Another RPA acquisition in 2020 – IBM is acquiring WDG

We have another acquisition in the RPA space and this time it is the Big Blue – IBM.

As has been the case with previous acquisitions, the target – WDG Automation – is a obscure RPA provider that was not hyped as much. These smaller RPA providers though hidden from the Analyst spotlight, provide most of the key functionality on which the bigger players can build on. In that sense, the IBM buy is like Microsoft’s acquisition of Softomotive in May.

WDG Automation

WDG Automation is a software provider, headquartered in São José do Rio Preto, Brazil. WDG portfolio includes:

  • RPA and Intelligent Automation (IA)
  • Chatbots
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

You may not have heard about WDG but they are another low-code Hyperautomation provider 🙂 As per HFS their technical prowess is quite good (Emphasis mine):

WDG adds proven attended desktop automation capability and has already displaced UiPath in a major organization. The technology provides a low code, cloud-based authoring experience for the business user to create bot scripts with a desktop recorder, without the need of IT. These scripts are executed by digital robots to complete tasks. Digital robots can run on-demand by the end-user or by an automated scheduler. Arguably, WDG is on a par with Softomotive – acquired by Microsoft for considerably more money. What is clear is these RPA firms are offering pretty much the same functionality for the basic scripting and recording.

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Why did IBM acquire WDG?

IBM has this under the Cloud integration group and is looking to strengthen its Hybrid cloud story. The IBM cloud team plans to add WDG Automation’s RPA and AI-driven, omnichannel chatbot capabilities to two areas where enterprises have critical automation needs:

  • Transforming business processes: IBM will integrate over 600 pre-built RPA functions from WDG Automation into Cloud Pak for Automation to help businesses turn insights from AI into automated actions.
  • Managing IT operations:  IBM plans to integrate WDG Automation RPA into its capabilities for automating IT operations, specifically Watson AIOps and Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management.

As the leading service provider, IBM surely would benefit from some spruced up automation capabilities for its Hybrid cloud while continuing to partner with the top RPA Providers on their IBM Automation Platform for Digital Business.

Looking Ahead

So, we have another Big Tech add RPA to its portfolio. The consolidation is in line with what many of us predicted for this year.

Two notable trends we are seeing with these acquisitions:

  1. Buyers are looking for value players that they can integrate and build on. They are mostly ignoring the hyped-up top RPA players.
  2. The acquired products are being integrated into a larger portfolio and so RPA becomes one of the many capabilities to Automate. In a way, the overall RPA market is going there with the “Hyperautomation” trend.

These have been true for all the big RPA acquisitions so far – Softomotive (by Microsoft), Jidoka (by Appian), and Contextor (by SAP). We still have the likes of AWS, Google, Oracle, Salesforce and more probably waiting in the wings – could we see the bigger RPA players come into play with any of them?

It will be interesting to watch how the market unfolds in this new normal – a Digital-first world!  

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