About a year ago IBM appeared all set on buying BluePrism the RPA firm but eventually, things fell through. Just as well as the valuations of RPA firms were and remain astronomical and often unrealistic. Indeed a year or so ago every major software firm wanted to acquire an RPA vendor, but the valuations made them think twice. RPA was red hot, the new silver bullet. But fashions come and go, and RPA though an important and valuable technology has experienced an emperors new clothes moment or two. Beneath the glamour and glitter of RPA, many have found that the underlying technology is not as unique or hard to crack than they first imagined, SAP, Microsoft Appian, Pega, etc all made modest investments and further built on them, others simply built their own RPA or continue to partner. Now IBM joins the party, making a modest acquisition today of Sao Paolo based WDG Automation.
On the surface, it looks like a smart move, as WDG will not have cost IBM a king’s ransom and provides the firm with out of the box, albeit straightforward RPA capabilities. Though not well known in the US, WDG is a key player in Brazil selling to regional Banks, Healthcare and Telecoms. Best known for chatbot automation WDG sells a single, user-friendly developer studio environment, that contains over 600 pre-configured automations. RPA is ultimately little more than a toolset to automate repetitive tasks, so WDA should find a ready home within many of IBM’s product and consulting groups. However we do note that IBM has initially positioned this to be placed in its Cloud Pak for Automation RedHat offering.
Over the coming year, we expect to see more RPA vendors acquired, and we expect those deals to be similar to that of WDG as the crazy valuations of the top tier RPA vendors continue to put buyers off and themselves out of reach.
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