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RPA Deals Heat Up Amid Faster Digital Transformation Pushes

Automation is a key component in successful digital transformations today, and several big tech vendors are adding these capabilities by acquiring RPA vendors. Tibco and Blue Prism are joining forces, for instance.

Enterprises sped up their digital transformations during the pandemic, and what has emerged on the other side reveals investments in cloud, chat bots, machine learning, robotic process automation, low-code tools, and a number of other technologies.

Together these technologies comprise a new layer that sits on top of applications.

Forrester analyst Leslie Joseph calls this layer an “automation fabric” for digital business. One of the keys to making all this technology work more efficiently, particularly during the current labor crunch, is automation.

Recognizing the importance of this automation, big tech vendors have snagged a number of automation companies in acquisitions since the pandemic began in March 2020. For instance, Salesforce acquired Servicetrace RPA, ServiceNow acquired Intellibot, IBM acquired WDG, and Microsoft acquired Softmotive.

Most recently, US private equity firm Vista Equity, the owner of infrastructure and business intelligence company Tibco, announced it would acquire the British RPA firm Blue Prism and combine it with Tibco.

During his keynote address at the Tibco Now event at the end of September, CEO Dan Streetman addressed the deal that had just been announced.

“Blue Prism’s industry leading solutions present an attractive opportunity to expand our platform and enable our customers to benefit from intelligent automation,” he says. “This will help our combined customers and partners as part of the Tibco Connected Intelligence Platform … Together, Tibco and Blue Prism will redefine the future of intelligent automation, fully leveraging the power of real time data and helping the world to solve the most complex data challenges.”

Forrester analysts Leslie Joseph and colleagues Craig Le Clair and Bernhard Schaffrik penned a blog post giving their “thumbs up” to the deal.

“A big value to Tibco is the customer base, and with the merger, it will get a great base,” the analysts write. “Blue Prism was an early mover in the RPA market and, in fact, named it and acquired many blue chip early adopters that value scalability, security, and control that Blue Prism provides. RPA and intelligent automation are becoming more strategic each day, and Tibco should now find it can climb to higher floors in the virtual building.”

But it’s not just the pandemic that accelerated the automation market. Its strong growth was well underway, driving a strong business in both software license sales and service provider services to enterprises, according to Joseph. Organizations have been building out their RPA setups for the past 4 to 5 years, he says, and they’d pretty much automated all the “low hanging fruit,” leading to the question of how they could make their business processes even more automated and even more efficient.

That’s where more advanced automation technologies such as intelligent automation have come into play. Enterprises were seeking something more sophisticated than basic RPA could offer -- technologies that could address greater process complexity and automation specific to customer experience. Organizations started adding other technologies to augment RPA, such as intelligent automation components, integration technologies, and low-code tools.

“It’s increasingly about companies composing this fabric for themselves rather than implementing a single platform,” Joseph says. But the combination of Tibco and Blue Prism will help both companies better address customer needs when it comes to more sophisticated offerings. The deal points to the further convergence of automation and integration technologies into this automation fabric, according to Joseph. It’s this combination that will help enterprises reach the next level.

“Companies are starting to realize the next stage of digital transformation will be through automation,” Joseph says. 

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Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer