Blue Prism helped coin the term robotic process automation (RPA) when the company was founded back in 2001 to help companies understand the notion of automating mundane business processes. Today, it’s releasing updates to that platform, including an updated marketplace for exchanging connectors to extend the main product, and, in some cases, adding a layer of intelligence.
The product at its core has allowed non-technical users to automate a business process by simply dragging components into an interface. All of the process coding has been automated on the back end. You could have a process that scans a check, enters a figure in a spreadsheet and sends an automated message to another employee (or digital process) when it’s done.
Dave Moss, company co-founder and CTO, sees a world in which companies are looking to digitization to stave off growing competition. Big insurance companies, financial services and other workflow-intensive organizations need to look beyond the automation capabilities his company has given them, and that is going to require an intelligence layer.
Today, the company wants to extend its core capability by offering more advanced tools in the Blue Prism Digital Exchange marketplace. The Exchange gives partners and customers the ability to create and share tools to enhance Blue Prism. To encourage those entities to add AI capabilities, the company also announced a new AI engine for building connectors to advanced AI tools from Amazon, Google, IBM and other AI platforms.
But the company doesn’t want to simply leave it to partners to provide the innovation. It wants that happening in-house as well, and to that end it has created Blue Prism Labs, where it will work with these same technologies looking for ways to inject its RPA products with artificial intelligence. This could lead to more sophisticated automated workflows down the road, such as using image recognition technology to add metadata about a photo automatically.
While Blue Prism has been a public company since 2016, the market has attracted a slew of startups, which have in turn been attracting big bucks from investors on gaudy valuations. UIPath, a NYC RPA company, has raised almost $450 million. Its most recent round in September was for $225 million on a $3 billion valuation. Automation Anywhere, a San Jose RPA startup, has raised $550 million, including an enormous $300 million investment from SoftBank in November on a valuation of $2.6 billion.