UiPath leads march of the software robots

Accel Partners’ $30m stake in UiPath underscores the rise of robotic process automation in managing routine processes

As its very name suggests, the ICT industry does not lack for three-letter acronyms and abbreviations but there’s a good chance that very soon another one will become much better known. Robotic process automation (RPA) is a young market but one that is growing quickly because it stands to change fundamentally the way organisations run clerical processes.

RPA essentially replaces manual, human tasks such as cancelling lost credit cards, claims handling for insurance, employee on-boarding in HR, back-office support functions and other mundane chores as they are automated via software rules and business user-friendly process mapping.

Proof of the growth of the sector came with the late-April announcement that Accel Partners will invest $30m in RPA pioneer UiPath. The Romanian company, which had previously raised $1.6m in seed capital, was founded by CEO Daniel Dines, a mathematician and former Microsoft software developer. From Bucharest it builds software robots that help businesses automate repetitive processes such as those listed above.

UiPath is far from being the only company to see the benefits of RPA and there is a fast growing collection of startup software developers and consultants in the space including Automation Anywhere, Epiance Software, Jacada, and the UK’s Redwood and Blue Prism, which has seen its shares soar since floating early in 2016. But UiPath’s route might be emblematic of how RPA will deliver on its promise.

UiPath will use the incoming cash to grow global sales and marketing as well as in research and development where the company is doubling down on artificial intelligence and cognitive capabilities.

Kulpreet Singh, managing director for UiPath in EMEA and APAC, says the AI and cognitive smarts will help to make RPA faster, able to handle more complex processes (such as where interactions are currently required), and more adaptable to changing needs.

UiPath, founded in 2004, has 150 employees and over 150 partners including business process outsourcing firms, IT outfits and consulting giants such as Capgemini and Deloitte. Lufthansa, Swiss Re, Generali, Telenor and Dong Energy are among its approximately 200 customers.

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