The RPA space has seen dramatic market expansion in the last 12 months, and nowhere is this better encapsulated than in the success of RPA’s ‘big three’ software companies – UiPath, Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere. AA hit the headlines this month when it announced $250 million in series A funding (it’s now valued at around $1.8bn), but we’ve also seen Blue Prism go public on the London Stock Exchange, and UiPath receive $150m in series B funding to become the first ‘unicorn’ company to come out of Romania in the process.
It’s a really exciting time, and Phil Fersht, writing for Horses for Sources, has suggested that AA’s latest funding has effectively locked up the RPA market for the ‘Big Three’ for the foreseeable future. In his article, Phil reflects on how we’re already starting to see RPA as a commodity, settling on the three leading providers as RPA platforms of choice:
“Commoditization is good for bots […] and we already have very loyal followings for AA, Blue Prism and UiPath. The tech needs to be simple, low-code and easy to install, scalable and manageable. No-one wants highly customized solutions these days, so […] do not confuse the devaluation of commoditization with the value of familiarization. The commoditization of RPA breeds familiarity - and familiarity breeds innovation. The market is already established.”
Furthermore, Mihir Shukla, co-founder and CEO of Automation Anywhere, told CNBC Make It that it's a sign that automation has reached a tipping point.
“The demand for automation is growing quickly. […] The digital native companies — the likes of Google and Uber and Netflix and Amazon and others — have created a new standard of instant customer gratification. And now we expect it from every company that we are a customer of.” he said.
The success story of each of the ‘Big Three’ is worth looking at. It might help us understand where they, and the market, are heading in the next few years. After all, the global market for RPA Software and Services will reach $898 million in 2018 and is expected to grow to $2.2 billion by 2021.
In 2017, UiPath’s enterprise customer base grew from less than 100 customers to more than 700, resulting in an eight-fold growth in annual recurring revenue. In the process they became Romania’s first ‘unicorn’, valued at $1.1bn after a second round of funding in March ’18 brought in $150 million dollars.
Blue Prism has enjoyed similar success, closing the FY2017 with 609 new software deals which included 324 new enterprise customers globally, bringing their client base to 500+.
Automation Anywhere saw growth too: total revenue and customer revenue grew 100 percent and 150 percent year-over-year, respectively, and now it boasts nearly 1000 customers.
The funding story
While AA has just revealed a $250m series A score, the track record of the other two ‘Big Three’ players suggests there could be an awful lot more to come. UiPath took in $30m in their 2017 April series A funding; a year later they secured $153m and hit the $1bn valuation. Blue Prism raised $2.4m way back in December 2015, and grew to achieve $53m post-IPO Equity funding in January this year. Last month they were valued at $1.6bn.
The next steps – intelligent automation through RSO
Phil Fersht concludes his HfS piece by saying:
“So we have some clarity for now with three dominant solutions, and enterprises can invest more in learning these tools with more certainty and peace of mind […] let's hope these firms will wisely invest in taking their products into the world of intelligent bots…”
It’s a pivotal point that segues nicely into the value delivered by Robotic Service Orchestration (RSO).
RSO platforms help businesses understand where their complexities lie and what will be involved in a proposed automation initiative. This clarity of intelligent automation means decision makers can see whether an automation programme will deliver more value than the sum of its parts.
In addition, because RSO gives you an end-to-end view of how your human and digital workforces interact within your IT landscape, businesses can move past what is immediately achievable to that which delivers long-term value for the organisation.