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A Vision for Camunda: First Impressions from Berlin 2024

As a new employee of Camunda, Nik Hewitt shares his first impressions of the opportunities for process orchestration and of CamundaCon 2024
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Arriving from Ireland the previous evening, CamundaCon 2024 in Berlin was my first day as an employee of Camunda and the company’s largest community event to date. It was, without a doubt, the best possible introduction to the organization, to process orchestration as a discipline, and to our passionate user community.

Having found my pass and a splendid cup of coffee, I made my way to the first keynote of the conference, given by co-founder and CEO Jakob Freund, to find out what Camunda was all about. If, like me, you are new to Camunda and process orchestration, I heartily recommend giving it a watch—it’s available here on demand.

Camundacon-2024-berlin-opening-keynote

Camunda boasts hundreds of high-profile customers and thousands of users globally, participating in a wide cross-section of global events like this. In his opening, Jakob kindly attributed the rapid business and community growth to the company’s partners and the dedicated Camunda team.

The rise of process orchestration

Jakob shifted focus to the core topic, process orchestration, describing it as a movement that “is gaining traction and is in its nascent stage.” Looking around at the packed auditorium of attentive practitioners, this felt like an understatement.

Process orchestration, I soon learned, is “the automated coordination and management of complex business processes across various systems, applications, and people to ensure their efficient and seamless execution.”

Orchestration is the “How”; Automation is the “what”—which means that in order to automate, you must orchestrate.

The concept was further elaborated upon through insights from retired Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz, who has extensively tracked market trends in automation and has recently written a forward for Bernd Ruecker (co-founder and Chief Technologist at Camunda) and process orchestration strategist Leon Strauch’s new book, “Enterprise Process Orchestration.” Koplowitz observed that the interest in core automation topics like Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN, the international industry standard for digital process modeling) has surged in recent years due to pressing business needs, customer expectations, and the obvious advantages of process automation and orchestration—improved efficiency, enhanced accuracy, reduced operational costs, and better coordination across complex workflows.

Pressures driving automation

Jakob’s presentation outlined three main pressures driving the need for broad-scale automation adoption:

  • Changing customer expectations: As customers, we demand simple, fast, and accessible services and products anytime and anywhere.
  • Technical disruptions: Innovations like AI present both opportunities and threats, requiring organizations to act swiftly.
  • Legacy systems: Over the years, established organizations have accumulated a litany of challenges with accumulated technical debt.

To alleviate these pressures, organizations need to take a comprehensive approach to automation, leveraging the flexibility, transparency, and efficiency that integrated, end-to-end process orchestration provides, as opposed to the siloed, local automation solutions that can create automation traps and cause more problems than they solve. This fragmented approach has created a value ceiling that many organizations struggle to surpass. Enter Camunda, with over a decade’s experience in solving the orchestration problem, to provide the solution.

Process orchestration as a solution

Jakob went on to introduce process orchestration and its ability to tame complexity as the answer to these challenges. By integrating local automation solutions along the customer journey, organizations can provide a seamless experience while achieving scale efficiencies. Process orchestration doesn’t eliminate complexity but manages it effectively, enabling genuine transformational value generation.

“Process orchestration is critical to manage end-to-end customer journeys and to provide consistency of experience to the human workforce.” 

Gartner

As a somewhat venerable and (some may say) jaded tech writer, I was looking for the return on investment (ROI), and so, no doubt, is anyone considering process orchestration adoption.

Here are ten significant advantages that I learned before lunch:

  1. Increased efficiency
    During Jakob’s keynote, one of the standout points was how Camunda (via broad-scale automation and orchestration) enables businesses to enhance efficiency across the board. As someone who has repeatedly seen the bottlenecks caused by inefficient processes, I find the concept of streamlining operations, eliminating redundant steps, and optimizing workflows inspiring. I can see the genuine value. This means faster turnaround times and better use of people and assets, which is crucial for staying competitive.
  2. Cost reduction
    The cost-saving potential of Camunda’s platform is substantial. Businesses can reduce operational costs by automating repetitive tasks and integrating various systems. This isn’t just about cutting corners; it’s about reallocating resources to more strategic initiatives and driving innovation and growth. According to Forrester’s Total Economic Impact™ of Camunda For Enterprises study, considering the value, costs, and risks of transitioning to Camunda, organizations can see a
    -408% ROI,
    -$112.1M in total net savings,
    -$57.8M in profits from increased customer satisfaction, and
    -$15M in savings
    from improved process quality. In addition to the numbers—and I do love some solid quotable numbers—the emphasis on reducing technical debt and legacy system inefficiencies particularly resonated with me. Coming from a background in cybersecurity, where this is a constant concern for organizations, I can see how this aligns with modern business needs.
  3. Improved accuracy
    One of the most compelling aspects of Camunda’s platform is its ability to enhance accuracy through orchestration. Human errors in manual processes can be costly and detrimental. With Camunda, businesses can guarantee consistency and precision, which is especially important in industries where compliance and data integrity are critical. This improvement in accuracy translates to better service quality and reliability. What’s not to love?
  4. Scalability
    Jakob highlighted Camunda’s cloud-native architecture, which dramatically supports scalability. This is a game-changer for businesses looking to grow and adapt quickly. Camunda can handle everything from small-scale implementations to enterprise-level deployments. The ability to scale operations without being bogged down by infrastructure limitations means organizations can respond to market demands and opportunities more effectively.
  5. Enhanced compliance
    Coming from cybersecurity, as I do, I know compliance is a major concern for many industries, and Camunda’s platform offers a solid solution to manage regulatory requirements. Process orchestration ensures visibility where all steps in a workflow are documented and auditable, providing transparency and control. This mitigates risks and builds trust with stakeholders, knowing that the business adheres to stringent standards.
  6. Better customer experience 
    At the heart of process orchestration often lies the goal of improving customer experiences. Businesses can meet and exceed customer expectations by providing a seamless and responsive service. The ability to automate and optimize customer-facing processes means faster response times, personalized interactions, and overall better satisfaction. As a marketer and a modern consumer, I know that consideration of the customer experience must be a part of every interaction, with each one presenting an opportunity to either strengthen or weaken the bond between the company and the customer. Delivering a good customer experience involves forming a relationship by understanding and addressing what people want, need, value, and through offering minimal friction to user success.
  7. Resource optimization
    Optimizing resources is crucial for any modern business, and by automating routine tasks, employees can focus on higher-value activities. This boosts productivity and enhances job satisfaction, as employees can engage in more meaningful work. I recommend the day two presentation (available on demand) by Nicki Todd (SVP Technology, First America) for more insight into how organizations benefit from optimizing resources effectively through process orchestration.
  8. Data-driven insights
    Knowledge is power, and data is the resource that fuels that power. Camunda’s platform leverages data to drive insights and decision-making. This data provides valuable metrics that can be used to continuously improve processes. A data-driven approach means that organizations can adapt and refine their operations based on real-time information, inevitably leading to more informed and strategic choices.
  9. Agility and flexibility
    In any fast-paced business environment, agility is critical. Camunda’s process orchestration provides the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions quickly. Whether it’s integrating new technologies or responding to shifts in the market, the platform supports rapid adjustments without any significant downtime. This agility is vital for maintaining a competitive edge.
  10. Employee satisfaction
    Finally, Camunda’s platform contributes to higher employee satisfaction by removing mundane tasks and empowering staff to focus on creative and strategic work. The platform’s intuitive nature means that employees can easily interact with and manage processes, reducing frustration and increasing engagement. As someone who’s sat on several DE&I councils, particularly as an advocate for mental health in the workplace, I find it encouraging to see technology that supports a more fulfilling work environment. A happy workforce is a productive workforce.

For further information on the ROI of process orchestration, the State of Process Orchestration 2024 report offers some compelling numbers, where 91% of respondents reported business growth directly attributed to process automation in 2023.

Technical aspects of process orchestration

Jakob’s presentation also began to explore the technical components required for successful process orchestration:

  • Advanced workflow patterns: These are essential for handling complex processes and ensuring reliable automation.
  • Alignment of business and IT: Utilizing BPMN and DMN helps bridge the gap between business and IT, facilitating better communication and collaboration.
  • Scalable and reliable automation: The ability to automate processes reliably at scale is business crucial for future-proofing organizations.

Naturally, Camunda incorporates these elements, offering what many in the audience consider the de facto process orchestration solution. Jakob further highlighted the event-driven state persistence of Camunda’s execution engine, enabling high scalability and reliability.

Recognition and market position

Camunda’s strategic approach and innovation in process orchestration have earned it recognition as a strong performer in Forrester’s Digital Process Automation (DPA) wave. Camunda focuses on being a composable automation platform that integrates well with other technologies. The company’s obvious clear vision, comprehensive roadmaps, and strong strategy are noted by Forrester as critical differentiators. You can compare Camunda with the alternatives here.

In my experience, the concept of process orchestration, which is central to Camunda’s offering, isn’t just a trend but a fundamental shift in how businesses operate. It’s clear that the rise of process orchestration has just begun, and I find myself genuinely excited to see and contribute to its growth.

Jakob welcomed Paul Vincent, former Gartner Senior Director focused on hyperautomation platforms, to the stage to speak to the increased interest in business orchestration and automation, or “process choreography” as he termed it, and its rise in financial services and other sectors. Paul spoke about the democratization of process, with BPMN standards, as a business and IT enabler. He particularly highlighted Camunda’s cloud-native process engine and Decision Model and Notation (DMN) support as differentiators in the marketplace.

Camunda’s cloud-native workflow engine works to increase speed, scalability, and security without the hassle of complex infrastructure. It scales easily by adding cluster nodes, meaning it can handle unlimited transactions with low latency. It offers enterprise-grade availability with fail-over architecture and geo-replication across data centers.

DMN is an Object Management Group (
OMG) standard widely adopted across industries to design automated decision models. It provides a common language for aligning business and IT on repeatable business rules, enhancing efficiency, reducing human error, and ensuring decision model consistency across the organization.

AI and process orchestration

Jakob went on to further discuss “hyperautomation,” a growing business strategy that organizations use to evaluate and automate their processes, coordinating the use of various automation technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), and others, to run with maximum efficiency and minimal human intervention.

The presentation further touched on the role of AI in process orchestration. “AI serves as the brain, while process orchestration acts as the arms and hands,” operationalizing AI within organizations. Camunda integrates AI into its platform, offering Connectors for technologies like OpenAI and embedding AI in various components to enhance automation capabilities, “not just for the sake of it” but offering genuine practical value.

Customer success stories

Jakob invited representatives from two organizations, GLS and First American, to share their success stories with Camunda.

GLS Group: The GLS Group is a major parcel service provider in Europe, also operating in Canada and the USA, serving over 40 countries for reliable global delivery. Florian Rang, director of product management from GLS, explained how Camunda has transformed their parcel delivery process. By connecting core data to Camunda, GLS can now process millions of parcels daily, offering real-time tracking and notifications to customers. This has significantly reduced the time to implement changes from weeks to months to just days.

Further insight from the team at GLS  is available in the CamundCon “Orchestrating realtime data and pushing the limits: A journey in logistics” presentation with Markus Siem and Lutz Kerwien, available on demand.

First American: First American Financial Corporation is a U.S. company providing title insurance and settlement services for real estate and mortgage industries. Nikki Todd, SVP of Technology at First American, discussed how Camunda has enabled them to sunset legacy technologies and streamline their mortgage lending processes. With Camunda, they can quickly onboard new lenders and data sources, and the business leaders can implement changes almost in realtime without requiring engineering involvement.

Nikki delves into this further in her “Maestro! One story of conducting business through orchestration” presentation, discussing how First American leveraged Camunda to orchestrate business processes and deliver configurable solutions to its customers, available on demand.

Lasting impressions

The presentation concluded with the vision of Camunda as an integrated, composable, and intelligent universal orchestration platform. Jakob emphasized that AI will be increasingly embedded throughout the platform, providing comprehensive orchestration solutions to meet evolving business needs. The company’s future direction involves expanding the scope of process orchestration and leveraging AI to enhance decision-making and operational efficiency.

Overall, I was left with the lasting impression of Camunda’s commitment to driving innovation in process orchestration, supporting businesses in navigating the complexities of their modern orchestration needs and achieving real transformational value.

With the buffet calling, I genuinely felt that accepting my new role with Camunda had been the right thing to do. At CamundaCon, I met with technologists, Camunda practitioners, C-suite evangelists, and industry experts from a broad cross-section of sectors. Immersing myself in this new discipline will be both interesting and rewarding, and process orchestration will give me plenty to write about for many years to come. Camunda is going places, and even after the first hour, I’m glad I’m along for the ride.

If you’d like to know more about our upcoming CamundaCon events in New York and Amsterdam, or would like to attend remotely, you can find out more at CamundaCon.com.

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