Magazine Store

50 Smartest Companies Of The Year 2018

Enabling the Revolution: Signavio Delivers Global Customers a Highly Responsive System to Support Change in the Digital Age


“Signavio Business Transformation Suite empowers organizations to reimagine, optimize, and reinvent themselves from an operational perspective, and translate goals into workable strategies”: Dr. Gero Decker

Operational excellence is no longer the exception; it’s the expectation from consumers. To remain competitive in your market, you must take a determined and strategic look at your business and make changes where appropriate.

With over 1 million users in over 1,000 companies worldwide, Signavio has rapidly established itself as a leading provider of cloud-based process modeling and management systems. Signavio’s innovative Business Transformation Suite, including the Stevie Award-winning Signavio Process Intelligence, was borne out of a glaring need for a more collaborative and accessible approach to process management.

Signavio GmbH was founded in 2009 by four students at the Hasso-Plattner Institute in Germany, and delivered the first entirely web-based collaborative BPM software. Signavio harnesses the wisdom of the crowd and unlocks the knowledge of your team for rapid success. By taking a collaborative approach to transformation, organizations increase the chance of making process part of their DNA – often seen as the Holy Grail of business success.

Signavio’s own success is built on the Business Transformation Suite, comprising of Signavio Process Manager, Signavio Workflow Accelerator, and Signavio Process Intelligence. The Suite also features the Signavio Collaboration Hub component.

Signavio is headquartered in Berlin, Germany, with additional offices in France, Switzerland, UK, Australia, America, and Singapore. Signavio serves customers around the globe and across all industries.

We caught up with Dr. Gero Decker, Signavio Co-founder & CEO.

Why was the company set up? How did you select the vertical and decide to be a part of the global platform?

Before establishing Signavio, I worked as a Business Process Management consultant. I was curious why certain initiatives failed, while others became incredibly successful. As founders, we learned that the primary differentiator was the level of engagement within organizations. Companies that involved many people saw quicker results and significantly better change acceptance. Signavio was about reinventing BPM software from a collaborative perspective.

Tell us about the first product you launched.

Signavio Process Manager was the world’s first cloud-based process modeling platform. It was specially tuned for collaboration. There were many sophisticated modeling tools on the market that offered far more functionality, but they were all desktop-based for specialist users. Signavio delivered our message, ‘BPM for Everyone’.

How successful was your first project roll out? Share the experience.

We were privileged to launch from an academic Open Source project. So the first technical prototype was there before we set up the company. We were lucky enough to sign a large insurance company very early on, and we merely re-wrote much of our existing code based on the customer’s requirements.

Why have you expanded the company and its products/features over the years?

We soon realized that our ‘BPM for Everyone’ ethos resonated with large organizations. It also quickly captured the attention of mid-sized companies investing in BPM software for the first time, too. We got lucky because Signavio gatecrashed an underserved market. We then focused on serving a particular need exceptionally well, in our case that of collaboration, and with the growth of our customer base we quickly expanded our product features.

What challenges did you face in the initial years? What can peers learn from you?

The first years are always tough. In our case, people were very interested in our product, but hardly anyone was buying. Only later did we discover that this was primarily due to 2009’s frozen IT budgets, which stagnated following the recession. Once companies were ready to invest in software again, we leveraged the wave. The lesson learned – be persistent and don’t give up too soon. Use this time to understand customers’ needs and to build lasting customer-centric relationships.

What are the factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, and why?

As a software company, we strive to discover what’s possible and care greatly about product innovation and quality. But even more importantly, Signavio cares about people. This not only includes how we work together as a team but how we interact with our customers. We were recently ranked as the second best company to work for in Berlin, and our employees give their best to make our customers successful. Also, two years ago, Summit Partners became a minority shareholder because we did not have the experience to run a 100+ person company. And additionally, we are very fortunate to have Léo Apotheker as our Chairman.

What are the reasons for:

Your product popularity – We focus on building a great product first and think about market success afterwards. ‘Product’ not only means features and functionality but also includes how we service it, and the level of thought leadership and guidance we provide around it.

Your continued growth as an organization – The key ingredients are to stay hungry and to set goals. Not unrealistic goals, but ambitious goals achievable by working smart and hard. ‘Fail forward’ was a popular theme a couple of years ago. But getting it right the first time is even better.

Do you have any new products ready for roll out?

Our newest addition to the product family is Signavio Process Intelligence. The product is an exciting part of our Suite as it turns raw data into actionable process insights. It reengineers the process, provides analytics and empowers businesses to quantify the impact of process change.

“It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it.” - Do you agree?

I read an interesting article the other day. Somebody asked a group of successful founders how they’d managed it. And the general response was: “Because we’ve stuck around for long enough.” And I can relate to that! From the outside, it seems that success comes overnight, but the truth is very different. As a leader, your most important task is to learn and grow from challenges.

How do you and your company contribute to the global IT platform and society at large?

Our products help companies run better, which can mean reducing the carbon footprint, helping people in need, making communities safer, and bringing innovative products to market faster. We are the ‘how’ behind the ‘wow’, if you will.

What drives/inspires you to excel in your field of business?

Right now, with 250+ employees and thousands of users, it still feels like we’re learning. Our ambition is to build one of the most successful enterprise software companies in the world. And I think we have the potential to get there.

What helped you to establish this company?

I think we started with the love for technology and the desire to build a fantastic product. This is still true today. But for me, it is now also about creating a place where people thrive. Giving them the right environment to do that is a rewarding aspect for me.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

There is still plenty of room for Signavio to grow, and for each of us individually, too. Over the past couple of years, we have regularly seen growth rates of between 60-90 percent per annum. There is no reason why this will not continue. Our products are a catalyst for customer success, and we must amplify our message.

Work Smart and Dream Big

As Co-founder and CEO, Dr. Gero Decker is responsible for Signavio’s overall strategic direction. He is a Business Process Management expert and passionate about product innovation. Before creating Signavio, he worked for SAP and McKinsey. Gero holds a Ph.D. in Business Process Management from Hasso-Plattner Institute.

“Signavio empowers next-generation Business Process Management and Business Transformation.”