Robotic process automation (RPA), or bots that can be programmed to perform tedious and mundane tasks, is undergoing a period of explosive growth. Deloitte reports that 53% of companies have begun deploying it and that 78% of adopters will invest more in RPA in the next three years. In fact, assuming the current trend continues, it’s anticipated that RPA will achieve “near universal adoption” within five years.

One of the incumbents in the space is Automation Anywhere, which in the roughly 16 years since its founding has attracted over 3,500 customers in more than 90 countries, among them LinkedIn, MasterCard, Comcast, Hitachi, Stanley Black & Decker, IBM, Cisco, Symantic, Juniper Networks, Tesco, Unilever, Volkswagen, Whirlpool, Quest Diagnostics, Deloitte, Boston Scientific, Dell EMC, Accenture, Cognizent, Siemens, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the World Bank. To support the influx of business, it has expanded its workforce to more than 1,750 employees in 20 global locations, including Boston, Dallas, New York, Baroda, Mumbai, London, Melbourne, and Japan. And now it’s laying the runway for future growth.

Automation Anywhere today announced that it has raised $290 million in series B funding at a post-money valuation of $6.8 billion. Salesforce Ventures led the round, with additional contributions from existing investors, including SoftBank Investment Advisers and Goldman Sachs. This brings Automation Anywhere’s total raised to date to $840 million a year after the firm secured $550 million from SoftBank Investment Advisers, General Atlantic, Goldman Sachs, NEA, World Innovation Lab, and Workday Ventures.

CEO and cofounder Mihir Shukla said the fresh funds will help Automation Anywhere realize its vision of empowering customers to automate end-to-end workflows and advance its focus on improving human-to-bot collaboration. “Never before has there been such a transformative shift in the way we work, with artificially intelligent software bots changing how people, processes, and technology interact for productivity gains,” he added. “This new funding reinforces the promise of the RPA category and empowers our customers to achieve greater business agility and increased efficiencies by automating end-to-end business processes — bridging the gap between the front and back office.”

Automation Anywhere’s platform employs software robots that make processes self-running in a range of industries, including (but not limited to) financial services, healthcare, insurance, life sciences, manufacturing, and telecommunications. Using a combination of traditional RPA and cognitive elements like unstructured data processing and natural language understanding, its machine learning-powered systems can crunch through tasks that normally take hundreds of thousands of employees.

The company’s spotlight solutions are IQ Bot, which learns by observing human behavior, and the Automation Anywhere Bot Store, a marketplace of prebuilt bots for common tasks. The latter offers more than 500 ready-to-download bots configured for difference tasks and software environments, while the former taps AI and machine learning to self-improve over time. IQ Bot further integrates with other automation solutions, like IBM Watson, conducting phonetic algorithm and fuzzy string matching against enterprise apps to validate and enrich data.

As for Automation Anywhere’s mobile app for Android and iOS, it affords control over bot activity for both attended and unattended RPA and customizable alerts that can be used to track activity. Operations managers and practitioners can monitor bot performance from a comprehensive dashboard and connect with RPA enthusiasts in a members-only forum or pause and start activity with the push of a button.

Both custom-tailored and preconfigured bots can automate specific tasks and workflows or segments of defined job roles, leading to a claimed 70% speedup in business processes and 50% lower deployment costs. Automation Anywhere says that most of its customers automate 70% of repetitive tasks within four weeks.

Automation Anywhere competes with heavyweights in a market that’s anticipated to be worth $3.97 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. In April, UiPath nabbed $568 million at a $7 billion valuation for its suite of AI-imbued process automation tools, while rival Kryon in February secured $40 million. Elsewhere, Softmotive raised a $25 million tranche from a host of investors, shortly ahead of Automation Hero’s $14.5 million raise in March.

But investors like Salesforce Service Cloud executive vice president and general manager Bill Patterson believe Automation Anywhere has the momentum (its clients have deployed 1.6 million bots to date) to stand out from the crowd.

“Automation Anywhere makes it easier for Salesforce customers to automate repetitive, manual tasks and focus on what matters most — the customer,” said Patterson. “We’re excited to extend our partnership with Automation Anywhere to help more customers automate their end-to-end business processes and accelerate their digital transformation journeys.”

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