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Appian buys robotic process automation tools platform

With its acquisition of Novayre Solutions SL, Appian brings robotic process automation (RPA) to its customer base of enterprise low-code app developers.

Low-code software system provider Appian has made a move into the automation market with its acquisition of Novayre Solutions SL, maker of the popular Jidoka robotic process automation platform.

Appian's addition of Jidoka will make the company a one-stop shop for automation, wherein customers can get workflow, artificial intelligence and RPA systems from the Tysons, Va.-based company, said Matt Calkins, CEO of Appian. However, Appian's integration of the RPA platform could take up to 18 months, analysts say, which gives its competitors, such as Mendix and OutSystems, time to respond.

Terms of the deal for Novayre Solutions, which is based in Seville, Spain, were not disclosed.

According to Forrester Research, the RPA market is slated to reach $12 billion by 2023, and Gartner projects that about 40% of enterprises have begun to adopt the technology as of today.

However, many of these organizations are in the early stages of implementing RPA into their environments. RPA helps companies create software "robots" that automate monotonous, rule-based tasks that humans typically perform, such as checking email, logging into and out of applications, processing invoices and moving data from one application to another.

Charlotte DunlapCharlotte Dunlap

Appian's acquisition of the Jidoka platform represents an emerging app platforms consolidation among low-code, AI and RPA technology, said Charlotte Dunlap, an analyst at GlobalData in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Customers are looking to automate tasks associated with complex app development designs, particularly complex workflows in high-compliance industries.
Charlotte DunlapAnalyst, GlobalData

"Appian has acquired a key development platform through Jidoka," she said. "This is important because customers are looking to automate tasks associated with complex app development designs, particularly complex workflows in high-compliance industries."

During the time it will take to fully integrate Jidoka, Appian will likely continue to partner with RPA pure-play providers such as Blue Prism, UiPath and Automation Anywhere to deliver RPA functionality to customers, Dunlap said.

Rise of the robots

Appian is not alone among low-code vendors adding RPA support. Other low-code system providers including Mendix and OutSystems support RPA. Pegasystems also has an RPA offering and even larger rivals include Microsoft and IBM. Microsoft's Power Automate provides RPA capabilities and IBM Cloud Pak for Automation integrates with IBM RPA and leverages technology from partner Automation Anywhere.

Appian is less likely to go head-to-head with the top platforms but will look to add RPA to their customer base or find opportunities where digital process automation and RPA are both valuable, said Craig Le Clair, an analyst with Forrester Research..

"All told, this is a very good move for this well-established process company," he said. "The challenge will be to not treat RPA as a loss leader to entice customers towards deeper automation, but [rather to] give RPA an equal seat at the process table."

RPA is complementary to the low-code movement, which addresses DevOps digital transformation objectives including speeding the process of app development, integrations and automating workflow controls, Dunlap noted.

However, as the unification of low-code and RPA remains in its early stages, companies are implementing robots from many different vendors with issues such as robot security and governance emerging as concerns, Calkins said. Appian plans to tackle both of those problems for customers, he said.

Appian will deliver RPA on the Appian cloud. Bot developers will get a Java IDE to build robots and incorporate Google-powered AI for new scenarios.

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