Tomas Doktor
Tomas Doktor (Research Manager)

IDC has been reporting that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a bifurcated IT spending outlook. Legacy on-premises infrastructure and traditional software licensing models are giving way to approaches that enable more flexibility and business agility. There is one exception here  the adoption of smart software apps, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software, that looks strong for both deployment types  on-premises as well as in the cloud. 

With a second wave of COVID-19 (or any other global pandemic) potentially in the air and further economic lockdowns, it has become crucial or companies in all sectors to avoid any further losses. An obvious way would be to minimize dependency on people and adopt machines instead, or smart software apps. 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is Really Gaining Traction 

In 2016, 51.8% of all internet users were robots. Currently around 70% of all internet traction is handled by robots. 

RPA software gained traction by taking software robots and pointing them at existing applications to mimic human/keyboard interactions and automate repeatable and well understood processes. RPA, as a whole market, has been growing high-double digits YoY (year on year) for past three years, and three main vendors in the space (UiPath, Automation Anywhere, and Blue Prism) that accounted for slightly more than 50% of WW market share in 2019 show even higher revenue growth and are gaining larger market share. 

Purveyor of software robots, Blue Prism, has hired a new CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and bagged £100 million in funding — proof of market confidence in the technology concept in the face of strong economic headwinds. In January, Blue Prism reported [PDF] an 83% YoY hike in revenue to £101 million for the year ended October 31, 2019, and its strong market position and COVID-19 resilience was confirmed by the latest financial report showing 70% YoY revenue growth to £68.5 million for six months tthe end of April (half of that period was already influenced by economic lockdowns). 

To put that in context, in 2017, U.S. RPA company UiPath was valued at $70 million, but just a year later, this had shot up to $3 billion on the back of a $225 million Series C funding round. It sucked up $568 million in a D-round last year, valuing the firm at $6.4 billion. UiPath is rapidly growing business. According to IDC research the company increased its 2019 revenues by 222% from a year ago, which is similar to the performance of another important RPA competitor  Automation Anywhere’s full year 2019 revenue was up 210% from 2018. 

What Does the Future Hold for RPA? 

RPA and intelligent automation will play a pivotal role in addressing business problems and goals globally. COVID-19 will further accelerate the adoption of RPA and intelligent automation as many institutions are now looking at automation to offer business continuity and resilience. 

Intelligent automation will be one of the key technologies to propel institutions through digital transformation. Institutions will invest significantly in automation to achieve business performance and scalability in these unprecedented times. 

Some processes in which IDC expects to see RPA activity after the COVID-19 crisis dissipates include service ticketing, document processing (including customer forms and applications), contact center operations, order processing, data allocation and reporting, and customer management. 

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