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Robotic process automation (RPA) company Automation Anywhere today announced that it’s entered into a definitive agreement to acquire FortressIQ, a startup developing automatic process discovery and mining technologies. With this acquisition of FortressIQ, Automation Anywhere will expand its platform with new optimization capabilities that help to identify which software-based processes in an organization can be automated, according to its COO Mike Micucci.
“As two cloud-first companies, we … have common customers who we can help scale their digital transformation efforts and who will benefit from our best-of-breed automation technologies,” he told VentureBeat via email. “We believe our acquisition of FortressIQ makes complete business sense. We are combining the pioneer in intelligent automation with the pioneer in process discovery — a perfect match.”
Mihir Shukla will continue as Automation Anywhere’s chairman and CEO. Pankaj Chowdhry, CEO and founder of FortressIQ, will join Automation Anywhere as EVP and general manager for discovery.
Robotic process automation
The demand for RPA has grown as companies look for ways to streamline businesses processes during the pandemic — and as they adopt new digital technologies. RPA promises to automate monotonous, repetitive tasks traditionally performed by human workers, addressing bottlenecks with workflows, data, and documentation while providing audit trails and reducing compliance expenses (and risks).
RPA often begins with what’s called task discovery — process mining — where an RPA client spots root cause issues by pulling data from systems including desktop, IT, email apps, and workflows. Task capture is the next step in the onboarding chain, which comes as employees move through a work process that they’d like to automate.
“Automation continues to transcend other technologies as organizations pursue digital transformation initiatives,” Micucci said. “As companies continue on their automation journeys, there’s been tremendous interest from customers around process intelligence to help identify, map, and analyze the multi-dimensional processes that extend across hundreds of apps and thousands of employees, as well as the insight into which processes can and should be automated to drive business success.”
FortressIQ’s process-mining product taps AI — specifically computer vision and natural language processing — to “learn” business tasks as they occur in real time by analyzing and transcribing footage from a user’s desktop or laptop. FortressIQ claims that its technology can filter out noise and anonymize the captures to protect privacy. It also doesn’t require APIs, transaction logs, or installation and works with existing free, proprietary, and commercial apps, the company says.
Chowdhry got the inspiration for FortressIQ while leading AI at Genpact, a business process outsourcing firm. “We decided to join forces with Automation Anywhere as we thought it was the best way to accelerate our mission to deliver actionable process intelligence. We often heard from customers that one of the hardest problems they encountered was translating a discovered process into an automated one,” he told VentureBeat. “We feel that [Automation Anywhere’s] scale will be transformational for the industry and allow us to turbo charge our customer’s transformation agendas.”
Expansion and consolidation
Gartner estimates that the market for dedicated process mining tools alone has grown from $110 million in 2018 to more than $320 million today. In a report released last September, analysts at the firm found that the broader RPA market increased at a moderate 19.5%, with total revenue anticipated to reach $2 billion in 2021.
Unsurprisingly, major RPA vendors are starting to invest in building out process mining. Automation Anywhere rival UiPath developed some of its own tools before buying Process Gold and StepShot for their process mining capabilities. Blue Prism recently released a task mining solution called Capture, while other vendors including ABBYY and Kryon are slowly expanding their own process mining offerings.
“Demand for RPA and intelligent automation has skyrocketed as the pandemic endures and organizations have looked to automation for business resiliency, to support remote workers and streamline business,” Micucci said. “With this acquisition, we will add new capabilities from FortressIQ with built-in intelligence to our automation platform and create a joint roadmap that focuses on making AI-powered process discovery and process intelligence more robust. This will enable customers to speed and scale their automation journey.”
But Automation Anywhere’s acquisition comes at a time when the industry appears to be headed toward general consolidation — despite the vast amounts of capital being invested in it. In late January, SAP acquired German process automation company Signavio, just before ServiceNow got into the RPA segment with the buyout of India-based Intellibot.io. In April, IBM acquired process mining software company MyInvenio. Salesforce’s MuleSoft and Microsoft followed suit with the purchases of automation technology providers Servicetrace and Clear Software, respectively.
Still, Automation Anywhere rival UiPath — which recently filed to go public — believes the total global RPA market to be around $60 billion currently. In a sliver of supporting evidence, Automation Anywhere claimed last November that it was on track to reach profitability for the first time.
“While RPA firms aspire for dominance, exits await Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere, UiPath, WorkFusion and a gallery of other RPA companies,” The Last Futurist’s Michael Spencer wrote in a recent analysis. “Sprawling technology platforms can acquire these RPA startups and turn them into automation software that’s profitable and will rapidly consolidate the entire sector.”