Automation Pioneer Blue Prism Grows Its Digital Workforce

The Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) partner to Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM says it added 300 new customers in 2017 and saw revenue grow 155%.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

January 30, 2018

3 Min Read
Automation Pioneer Blue Prism Grows Its Digital Workforce

Robotic processing automation (RPA) company Blue Prism is celebrating the close of its second fiscal year as a publicly listed company by raising £70 million (about $100 million) from a share placement, including £40 million from issuing new shares. It has also announced net growth of 300 customers in 2017 and a 155% increase in revenues, to about £24.5 million (about $35 million).

The automation company says it will use the new funds to accelerate its sales and marketing activities. It also plans further innovation around RPA and its Digital Workforce Operating System, its software robots used to automate "repetitive administrative tasks" in a way it claims is secure, compliant with enterprise IT protocols and scalable -- and, the company says, in a manner that augments existing jobs by phasing out their clerical aspects, rather than replacing those workers entirely. (See Ericsson CFO: Automation Is Helping Us Cut Jobs.)

Blue Prism arrived on the scene -- and helped create it -- in 2001 with RPA software tools that are used by Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, as well as in cloud deployments with Google and IBM. The company does business across enterprise markets and counts Sony Pictures, Boeing, DTE Energy, IBM, Ericsson and BT as customers. (See Automation Opportunities a 'Top 5' Topic for BT, Says Tech Chief.)

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Blue Prism says that it closed 609 new software deals, and signed up 324 new enterprise customers across the US, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand, in 2017, representing 238% growth in its customer base. The UK-based company says the US, where it has 135 customers, is its key focus, but it's seeing opportunity across the globe, especially in the Asia Pacific. It partners with Deloitte and Ernst & Young on international distribution.</</p>

Led by CEO Alastair Bathgate, Blue Prism has attracted a lot of attention for its promise to automate mundane processes and save companies time and money in the process. It's been recognized as a category definer and market leader and, among other accolades, was named one of MIT Tech Review's 50 Smartest Companies in 2017. Merrill Lynch estimates it has about 11% of the RPA market.

At the same time, however, it's also received a healthy amount of skepticism around whether it is worth its ever-soaring stock price and market valuation of about £900 million ($1.27 billion).

The Financial Times (subscription required), for example, points out that Blue Prism saw its pre-tax losses widen from £5.3 million ($7.5 million) to £9.4 million ($13.3 million) in 2017 and expects losses to worsen to £19 million ($26.9 million) in 2019.

The funding the company raised included about £30 million ($42.4 million) from the sale of 2.3 million shares by existing shareholders, including Bathgate, who sold 595,238 shares, reducing his stake in the company from 9% to 8%.

Blue Prism was down 1.45%, to £13.60 ($19.22) at market open Tuesday.

-- Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

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About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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