It has been an eventful last couple of years in the automation space with unparalleled developments in technological capabilities and a series of M&A activities. For Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in particular, the benefits achieved by automating repetitive, mundane tasks through RPA have helped it gain traction among technology developers and buyers alike globally. SAP was one of the first big enterprise tech players to enter the RPA market via acquisition of Contextor in 2018. This was followed by a chain of M&A activities, including two acquisitions carrying substantial weight by heavy hitters Microsoft, acquiring leading RPA vendor, Softomotive, and IBM, acquiring Brazilian RPA vendor, WDG Automation.
In one of our recently published blogs, we discussed the M&A trends in the RPA market, predicting that similar acquisitions would arise because of the demand for a holistic intelligent automation platform.
ServiceNow is the latest addition to this league of big enterprise tech players by acquiring India-based RPA vendor – Intellibot. The amount of the deal has not been disclosed, and the acquisition is expected to be completed in Q2 2021. While Intellibot will be integrated with the Now Platform to make RPA available natively, ServiceNow will continue to partner with other RPA vendors such as Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, and UiPath. This would provide ServiceNow users the flexibility to automate tasks through robots of other RPA vendors too.
What prompted ServiceNow to make this move?
As you may know, ServiceNow is a leading platform-as-a-service provider, with services that manage and streamline IT processes for large enterprises. It has invested heavily in AI/ML and automation technologies in recent years to augment the platform’s core capabilities, acquiring firms such as Element AI, Loom Systems, Passage AI, and Attivio. Some of the key reasons that could have led to the acquisition of Intellibot by ServiceNow are –
- A push for no-/low-code platforms: Restrictions imposed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have forced companies to work remotely in a distributed environment. Aligning to the market requirements, ServiceNow announced the addition of low-/no-code tools for creating workflows in its latest release, in March 2021. Availability of native RPA capability would further empower users to automate tasks without writing automation scripts, also reducing reliance on third-party RPA vendors
- Integration with legacy systems: As per the official press release by ServiceNow, a vast majority of its customers use a mix of legacy and modern enterprise applications. ServiceNow provides enterprise users the ability to create new micro-processes to connect with existing legacy applications. Integration of Intellibot will help extend the ability of ServiceNow in seamlessly automating tasks involving legacy applications
- Commitment for the Indian market: India is one of the fastest growing markets for ServiceNow and also hosts its second largest R&D center. This acquisition is a step forward in ServiceNow’s strategy to establish technology and data centers in India and make India its technology hub
What makes Intellibot standout?
Intellibot was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Hyderabad, India. In the past five years since its inception, it has acquired clients globally spanning North America, Europe, APAC, and MEA regions and serves enterprises across key verticals such as BFSI, manufacturing, and healthcare & pharma. Its vision is to develop a highly integrated intelligent automation platform comprising RPA, BPM, IDP, IVA, and AI services to help enterprises overcome the limitations of RPA.
Intellibot was identified as a Major Contender and a Star Performer in Everest Group’s 2020 RPA PEAK Matrix. The key strength areas that differentiate Intellibot from its peers as per our assessment are:
- Robotic Desktop Automation (RDA) / attended RPA capabilities: It provides a dedicated tool for RDA / attended RPA with key features such as a unified screen for desktop automation, background automation in a non-intrusive manner, and a built-in form designer to create UI for agent guidance
- Interoperability: The Intellibot platform provides pre-built connectors for the majority of key enterprise applications such as SAP, Oracle, Mainframe, and Siebel. The platform is developed on an open architecture to support extensibility
- AI services: Intellibot has invested in developing data extractors and offers its proprietary tool, Intellicapture, to extract information from structured and semi-structured documents such as invoices and forms with dynamic fields. It also offers Cognitive Modelling Platform (CMP) to enable enterprises to transform unstructured data into structured information
These capabilities align well with ServiceNow’s vision and, therefore, Intellibot appears to be a good fit for its requirements.
Implications for the RPA market
Two key areas where this announcement and the subsequent steps could have maximum impact are:
- Dynamics of vendor landscape: As the RPA market matures, it is gradually shifting toward consolidation. While the big three players – Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, and UiPath continue to command a large part of the RPA market share, the entry of ServiceNow can put a check to their negotiation power in future deals. It also provides an opportunity for promising RPA vendors to get themselves noticed by other big enterprise technology players who may want to acquire or partner with them. The recent series of acquisitions also reaffirm the trust shown by investors in the RPA technology and market
- Expanding user base of RPA: RPA technology would reach a much broader audience after its integration into the platforms offered by these big tech players. Microsoft recently announced that it was making its robotic desktop automation tool – Power Automate Desktop available for free for all Windows 10 users. Similarly, addition of Intellibot’s RPA capability to the Now platform would provide an opportunity for citizen developers to explore the possibilities of RPA. This would also help in educating the market on the potential of RPA technology and boost familiarity among citizen developers
The RPA market has entered a disruptive phase, garnering attention from all parts of the world. It won’t be surprising to see a few more acquisitions and investments happening in the RPA space in 2021. It would also be interesting to see whether the bigwigs of the technology world challenge the dominance of leading pure-play RPA vendors, or would the scope of their acquired RPA capabilities be limited to complementing their in-house technology platforms.
Check out our website for reports on the latest developments in the intelligent automation market.