This week, Appian announced the first acquisition in its 20-year history. It was for a startup based in Spain called Jidoka. The company is the developer of an RPA (Robotic Process Automation) platform, which is ranked No. 1 by Gartner Peer Insights.
Appian is a leader in the BPM (Business Process Management) and low-code markets. This technology’s allows for quick development of enterprise-grade applications, which has been key for digital transformation.
“Our customers have been asking for RPA,” said Michael Beckley, who is the CTO and founder of Appian. “They want a full-stack automation platform.”
As for Jidoka, it certainly provided some unique advantages. And perhaps the most important is that it is built on a Java code base, which is unique in the RPA industry (many of the systems are based on Microsoft’s .Net). “Because of our similar technology infrastructures, we’ve been able to integrate Jidoka by using a Docker container,” said Beckley.
The result is that Appian can provide full-on orchestration of workers, bots and AI (Artificial Intelligence). This is backed up with case management, governance, security and even seamless integration with major RPA systems like Blue Prism and UiPath.
“Appian has bought one of the smallest RPA players, but this makes sense,” said Neil Ward-Dutton, who is the VP of AI and Intelligent Process Automation for European Practices at IDC . “The largest players are too expensive and many of the mid-tier players have a lot of heritage customers and technology that would make them tough to integrate into Appian’s business. Appian has also started to position itself as an end-to-end business automation platform provider for a year or so, and this acquisition really boosts their credibility here. But it won’t be plain sailing and Appian has work to do. The company says it wants to keep its existing partnerships with Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath, for example, but this won’t be easy.”
So then, what does the deal mean for the industry? Well, first of all, this is not about an attempt by Appian to take on RPA vendors. For the most part, the Jidoka technology will be available on the Appian platform if customers want to use it.
Yet still expect some ripple effects in the industry.
“It will be interesting to see how the RPA players will evolve,” said Dr. Gero Decker, who is the CEO and founder of Signavio. “If I were them, I would acquire a low code player to complement their offering. Being an established and well-known player for low code, this surely allows Appian to tap into the high demand and massive lead pool for RPA at the moment—and then giving the customer more choices than what others in the space can offer.”
Note that RPA remains the fastest software category today–and there are few signs of a slowdown. According to Forrester, the market is forecasted to hit $12 billion by 2023.
There is also likely to be more dealmaking. “Pega, SAP, and Nintex have all made acquisitions in the RPA space to complement their existing offerings, and Microsoft has also recently announced a foray into RPA as part of the Power Platform,” said Ryan Duguid, who is the Chief of Evangelism and Advanced Technology at Nintex. “I expect to see more consolidation of this sort by the leaders in the process management space, particularly those with low- to no-code offerings, and I also expect to see the ‘big three’ RPA vendors—UIPath, Automation Anywhere, and Blue Prism—take steps to counter this trend by acquiring smaller BPM players.”
Tom (@ttaulli) is the author of the book, Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction.