If 2020 began with more companies testing the waters of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), 2021 has seen a tsunami starting.
In the post-pandemic era, even organizations that were slow to embrace automation are turning to RPA software as a quick, easy way to become more competitive and resilient without worrying about a big software project or system overhaul.
Gartner expects the RPA software market to reach nearly $2 billion this year and expand at double-digit rates through 2024. Nearly 50% of organizations aim to implement RPA over the next year to combat COVID challenges, according to Forrester Consulting.
By 2022, Gartner predicts RPA adoption across 90% of large organizations worldwide, stating: “The key driver for RPA projects is their ability to improve process quality, speed and productivity, each of which is increasingly important as organizations try to meet the demands of cost reduction during COVID-19.”
Despite surging demand, many companies lack experience with RPA - and that often leads to confusion.
For instance, many organizations don’t understand the true difference in capabilities between one RPA software and the other. They may also have heard that RPA is for only very large corporations and that the upfront minimum licensing investment can run as high as $100,000 per year, which is not always the case anymore.
The reality is that RPA providers are rapidly and continuously evolving their offerings and pricing models to serve the developing needs of their customers.
To help those investigating market options quickly find the best automation tool for their company, here is a list of the top RPA vendors based on the Everest Group Peak Matrix for RPA Technology Vendors 2020:
As shown in the figure above, Everest groups RPA tools into three main buckets based on their capabilities, market impact, and ability to deliver product successfully. Everest also highlights UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, Intellibot, and Nividous as Star Performers for achieving the greatest year-over-year growth in its market impact and vision and capability categories.
2. Automation Anywhere
3. Blue Prism
11. Automation Edge
Gartner also ranks UiPath as the #1 platform in its 2020 Magic Quadrant for RPA for the second year in a row, followed by Automation Anywhere and Blue Prism. These three RPA vendors consistently stack up as the market leaders based on multiple sources and leading research firms.
In the rest of this article, we will compare these three automation solutions and provide our perspective on why UiPath gives you the most “bot for your buck.”
Founded in 2001, Blue Prism was the pioneer in the RPA sector and coiner of the term “Robotic Process Automation.” Four years later, UiPath CEO Daniel Dines technically started UiPath as a company called “DeskOver.” However, it was not until 2015 that it was really born and rebranded as an RPA company.
The table below provides a quick snapshot of each of the three RPA tools in terms of revenue, size, employees, and valuation:
Investments received to date
|2005 - rebranded as RPA solution in 2015||New York, NY||$541M||3,000||6,300+||$1.95B||$35B|
|2003||San Jose, CA||$367M||1,750||3,500+||$840M||$6.8B|
Blue Prism’s longer trajectory initially made it the go-to solution. Most of its clients were large banking and financial institutions - among the only organizations that could afford RPA’s initial high cost of entry.
Years later, more affordable competitors like UiPath and Automation Anywhere came to market with the same (or better) capabilities and increased flexibility and ease of implementation. As a result, RPA was “democratized” for companies of all sizes across many industries, including small and mid-market organizations.
Today, UiPath and Automation Anywhere have much higher valuations ($35B and $6.8B, respectively) than Blue Prism, valued at $1.26B. They also have soared past Blue Prism’s base of more than 2,000 customers, with 6,300+ and 3,500+, respectively.
Another interesting source for RPA tools comparison is G2, whose ranking is based on real-time data from verified user reviews. As of 1/27/21, each of the top three platforms rated as follows:
- UiPath rates 4.6/5 stars with 4,722 reviews
- Automation Anywhere rates 4.5/5 stars with 4,310 reviews
- Blue Prism rates 4.4/5 stars with 158 reviews
UiPath’s popularity is easy to measure – the Everest Group points to 100% year-over-year growth in UiPath’s RPA business in 2019 and nearly 1,500 new clients in the first half of 2020 alone.
Even before it reached a $35 billion valuation with a $750 million round of funding on Feb. 1, UiPath was expected to rank among the most valuable New York City tech companies at the time of its Wall Street IPO. Analysts expect UiPath to go public as early as the first half of this year.
But with so many contenders fighting for market space, what makes UiPath the preferred platform?
UiPath has evolved to become the only RPA platform in the market built to support the full automation lifecycle from discovery to measurement. Its product portfolio continues to stay at the forefront of innovation, continuously expanding its traditional RPA offering capabilities to include tools like process mining, embedded analytics, improved AI fabric components, SaaS-based RPA, and test automation.
UiPath is considered one of the fastest RPA solutions in the industry as well – often 3-4x faster than other RPA products.
Its ease of development is also significantly greater than competitors like Blue Prism, where the notably higher coding skills required make implementation much more time-consuming.
In addition, the attended capabilities of UiPath are unmatched. Even today, attended functionality offered by Automation Anywhere is limited in its monitoring and deployment, and in the case of Blue Prism , almost nonexistent. UiPath delivers the combination of attended and unattended automation that many customers desire.
Other key UiPath strengths include:
|Long Running Workflows. Traditionally, automation is expected to work on its own from start to finish, without human interaction. Unfortunately, that excludes the significant number of business processes that require approval or inputs as part of their workflows. UiPath offers a platform that enables interaction and collaboration between digital and human workforces, opening the door for many more automations in a cost-effective and actionable manner.|
|Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics. Implementing Machine Learning (ML) models has proved challenging. Not only are they expensive and difficult to maintain, but major changes like COVID render their predictive analytics capabilities useless. UiPath offers out-of-the-box, drag-and-drop ML models that can be consumed by all organizational sizes at a fraction of the usual cost. They can also be customized and fixed much quicker than traditional in-house development.|
|Seamless Interconnectivity. The openness of the UiPath platform and its seamless interconnectivity with almost all major enterprise products and applications enables superior business process management. Key advantages include open APIs, integration with 3rd-party analytics and dashboard systems, and the ability to invoke code.|
|Process Document Understanding. UiPath Document Understanding combines RPA and artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve end-to-end document processing. It helps organizations extract and interpret data from different documents, from AP invoices to loan or employee applications. The tool works with a wide range of documents from structured to unstructured; recognizes different objects like tables, handwriting, signatures, or checkboxes; and can deal with various file formats.|
|Citizen Development. In line with its vision for “a robot for every person,” UiPath recently launched StudioX. This innovative, no-code tool is an optimized version of its design studio that enables non-technical users to create simple automations for themselves or their departments. That way, employees can take the initiative to automate tasks that make their lives easier but don’t fit the criteria for a company-wide initiative.|
|Customer Satisfaction. UiPath receives high marks in every measure of customer satisfaction. Besides its impressive G2 ratings, UiPath scores the highest of the three largest RPA software vendors in Gartner’s Peer Insights – earning 4.6/5 stars (and by far the most customer reviews) detailing evaluation and contraction, integration and deployment, service and support, and product capabilities. UiPath has devoted significant resources to encouraging customers’ success by a continuous focus on learning resources, online training, and an active developer community. It also supports customers with frequent updates and crowdsourced knowledge sharing.|
|Flexible Licensing Model and Low Cost of Entry. UiPath was one of the first RPA software vendors to democratize RPA, allowing organizations to get started with an affordable low annual investment. This becomes a huge advantage when putting together the initial business case for automating repetitive business processes, as it helps make RPA's traditionally fast payback even faster.|
Regardless of the platform, software vendors and implementation partners will have to keep focusing on helping their clients successfully scale their RPA programs in 2021. It’s no secret that most organizations still report issues growing their automation programs to the level they would like in terms of speed and ROI.
While Deloitte reports that 53% of organizations have started an RPA journey, only 3% have managed to achieve any form of scale. A whopping 65% of RPA initiatives stall after implementing 10 or fewer processes - and 30-50% of implementations fail altogether.
RPA can be a game-changing technology for an organization – when it’s done right. Understanding the differences between the leading RPA tools – and why UiPath has emerged as the preferred choice – can help make 2021 the Age of Automation for your company.