Robotic process automation (RPA) specialist Automation Anywhere, which includes the likes of AT&T and Juniper among its customers, has raised US$250 million in a Series A round of funding that values the company at $1.8 billion.
The staggering funding round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Goldman Sachs Growth Equity, with General Atlantic and World Innovation Lab (WiL) also pitching in.
The 14-year-old San Jose, Calif.-based firm, led by CEO and co-founder Mihir Shukla, specializes in the development of machine learning-enabled bots that can be deployed either on-premises or in the cloud to automate business processes. It claims to already have more than 1,000 customers that are developing "intelligent digital workforces" based on its software platform and applications, which incorporate "cognitive capabilities" and analytics.
Those customers include AT&T, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Dell EMC, Juniper Networks and Wipro.
AT&T's technology and operations automation team has been using the vendor's software to develop bots that "handle routine, time-consuming duties like creating engineering work orders or updating systems for network-boosting activities," the operator explained in an October 2016 blog post on its website.
Juniper, meanwhile, has used Automation Anywhere's platform to automate the invoice management and billing portal processes for its six largest customers, improving accuracy by 100%, reducing manual labor requirements by 33% and improving cash collection cycle times by two days, among other benefits.
Juniper, of course, has been developing bots of its own to further its "self-driving network" concept, including applications that translate spoken tasks into network processes. (See Automation Brings Rise of the Juniper Bots.)
Automation Anywhere says it will use the funds to expand internationally and fuel product development.
James Crawshaw, senior analyst of CSP IT and Automation at Heavy Reading, notes that this isn't the only sizeable funding round for a leading RPA vendor in recent months.
"Automation Anywhere's Series A round follows UiPath's $153 million Series B financing announced in March. Reliable numbers are hard to come by, but my understanding is that UiPath is the largest RPA vendor, by revenue, followed by Automation Anywhere and then Blue Prism," states Crawshaw. (See Automation Specialist UiPath Raises $153M.)
"As a publicly listed company, we know that Blue Prism's revenues in the 12 months ending April 2018 was £38 million ($50 million), up 54% year on year, and that its current market cap is £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion). Automation Anywhere is claiming its fund raise values it at $1.8 billion and that revenue is growing annually at more than 100%. UiPath claimed a valuation of $1.1 billion at its fund raise and that its revenue grew eight-fold in 2017," adds the analyst.
"Although these companies are relatively small within the broad IT market, RPA is a fast growing niche that can be a useful tool in telcos' automation strategy," notes Crawshaw. "Typically, RPA is used to eliminate the need for manual, error-prone, duplication of data entry across different IT systems, such as in a provisioning process. With RPA we can essentially write a macro that ties disparate systems together into one workflow with no need for re-entry of data and hence no risk of manual errors creeping into the process. RPA has lots of potential in customer support, IT Infrastructure support, data migration and back office administration -- these are generic use cases applicable across most industries, of course. One real world example from the telecom sector involves an enterprise ISP whose service reporting process involved employees having to access multiple systems, manipulate data, select key information and then format it into relevant documents. The time taken to deliver customer service reports was 1.5 days -- this was reduced to 6 mins with an RPA bot."
In addition to the AT&T example cited above, Crawshaw also notes that Telefónica UK Ltd. , which offers services under the O2 brand, has implemented RPA on 15 core processes representing about 35% of all back-office transactions. They have saved hundreds of full-time equivalent workers and the payback of their investment was just 12 months," says the analyst.
Both Automation Anywhere and UiPath were cited as significant automation companies to watch by Light Reading in August last year. (See The Autonomous Network Is the Endgame for Telecom.)
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading