No code, workflow and RPA line up for their automation moment – TechCrunch

We saw many trend lines through 2020 and through 2021 addressing automation, workflow, robotic process automation (RPA), and the move to low-code and no-code application building. All of these technologies, while capable of working on their own, are closely related and we are beginning to see some movement to bring them together.

While the definition of process automation is open to interpretation and could include things like industrial automation, Statista estimates that the process automation market could be valued at $ 74 billion in 2021. These numbers will catch the attention of both investors and business software executives.

Just this week, Berlin-based Camunda announced a $ 98 million Series B to coordinate the flow of data between RPA bots, microservices, and human workers. Meanwhile, UIPath, the RPA-only startup that’s going public any moment, has acquired Cloud Elements to move beyond RPA into API automation.

Not enough evidence for you? How about ServiceNow announce this week that it is buying Indian startup Intellibot to give it – you guessed it – RPA capabilities. This acquisition is part of a broader strategy for the company to move to full workflow and automation that was discussed a few weeks ago.

Late last year, SAP bought another Berlin process automation startup, Signavio, for $ 1.2 billion after announcing new automated workflow tools and an RPA tool in early December. Microsoft is also there after taking over the process automation startup Softmotive last May, which it then combines with its own automation tool PowerAutomate.

What we have here is a foamy mix of startups and large corporations looking to provide a full spectrum of workflow automation tools to enable companies to quickly start workflows and work with human and machine work through a company too relocate.

The result is that hot startups are getting amazing funding while other startups are exiting through acquisitions to these larger companies that want to buy rather than build in order to quickly break into this market.

Cathy Tornbohm, vice president of Distinguished Research at Gartner, says part of the rapidly growing interest is that these companies have been marginalized so far, but they see an opportunity and are using their checkbooks to catch up.

“IBM, SAP, Pega, Appian, Microsoft, and ServiceNow all made their way into the RPA market because for years they haven’t focused on how data gets into their systems when working between organizations or without people. [Instead] They focused more on what is happening within the client’s organization. In order to become more efficient digitally, the data acquisition and the data flow have to be optimized, ”said Tornbohm.

Despite all the excitement of the big vendors, they don’t control the pure RPA market. In fact, Gartner found that the top three players in this space are UIPath, Automation Anywhere, and Blue Prism.

But Tornbohm says these pure businesses don’t sit still, even when traditional corporate vendors try to force their way into the room. They are expanding beyond their RPA roots into the broader automation realm, which could explain why UIPath emerged from its pre-IPO dormancy to make the Cloud Elements announcement this week.

Dharmesh Thakker, managing partner at Battery Ventures, agrees with Tornbohm, saying that the move to the cloud accelerated by COVID-19 has led to an expansion of the activities of RPA providers.

RPA has traditionally focused on the automation user interface flow and user steps. However, we believe that a full automation suite requires this ability to automate processes across the stack. For larger companies, we see their interest in the category as a way of reacting to data in their systems. For stand-alone RPA vendors, this is an endorsement of the category and an invitation to expand their offering to other pillars of automation, ”said Thakker.

The activity we’ve seen in automation and workflow over the past year might just be the beginning of what Thakker and Tornbohm describe as companies of all sizes battle to become the automation stack of choice in the years to come.

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May 29, 2021