RPA or Robotics Process Automation is one of the most significant technologies in current time. Its ability to automate tedious and mundane tasks has transformed numerous business operations. The market reports have observed that the global RPA market size was valued at US$ 1.1 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow with a CAGR of 33.6 percent from 2020 to 2027. Analyzing its accelerating market several organizations are adopting the technology to offer better and enhanced services.
Some prominent participants and key players in the market including Blue Prism, UiPath, Automation Anywhere and significant others are catering to a large set of business-audience with their innovative and sophisticated solutions for automation of back-office processes.
However, the big techs of all time are slowly getting into the race to compete against the aforementioned companies. Let’s talk about Microsoft. Since Satya Nadella acquired the responsibilities as the company CEO, Microsoft has excelled even more with leaps and bounds. Under his leadership the company has bolstered its cloud capabilities, standing right next to services like Amazon.
It will be no surprise if in future Microsoft would overtake RPA aces.
So What Microsoft Has Done to Get Its RPA Game Right?
In its last Ignite Conference, Microsoft announced an upgrade to its Power Automate – RPA Platform. The addition was aimed at increasingly easing the process of building and deploying robotic process automation systems and AI models.
The program vice president of artificial intelligence strategies at IDC, Ritu Jyoti said “For business users, to have pre-built artificial intelligence models can imply that they don’t have to gather data, build or train their models. AI Builder introduced a new set of pre-built models while adding intelligence to the power platform and making it accessible via Power Apps and Power Automate.”
Microsoft, now, has taken its existing Flow product (similar to the popular and free web-based service IFTTT) and added the open-source tool Selenium (originally developed for automating web application testing) and a desktop macro recorder — and called the bundle RPA.
Moreover, recently the company announced the launch of the preview of UI flows, the new robotic process automation capability in Microsoft Power Automate that will be generally available worldwide on April 2.
According to Microsoft’s blog, Power Automate already helps hundreds of thousands of organizations automate millions of processes every day. With the addition of RPA, Power Automate will help these organizations to also automate their legacy apps and manual processes through UI-based automation. The key Power Automate capabilities the company has announced include RPA general availability for attended and unattended scenarios, along with a flexible business model to support any business scenario.
The blog further says, Power Automate—the most comprehensive cloud-based automation platform—unlocks analog data with AI, automates UI with RPA, and automates cloud applications and databases with built-in connectors. This comprehensive set of capabilities represents the next generation of automation and will be accessible to everyone in an organization including coders and non-coders alike through a low code development environment and uniquely affordable licensing.
With Power Automate, Microsoft is putting automation into the hands of all workers so that everyone can automate repetitive tasks across legacy and modern applications, and simplify how they work in a scalable, more secure way.
Democratizing Automation for All with Innovative Offerings
Power Automate offers both attended and unattended RPA which means one can record and playback actions with or without human interaction (attended and unattended, respectively). As claimed by the company, RPA capabilities will be licensed as part of two new Power Automate offers that provide organizations with the flexibility to address a range of attended and unattended scenarios. UI flow authoring and bot orchestration and management are included in both offers, with no add-ons required.
The per user with attended RPA plan provides the ability for users to run an attended RPA bot on their workstation. The plan is optimized to span legacy and modern applications by enabling users to combine UI and API-based automation. Additionally, attended RPA includes access to several AI Builder capabilities like forms processing, object detection, prediction, text classification and recognition, and more. On the other hand, an unattended RPA add-on will be available for the new per-user plan with attended RPA, as well as the existing per-flow plan.
Organizations can choose to scale the number of bots running autonomously as needed. As aforementioned, both the Power Automate per-user plan with attended RPA and the Power Automate unattended RPA add-on will be available in early April.
Valuable Customer’s Testimony
Ingram Micro, one of the world’s largest distributors and IT leaders in technology products, is using Power Automate to improve and automate workflows spanning multiple systems and functions such as new account creation and onboarding, management of customer credit lines, transportation optimization, event management, and integration of external partner data into their internal processes and workflows.
“With Power Automate, we’ve been able to improve the customer and internal associate experience, and at a much faster rate than before, with 75% of Power Automate projects completed in less than 30 days. We are excited to see that Microsoft is investing and delivering in the area of RPA as Power Automate has been an important factor in modernizing our business and we look forward to exploring opportunities with the new RPA capabilities coming this spring.” – Jim Annes, Vice President of US Business Operations and Transformation, Ingram Micro
Impact on RPA Market
Automation Anywhere: “… At Microsoft Ignite, we announced a deeper collaboration to provide more simplified access to Automation Anywhere Enterprise A2019 from Microsoft Azure. As the partnership expands between the two companies, customers will be able to leverage Automation Anywhere software bots to automate more complex business processes and provide greater capabilities with Microsoft products.”
UiPath: “UiPath is focused on providing a comprehensive platform to customers who are in need of a flexible solution that can be tailor-fit and easily integrated with a wide range of solutions in the AI ecosystem. Our latest product release validates that strategy, as we’ve made it easier than ever for every employee—regardless of their technical proficiency—to reap the benefits of rapidly automating their work without the need for developer resources or coding.”
Blue Prism: “Blue Prism focuses on enterprise interoperability over robotic desktop automation. Because Blue Prism is the only end-to-end solution on Azure, we see Microsoft’s move into this market as a strategic partnership opportunity and a chance to tell a ‘Better Together’ story that benefits customers with a broad range of solutions to meet their hybrid and multi-cloud needs.”
While Power Automate is a good solution, Microsoft is still playing catch up. According to Bill Galusha, who is the leader for product strategy for RPA and content intelligence for ABBYY: “The features announced are really table stake-type features you would expect where business users automate tasks by recording human interactions with an application. Still, there are a lot more sophisticated capabilities that RPA vendors have today that focus on making orchestrating hundreds of these robots in production enterprise-ready.”
“Current dominant RPA players such as UiPath, Automation Anywhere and Blue Prism will need to focus on enhancing the user experience with orchestrating tasks and managing automatons,” said Thomas Phelps, who is the Vice President of Corporate Strategy and CIO at Laserfiche. “Microsoft’s sheer size and adoption by corporate IT will help it to establish a foothold in the RPA software categories and scale quickly.”