RPA market surges as investors, vendors capitalize on pandemic-driven tech shift – TechCrunch
When UIPath was submitted With its S-1 last week, it marked a turning point for the robotic process automation (RPA) market. The company, which first appeared on our radar in 2017 for a $ 30 million Series A, has raised a staggering $ 2 billion to date when it was private. It was valued at $ 35 billion in February when it raised $ 750 million in its final round.
RPA and process automation came to the fore during the pandemic as companies took steps towards digital transformation. When employees couldn’t be in the same office together, it became critical to cobble together more automated workflows that had fewer employees on the go.
With RPA, executives have been able to provide a level of workflow automation that essentially frees them up time to update systems to more modern approaches while reducing the large number of day-to-day manual tasks that are part of any industry’s workflow.
When UIPath raised money in 2017, RPA wasn’t very well known in enterprise software circles, although it has been around for several years. At this point, the category was gaining popularity as it looked at automation in an ancient context. This meant that companies with deep legacy technology – virtually anyone who wasn’t born in the cloud – could automate across legacy platforms without ripping and replacing them. This is an expensive and risky endeavor that most CEOs would prefer not to undertake.
RPA has enabled business leaders to provide a level of workflow automation, a taste of the modern age. This essentially frees them up time to upgrade systems to more modern approaches while reducing the large number of day-to-day manual tasks that are part of the workflow of nearly every industry.
While some people refer to RPA as job cutting software, it also provides a way to free people from some of the most nerve-wracking and mundane tasks in the organization. The argument goes that this frees up employees for higher-level tasks.
For example, RPA could leverage older workflow technologies like OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to read a number from a form, enter the data in a spreadsheet, generate an invoice, send it out for printing and mailing, and generate a Slack message to accounting that the task has been completed.
We’ll dive into RPA and the larger area of process automation – examine market size and dynamics, look at the key players and biggest investors, and finally try to figure out where this market could lead in the future.
Meet the vendors
UIPath is clearly an RPA star with a significant market share lead of 27.1%, according to IDC. Automation Anywhere ranks second at 19.4% and Blue Prism ranks third at 10.3% based on data from IDC’s July 2020 report, the company’s last report on the market.
Two other notable players with significant market share are WorkFusion with 6.8% and NTT with 5%.