Robotic process automation (RPA) — software that automates monotonous, repetitive office chores traditionally performed by human workers — is big business. Forrester projects that it and other fields of artificial intelligence (AI) will create jobs for 40 percent of companies next year, and that a full one-tenth of future startups will employ more digital workers than human ones. Moreover, some analysts project the RPA market will be worth a whopping $3.11 billion by 2025.
Pankaj Chowdhry thinks his company has something new to bring to the table. He’s the founder and CEO of FortressIQ, an RPA startup that today emerged from stealth with $12 million in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners — an extension of a $4 million round involving Boldstart Ventures, Comcast Ventures, and Eniac Ventures.
Chowdhry said that FortressIQ’s product suite is the culmination of 18 months of work with corporate transformation teams, who provided guidance on ways that daily processes such as data entry and transcription might be automated.
“After speaking with hundreds of companies it became clear that the dollars being wasted on process assessments and documentation are a ‘tax on innovation,’ siphoning dollars from transformation initiatives,” Chowdhry said.
FortressIQ’s beating heart, so to speak, is Virtual Process Analyst (VPA), which leverages AI — specifically computer vision — to “learn” business tasks as they occur in real time, and to provide insights and data that aim to aid in the transition from a manual to an automated pipeline. VPA doesn’t require APIs, transaction logs, or installation, and works with applications proprietary and commercial alike.
“FortressIQ’s technology provides the insights necessary for a global organization to integrate the digital workforce into their operations,” Nakul Mandan, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, said. “We think the company’s strong management team, with its data-driven approach, is uniquely positioned to alter the expensive, slow and inefficient methodologies that prevent businesses from fully realizing their digital transformation initiatives today.”
No matter how disruptive FortressIQ’s technology, to be fair, the company has its work cut out for it. Startup UiPath’s latest funding round now totals $265 million at a valuation of $3 billion, and Softomotive brought in $25 million in September. Moreover, earlier this month, Automation Anywhere announced it had secured a $300 million investment from SoftBank, valuing the company at $2.6 billion.
If Chowdhry’s spooked by the competition, he’s not showing it.
“We’re delivering on the promise of cognitive automation with the … release of our platform, putting us in a strong position to build on the sales momentum and traction we’re already experiencing with Fortune 500 companies,” he said.