Lift the lid on the Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, and Niche Players within the RPA space
According to Gartner, RPA software revenues increased by 31 percent to $2.4 billion in 2021. As such, its growth rate was 1.5x higher than the average across software markets.
These figures highlight how fast the space is evolving, with the analyst also suggesting that there are now 60 notable market vendors after 12 months of many mergers and acquisitions.
Yet, assessing the marketplace is tricky, with many players strengthening their offerings.
Thankfully, the Gartner Magic Quadrant offers an in-depth view of the RPA field, evaluating many prominent players and offering a succinct definition of the technology.
Robotic process automation (RPA) imitates how humans interact with applications to automate various business and IT processes.
To do so, it uses software scripts – regularly referred to as “bots” – developed through graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Vendors host these on RPA software platforms, which have become much simpler to navigate, thanks to the rise of low-code and no-code technologies.
According to Gartner, businesses should harness RPA to “move data in or out of application systems without human interaction” or “automate tasks with a human in the loop.”
RPA providers offer multiple use cases across numerous sectors to achieve precisely that. Yet, of course, capabilities, services, and future visions vary from one vendor to another.
Fortunately, the Gartner Magic Quadrant separates 15 of the most notable players into four categories: Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, and Niche Players.
Leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant demonstrate a clear-cut understanding of the market and where it is heading, a steadfast track record for delivering on expectations, and a proven ability to attract and retain clients. This year’s Leaders are:
Leading the industry, UiPath works with 10,000 enterprises across all verticals. It has developed a diverse customer ecosystem and many RPA-specific partner integrations to cater to all these clients. Gartner pinpoints these as significant strengths, alongside UiPath’s product strategy, overall viability, and proven execution ability. Perhaps this is why it is the largest RPA vendor by revenue.
Automation Anywhere has built a sturdy reputation for innovation. Gartner isolates its AISense for computer vision product as an excellent example. Automation Anywhere’s acquisition of process discovery provider Fortress IQ will likely accentuate this further. Other strengths include its cloud focus – with Google Cloud Platform and AWS deployment options – and marketing understanding.
Enterprise technology giant Microsoft has built its Power RPA platform on Azure. As such, it is part of a deep, familiar ecosystem, enabling an array of RPA use cases. Gartner acknowledges this while applauding its marketing strategy of offering a free version of its Power Automate for Desktop (PAD) to all Microsoft 10 and 11 customers. Interestingly, Power RPA capabilities are also embedded into Microsoft’s new CCaaS solution.
After almost slipping into the Challenger category in 2021’s Magic Quadrant, SS&C Blue Prism has bounced back. Much of this is down to its vast product portfolio, which provides numerous connectors to enterprise applications. However, Gartner also pinpoints its business model and overall viability – with over 100 offices in 40 countries – as significant strengths.
As the only stalwart CCaaS provider leading the Magic Quadrant, RPA is a significant differentiator within NICE’s core market. Yet, while the vendor starts in the contact center, it connects with other departments to automate many different business processes. Such a vertical strategy impresses Gartner, as does NICE’s innovation, sales execution, and pricing.
Challengers in the Gartner Magic Quadrant have established a significant, global customer base and have success in delivering on specific RPA use cases. However, their offerings seemingly best cater to particular segments of the market. This year’s Challengers are:
Gartner describes WorkFusion’s AI and machine learning capabilities as “superior,” with powerful pre-packaged, pretrained RPA models for various use cases in the financial and banking sectors. Across these spaces, WorkFusion is a standout RPA provider. However, this intense focus on its primary industries will likely deter clients across different sectors.
Visionaries in the Gartner Magic Quadrant offer a unique take on the market and an inspiring future path for clients. While they often grow into market leaders – or become acquired by such a vendor – their ability to execute is “yet to be tested sufficiently.” This year’s Visionaries are:
Best known for its CRM and BPM solutions, Pegasystems’ RPA platform integrates closely with its enterprise software portfolio. As such, it offers the capacity for end-to-end automation. Gartner applauds this approach alongside its innovation. The design studio, orchestration manager, and bot supervisor for attended and unattended automation are testament to this. However, the analyst cautions against the platform’s complexity.
Appian profoundly understands the market. Its 2021 acquisition of process mining vendor, Lana Labs, suggests this, allowing the vendor to take a step forward in its mission to offer a full-suite process automation platform. Indeed, the vendor now boasts an extended portfolio and ecosystem, which Gartner commends. Nevertheless, the vendor notes the platform’s price to value as a potential prospect hesitancy.
Often, visionaries lag leaders due to their size alone. With Salesforce (and SAP below), this certainly is not the case. Its global presence is mighty, as is the vendor’s capacity for innovation. Its self-building bot and RPA-driven, recently updated Salesforce Flow solution exemplify this. Unfortunately, Salesforce has not yet released “a full-blown go-to-market effort” for MuleSoft RPA, which is – for now – holding it back.
Like Salesforce, a limited global footprint is not the problem for SAP. The issue seems to be that its RPA platform gets lost within its extensive portfolio, as Gartner cites visibility as a critical concern. Despite this, SAP can connect its RPA capabilities with its other native solutions – such as its Service Cloud – to achieve many nifty automations across the enterprise. The analyst also notes its pricing model as a considerable asset.
Niche Players in the Gartner Magic Quadrant have made strides in the RPA market and can deliver value, typically in one vertical or RPA use case. Yet, their platforms seemingly lack depth. Alternatively, they may trail other participants in their ability to execute, geographic footprint, and clarity of vision. This year’s Niche Players are:
Operating primarily across Asia/Pacific, Cyclone Robotics has heavily invested in AI, developing a process intelligence and business rule engine integration. Gartner notes such innovation as a significant strength, impressed with its IoT and edge computing capabilities. However, the analyst questions whether its business model can sustain its fast growth.
After acquiring Kryon RPA – a Niche Player in the 2021 RPA Magic Quadrant – Nintex established an expansive portfolio – in addition to its customer ecosystem. However, Gartner appears uncertain as to the synergy between its native RPA and its newly acquired Kyron offering, seemingly underwhelmed by the post-M&A experience.
Available as a standalone solution or within IBM Cloud Paks, IBM Robotic Process Automation has many flexible licensing options. Garter singles these out for praise, alongside its AI focus and product support, with the vendor establishing a base of 17,000 automation practitioners. However, its developer UX has an “IT-centric look and feel,” and IBM’s RPA solution lacks visibility within its technology stack.
With over 600 partners and 700,000 community developers, Laiye is growing fast. It has developed an extensive partner and developer ecosystem, alongside an impressive operations base – especially since acquiring chatbot provider Mindsay. In doing so, it added to its conversational AI capabilities, which it integrates with IDP for competitive differentiation. Yet, Gartner questions this strategy, noting that competitors offer similar integrations through partnerships.
Likely due to its brand presence, Samsung SDS enters the top ten list of RPA providers by revenue. As such, many view the vendor as a viable option, enjoying its vibrant Brity Works community and marketplace. Samsung SDS also enhances its RPA regularly. Nevertheless, Gartner does draw caution to its product features, noting its limited prebuilt connectors as a particular concern.
The usual suspects are in the leader quadrant, with NICE moving into the leader category and SS&C Blue Prism surging towards the top-right-hand side of the Magic Quadrant.
Elsewhere, SAP seems to have vastly improved its RPA roadmap, making a giant leap from being a Niche Player in 2021 to becoming a Visionary this year.
Interestingly, WorkFusion switched from the Visionary to the Challenger quadrant, suggesting that it has developed particular specialties that have enabled it to advance in its execution.
Yet, all this change begs the question; what can we expect in 2023?
Perhaps more prominent vendors will enter the fray as Salesforce did this year. Alternatively, previously featured brands, including EdgeVerve and NTT, may make a comeback.
However, for now, we tip our caps to this year’s RPA Magic Quadrant Leaders: UIPath, Automation Anywhere, Microsoft, SS&C Blue Prism, and NICE.
Pick up more insights from the leading market analyst by checking out our rundown of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Conversational AI Platforms 2022