Appian Makes A Play For RPA (Robotic Process Automation)

Appian website


This week, Appian announced the first acquisition in its 20-year history. It was for a startup based in Spain called Jidoka. The company is the developer of a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform that is ranked # 1 by Gartner Peer Insights.

Appian is a leader in business process management (BPM) and low-code markets. This technology enables the rapid development of enterprise-class applications, which has been critical to digital transformation.

“Our customers have asked about RPA,” said Michael Beckley, CTO and founder of Appian. “You want a full-stack automation platform.”

Jidoka certainly offered some unique advantages. And perhaps most importantly, it is built on a Java code base that is unique in the RPA industry (many of the systems are based on Microsoft’s .Net). “Because of our similar technology infrastructures, we were able to integrate Jidoka using a Docker container,” said Beckley.

The result is that Appian can provide full orchestration of workers, bots, and AI (Artificial Intelligence). This is supported by case management, governance, security, and even seamless integration with key RPA systems like Blue Prism and UiPath.

“Appian bought one of the smallest RPA players, but that makes sense,” said Neil Ward-Dutton, IDC’s VP of AI and Intelligent Process Automation for European Practices. “The biggest players are too expensive and many of the medium-sized players have many long-established customers and technologies that would make it difficult to integrate into Appian’s business. Appian has also started positioning itself as a provider of end-to-end platforms for business automation for about a year now, and this acquisition really adds to its credibility here. But sailing is not going to be easy and Appian is busy. The company wants to keep its existing partnerships with Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath, for example, but it won’t be easy. “

What does the deal then mean for the industry? Well, first of all, this is not about an attempt by Appian to take on RPA providers. Most of the Jidoka technology will be available on the Appian platform when customers choose to use it.

However, still expect some ramifications in the industry.

“It will be interesting to see how the RPA players develop,” said Dr. Gero Decker, CEO and founder of Signavio. “If I were them, I would buy a low-code player to complement their offerings. As an established and well-known player for low-code, this certainly enables Appian to take advantage of the currently high demand and the huge lead pool for RPA – and then to offer customers more options than others in the industry can offer.

Note that even today, RPA is still the fastest category of software – with few signs of slowing down. According to Forrester, the market is expected to reach $ 12 billion by 2023.

There will likely be more deals too. “Pega, SAP and Nintex have all made acquisitions in the RPA space to complement their existing offerings, and Microsoft recently announced a foray into RPA as part of the Power Platform,” said Ryan Duguid, Chief of Evangelism and Advanced Technology at Nintex. “I expect more consolidation of this nature from process management leaders, especially those with low-to-no-code offerings, and I also expect the“ big three ”RPA vendors – UIPath, Automation Anywhere, and Blue Prism – take steps to counter this trend by acquiring smaller BPM players. “

Tom (@ttaulli) is the author of Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction and The Robotic Process Automation Handbook: A Guide to Implementing RPA Systems.

July 20, 2021