The Bottom Line: As enterprises switch focus from automating tasks to end-to-end processes, the need for help from niche automation service providers booms
The enterprise demand for niche automation services is growing as the focus switches from tasks to end-to-end processes. The dominant technology remains robotic process automation (RPA), contributing an average of 61% to enterprise engagements, as we found in our recent HFS OneOffice Services Top 10: Native Automation, 2021 study. However, the shift to end-to-end needs is reflected in the use of diverse emerging technologies in such engagements, with process intelligence (52%) and intelligent document processing (34%) among those most regularly deployed alongside RPA.
Growing demand means plenty of room at the table supporting the enterprise journey, with a growing pie to share. How big a portion qBotica gets to chow down on depends on its M&A choices. They must reflect and reinforce the qBotica ecosystem approach since it is the access to diverse technologies that this approach offers that matches so well with the growing enterprise hunger for support in end-to-end, cross-silo, OneOffice processes. Get it right, and qBotica can wave goodbye to the tinkering about in the automation centers of excellence and say hello to the CEO’s need for outcome-focused solutions.
One million dollars – enough to pave the way for expansion
One million dollars doesn’t sound like it will go far amid the noise of the automation services sector, but former HFS Hot Vendor qBotica says its recently acquired seed funding paves the way for its automation ecosystem approach to expand beyond enterprise automation centers of excellence (CoE).
qBotica will use the investment to provide time and bandwidth to make real its near-term expansion plans, which include acquisitions and mergers in Europe either funded from further investments or in equity swaps.
The Phoenix, Arizona-based firm was founded in 2017 to drive efficiencies for firms, using RPA as a start point. It was named an HFS Hot Vendor in Q4 2019. It uses the power of RPA to provide a foundation for process transformation.
The scale-up targets enterprise-wide service delivery
For qBotica, RPA is the practical gateway to intelligent automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. It takes an “automation ecosystem” approach from a baseline of RPA, helping clients tackle more complex needs with additional tooling as necessary, such as intelligent document processing, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning.
In scaling up, qBotica intends to earn the right to be heard beyond the automation CoE. It believes there is a place in the enterprise for hungry and focused niche players to help create a service delivery platform for the whole enterprise.
That platform, argues qBotica, should help the enterprise solve its problems—agnostic about which flavor RPA is deployed to do the work. Too often, enterprise automation leaders find themselves having to become the internal champions for (resellers of) one RPA tool or another, says qBotica CEO Mahesh Vinayagam. Instead, automation service providers should be helping enterprises build their own platforms, abstracting automation principles away from the bots to apply to business problems.
M&A activity could tip qBotica into the automation services 100+ club
qBotica’s planned M&A activity could help it compete against an emerging set of automation service providers going for scale. With its first acquisition, it will join the industry’s 100+ headcount club alongside Roboyo (at 400+ people, having recently added JOLT) and compete with the likes of BP3, which scooped up Agilify to take its headcount to more than 100 in August 2021. Accelirate and Reveal Group are already in the 100+ headcount club, and Ashling Partners recently acquired Machina, as consolidation continues.
qBotica has been quietly scaling. Its revenues, which it prefers to keep private for the meantime, would have made raising more than its $1 million seed funding relatively easy. But Vinayagam runs a tight ship and prefers a carefully targeted cash injection, giving away comparatively little equity.
Profits from current revenues are committed to continuous investment in product improvement and funding a headcount that has grown to around 85, 35 of whom are focused on tech.
The seed funding enables investments in PR and marketing, honing web and other content, and supporting personnel development. The funding comes via micro-venture firm Peacock Ventures, a specialist in sales and lead generation.