The leading Robotic Process Automation software vendors

These are some of the top RPA vendors offering intelligent process automation capabilities

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Despite being around for some time now, organisations are only now beginning to explore the full potential of robotic process automation (RPA), leading to a vibrant vendor landscape constantly battling to offer the best and smartest solutions.

The global RPA market is expected to reach $5.9bn (£4.52bn) by 2025, a report from MarketsAndMarkets finds.

According to the report, this growth is mainly driven by the ease of installation and the ability for RPA to transform traditional business processes.

Automation Anywhere, UiPath, Blue Prism and NICE are all big names in the RPA space, yet each provides a different service – or at least, in a different way.

So what exactly differentiates some of the big RPA vendors?

Read next: What is RPA? Everything you need to know about Robotic Process Automation

Attended vs Unattended RPA

The two main aspects to consider when assessing RPA capabilities is attended and unattended automation. Vendors tend to offer services focused on one or the other, and in some cases, the features could be a blend of the two.

Simply put, attended automation software requires human intervention, so is often deployed in the front office of an organisation. This is more commonly used in contact centres, and tends to run on an agent’s desktop or system and is triggered by the user as and when specific events occur. Think of it like an assistant bot.

Unattended automation is the opposite: it runs without human intervention, with the robot scheduled to run automatically depending on a set of rules that allow it to trigger certain actions, making it well suited to back office settings. However it is increasingly being applied to repetitive or mundane tasks in the front office.

Making the decision to choose one RPA vendor over the other more or less comes down to your specific business needs and what form of automation can help to meet your criteria.

Blue Prism

Founded in 2001, Blue Prism claims to have invented the term Robotic Process Automation. It offers a software platform to help organisations develop a digital workforce while making business operations more agile and cost-effective.

Blue Prism offers a mix of attended and unattended automation solutions, with both automation for back office processes while also supporting employees with repetitive tasks.

Like many of its rivals, the product roadmap is increasingly aimed at providing customers with access to AI within their RPA solution.

The firm has also added three new software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, leveraging the intellectual property it acquired following the purchase of fellow RPA vendor Thoughtonomy in the summer of 2019.

The new solutions include Blue Prism Cloud Hub, Cloud Interact and Cloud IADA, all of which are designed to address key business process needs for enterprises.

“So what we effectively did was took the capabilities that we've built into the Thoughtonomy platform and worked on disaggregating them from the platform so that they could be sold as individual assets or they could be delivered as individual assets to customers who wanted to explore the benefits of them but wrapped around their existing Blue Prism implementation,” Terry Walby, CEO and founder of Blue Prism explained to Computerworld in an interview.

Cloud Hub acts as a web-based management console which allows organisations to manage their digital workforce, with added capabilities around information lifecycle management.

As the name states, the Interact feature provides the ability for human to robotic interaction as part of automated workflows, designed to address any process that requires manual initiation or intervention (otherwise known as human-in-the-loop).

Then there is the Intelligent Automation Digital Assistant (IADA), an AI-based orchestration tool to help organisations maximise the throughput of its digital workers.

“Our organisations go-to-market is about giving customers choice. One of the reasons that we were keen to add Thoughtonomoy and Blue Prism Cloud to the portfolio was because it had that added choice,” Walby said. “So we built a platform that is renowned with enterprise credentials, a secure and mature software platform that you know organisations across heavily regulated industries are very comfortable having for highly mission critical activities like payments or manage patient records.”

Automation Anywhere

Automation Anywhere was founded in 2003 to provide an enterprise platform where software bots work with employees to handle repetitive tasks. In other words, it specialises in unattended automation.

It also combines cognitive machine learning and analytic technologies to help organisations manage their business processes faster.

“Cognitive and AI are one of the fastest growing revenue streams as you can imagine, because in two ways they are complementing each other. With RPA a lot of people take the bot out of a human, and with cognitive it allows you to take out the human and process it into a machine. So when you combine both of these technologies you can automate any process end-to-end,” said Ankur Kothari, CRO and co-founder at Automation Anywhere.

The firm has also made improvements to its IQ Bot, an RPA intelligent document processing solution, to make it available in the cloud and on-premise.

It is designed to allow users to easily automate business processes that include documents such as invoices and purchase orders. The latest update ensures that the user interface supports 10 languages, with extraction from ID documents for various insurance and health claims.

Customers of Automation Anywhere range across financial services, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing and more.

NICE

NICE also offers a mixture of both attended and unattended automation solutions to help organisations make smarter decisions and deliver better customer service.

The vendor officially began to specialise in RPA after acquiring Eglue in 2011 and expanded across Europe and the US to deliver advanced robotic automation.

The services include unattended robotic automation, which enables organisations to automate processes for fast error-free resolution. Once installed on virtual servers, the robots handle all end-to-end processes that it is assigned.

It also offers desktop automation, which acts as a digital assistant – otherwise known as attended automation. This can be deployed to automate repetitive desktop tasks and feedback to employees with links to data in real-time to help perform work more efficiently and accurately.

“A lot of people refer to it as ‘attended,’ but it’s not really attended, it’s more of a virtual assistant if you like. It’s a capability for helping people and that’s quite different to what other vendors talk about when they talk about attended,” said Gareth Hole, solutions sales manager at NICE.

NICE began with a core focus on the contact centre space, where it noticed the fast-paced environment required automation to help employees hit their targets. However, it later noticed that all its collected data could support other processes, specifically around documentation, and began to offer unattended services as well.

“We tend to realise that other companies are not so strong on the attended space and their strength is unattended. It’s only when customers begin to look at the more complex processes that they need to automate that they realise some shortfalls in the company, and will choose us,” John O’Hara, president at NICE EMEA told Computerworld.

UiPath

Founded in 2005, UiPath provides an open enterprise and IT RPA platform to automate business processes across front and back office operations.

With over 1,800 business and government agency customers, they tend to adopt UiPath’s Enterprise RPA platform to deploy software robots that emulate and execute repetitive processes.

The UiPath robot provides both human-led and robot-led automation, so customers can benefit from attended or unattended automation.

In October 2019, the firm expanded its product portfolio with added capabilities to support AI and end-to-end automation to enable companies to democratise and scale their use of RPA technology faster.

“With the addition of the UiPath Explorer, UiPath Apps and UiPath Insights families, we are making it easy for more business professionals across the enterprise to interact with robots, including citizen developers, business analysts and end-users throughout both the front and back-office," said Param Kahlon, chief product officer at UiPath.

UiPath remains a leader in RPA software adoption, according to the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Robotic Process Automation Software.

SAP

The German enterprise software giant SAP essentially entered the RPA market following the acquisition of French specialist Contextor SAS in November 2018.

The vendor is looking to include RPA capabilities within its Leonardo Machine Learning portfolio, and also combine it with conversational artificial intelligence to deliver what it calls Intelligent RPA - or IPA.

Read next: SAP takes on intelligent RPA following Contextor acquisition

“SAP is working on an intelligent approach to RPA, with the idea that we’re bringing together the classic RPA capabilities to drive connections and automate clicks in software applications with a deep knowledge of the SAP machine learning stack,” Markus Noga, head of machine learning at SAP told Computerworld.

“Our overall focus is the vision of the intelligent enterprise, helping companies going from digital, where all the information is available digitally at the point of origin, to actually using the information to learn and augment human and business processes based on the new capabilities that machine learning and AI provide to enterprise software.”

The acquisition of Contextor has helped SAP get a jump start on its RPA capabilities, and the vendor is looking to provide customers with a set of use cases around common enterprise business processes that can be automated with RPA.

“Intelligent RPA is about triggering actions and enterprise applications while automating activities, which we started development on in early summer 2018 and we’ve now recently augmented with the acquisition of Contextor,” Noga said.

EdgeVerve Systems

Infosys subsidiary EdgeVerve Systems offers a range of RPA software available on-premise and in the cloud.

Amongst these is its AssistEdge RPA platform, which combines AI capabilities,  business dashboards, smart resource management and contextual intelligence features to help teams to identify opportunities for process redesign and automation.

In August 2019, the firm announced the launch of AssistEdge RPA 18.0, powered by its own cognitive engine, which the vendor has branded 'Albie'.

“Powered by Albie, organizations will be able to seamlessly integrate human specialists with digital bots to create more scalable and secure process automation. Organizations will see improved bottom line, enhanced customer experience and enterprise agility at every level,” Atul Soneja, SVP and global head of edge products at Infosys said in a press release.

EdgeVerve Systems was listed as a ‘challenger’ in Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for RPA software.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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