transformation strategies and what the obstacles were to success. A survey of 1,009 business analysts and 1,002 C-level executives in companies with over 500 employees in the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands was conducted by Opinion Matters in January 2019.

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Maria Scurry
Vice President Global Communications
Celonis Inc | 114 W 41st street, Floor 16 | New York, NY 10036
M: 781-366-7617

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