Tag: Automation Vendors

A New RPA Unicorn is Born | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

UiPath recently made history by becoming the first Romanian RPA unicorn, thanks to $153 million Series B funding provided by a group of investment firms led by Accel and including CapitalG and Kleiner Perkins. This is the largest round of funding to date in the RPA market, leading to a valuation of over $1bn for UiPath – a unicorn. It is good news for all vendors and buyers as well.

What it means for the RPA market

Other examples of increased investment in the RPA industry include Blue Prism raising £70m ($100m) in funding through new share issuance in January 2018 and WorkFusion raising $35m in Series D financing in January 17.

The fact that investors are willing to put in these huge sums of money is great news for the industry for both buyers and vendors.

What it means for enterprises and RPA

  • This is an endorsement of not only UiPath but RPA as whole by the cream of Silicon Valley investment firms
  • These and other RPA investors will have completed many rounds of due diligence with the vendors, and in the process put a big lens on each software product
  • That RPA is here to stay – that the investors will be doing their best to make sure that the vendors and the platforms perform, to protect their investments
  • That there will be significant investment in enhancing the products to keep ahead in this very competitive market

What it means for other RPA vendors

For other RPA vendors, this may seem like a huge competitive threat but it also means that:

  • Other investment firms will be looking for similar deals. Consequently, we will see rising interest in other vendors and there are an increasing number. We have conducted in-depth assessments of 18 RPA vendors in the past six months and will be publishing our results very soon:
  • With both Blue Prism and UiPath now valued over $1bn, any RPA vendor thinking of issuing public shares will have a very strong backdrop for the IPO
  • It is great for the partners of RPA vendors, particularly technology partners that are likely see more resources thrown at their integrations with the RPA platforms

What could happen next in RPA

Organic or inorganic growth: We now have several RPA companies that are flush with cash; most were already able to operate in a cash-positive manner, so these funds provide for accelerated investments. Some have had the money for longer than others and have invested in organic growth, e.g., opening new offices and hiring more staff. This is a path that UiPath, Blue Prism and WorkFusion have taken already. Expect more announcements from some of them on this front. For UiPath, given that CapitalG is an investor, we expect to see much more integration with Google AI/ML technology.

Then there is the inorganic growth option – to acquire complementary capabilities. This could be cognitive or other technologies to enhance the core RPA capabilities or growing their professional services to accelerate adoption/training. We believe this is highly likely.

Accelerated RPA, Automation-as-a-Service and Other Trends in RPA Technology | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The RPA technology landscape is rapidly evolving but nothing highlights the changes more than assessing leading software products side by side and comparing the results to the previous year. That is exactly what we have been doing at Everest Group over the past few months, as part of the research for the latest RPA Virtual Worker Technology Assessment FIT MatrixTM report.

We have collected detailed information from 10 leading RPA vendors, including their product features, deployment options, go-to-market strategies, global partnerships, and market presence. We have interviewed them and their clients, as well as had their products demonstrated to us in a standardized way to compare and contrast them.

Our latest findings will be published in full in December, including updated detailed profiles of each of the technology vendors that took part in the report. In the meantime, our interim findings paint an interesting picture of:

  • Increasing depth and richness of functionality
  • More deployment and pricing options
  • The emergence of function-focused or knowledge-based automation that accelerates automation – accelerated RPA

Increasing depth and richness of functionality
There is no doubt that the vendors are learning from each other and from our last report (Service Delivery Automation (SDA) – The Story Beyond Marketing Messages and an Assessment of SDA Tools) to enhance their product features. Examples of the latest batch of enhancements include but are not limited to:

  • Features to ensure that robot connectivity through the UI is maintained (e.g., NICE’s Connectivity Watcher)
  • Better robot controls such as priority work re-allocation to robots in real time ( e.g., Thoughtonomy and WorkFusion)
  • Introduction of enhanced robot performance analytics including smart searches (UiPath) and real-time business intelligence from robot-powered process data (e.g., Automation Anywhere, and Softmotive ProcessRobot)
  • Ability to dynamically scale bots to instantly match demand from the systems that the processes run on (e.g., Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, Thoughtonomy, WorkFusion)

The AI in the Robot
Another point to note is the use of different grades of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by robotic automation vendors for different purposes. For example, Kryon Systems’ Leo has visual integration powered by intelligent techniques and advanced pattern matching algorithms.

Automation Anywhere is leveraging machine learning and natural language processing features for handling unstructured data, consequently expanding the range of processes that it can automate.

More deployment and pricing options
More vendors have made their software available on the cloud and on more public clouds, for example, on Azure and AWS.
There are also more deployment options such as Automation-as-a-Service offered in a variety of flavours from automating tasks to processes end-to-end.

We are also seeing more and more usage and utility-based pricing options. Kofax, for example, has come up with a server licensing model for Kapow RPA based on usage levels that allows organizations to start small and control the number of robots that can be executed simultaneously.

Accelerated RPA
Another development is the emergence of function-focused or knowledge-based automation that accelerates automation. This type of accelerated RPA comes with the knowledge of the process that is being automated.
At the entry level end of the spectrum to this group are vendors that provide libraries of re-usable industry-based automations, for example, for the financial services sector.

At the more sophisticated end of the spectrum is Redwood Software that offers automation of the whole financial close process as well as other back-office functions. The software comes with the knowledge of the process and the underlying ERP system in an existing function-based process model that can be customized for clients. The focus is on the process (not the user) to directly automate all the ERP-based steps, and that, within the typical end-to-end process, e.g. the financial close.

This is certainly a dynamic and evolving market. Keep up with us to keep up with it.

Look out for our full report and vendor profiles to be published in the coming weeks.

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