On April 30, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) specialist UiPath announced that it had secured a fifth round of venture funding. This round alone is worth $568 million and values the company at over $7 billion, and it brings UiPath’s total funding to over $1 billion. In response to this news, my colleague Philip Carnelley tweeted: “$7 billion valuation! #RPA surely the hottest software topic around right now.” Certainly, UiPath’s not alone, although it is currently by far the best capitalized RPA vendor. Its sparring partner Automation Anywhere has raised a total of $550 million; and beyond that, Blue Prism has so far raised a total of $59 million and Kryon has raised $53 million. However, UiPath is seeing quite extraordinary growth (no doubt some of it fueled by previous funding, a big chunk of which has gone into sales and marketing). In 2016 it had around 100 customers; in 2017, around 700; and in 2018, around 2,100. The growth in customer numbers shows no sign of slowing down yet.
A Market in a State of Flux
Anyone who’s been following the RPA market knows that it’s morphing, though, and increasingly vendors are looking to augment core RPA with other complementary automation technologies to enable them to address more of customers’ automation needs, and thereby to increase their value to, and penetration of/scale within individual accounts. Customers are similarly keen, as RPA often brings excitement about the potential of automation that the core technology by itself cannot always deliver on. The value of AI skills alongside RPA bots is grabbing the market’s attention most, unsurprisingly, but there are also important shifts to augment core RPA with workflow/orchestration, decision management, process mining, and more technologies.
It’s also important to understand that this stuff isn’t happening in a vacuum. There’s a pre-existing market for business process and task automation, largely served by BPM/workflow, application and data integration platform vendors — and both the “heritage” and the “new” vendors are starting to see the value in each other. As a result, a new kind of business automation toolkit is emerging — a toolkit that addresses a broader practice that we call intelligent process automation.
A New European Intelligent Process Automation Practice
My U.S.-based IDC colleagues Maureen Fleming and Holly Muscolino are already working hard to keep track of this technology space, and they’ve launched an Intelligent Process Automation Software CIS to help do just that. However, there are important regional angles to how this market is developing, and so I’m excited to announce that we’ve also launched a dedicated European Intelligent Process Automation practice.
I’ll be co-leading this practice with IDC Research Director John O’Brien, who has a strong track record analyzing and advising on RPA markets, technologies, and vendors.
This is a significant commitment from IDC in Europe, and we’re going to take what is fast becoming our hallmark collaborative approach to delivering insights and services. I have strong links into adjacent European practices focused on digital transformation and AI; John has similar links into IDC’s European Accelerated Application Delivery practice as well as our AI practice. As we grow the team, we’ll be drawing on other specialists across IDC’s deep software, services, and industry Insights groups, too.
In the coming months, expect to see us provide a much-needed dose of realism to counter today’s RPA hype, based on IDC’s deep knowledge of automation technologies, market trends, and enterprise insights. If you’d like to find out more about the research we’re planning or the ways we’re able to help (right now!), don’t hesitate to get in touch.