Enterprise

Google Cloud wants a bigger piece of the RPA market. Will Automation Anywhere help it?

A product-building partnership is the latest pairing between cloud vendors and RPA providers to help customers robotize their operations.

Assembly lines automate products. Can virtual robots do the same for business processes?

Assembly lines automate products. Can virtual robots do the same for business processes?

Google Cloud and Automation Anywhere are partnering to build a new suite of products to help enterprises automate their most basic job functions, the companies planned to announce Monday, the latest in a string of efforts by top cloud providers to harness the potential of robotic process automation.

The technology has been buzzed about for years but really found its footing during the pandemic. The market for it is now expected to grow at a double-digit pace, reaching $2 billion in annual sales by the end of 2021, per Gartner. And more are opting for RPA tools that live in the cloud.

"Many of our customers brought their 2023 or 2025 digital plans forward to this year or next year," Automation Anywhere CEO Mihir Shukla told Protocol. And "large customers are coming to us and deploying this capability to every single employee. I have never seen a true digital transformation at this scale before."

The Softbank-backed company's name is freshly apt. Hospitals like Cleveland Clinic used RPA to automate the process under which patients sign up for COVID-19 testing, KeyBank and other financial institutions deployed it to help businesses quickly tap federal assistance and call centers used the tech to aid agents in addressing the rising number of customer service inquiries.

Automation Anywhere and Google Cloud are by no means alone in this quest to robotize the enterprise. Legacy vendors like ServiceNow and SAP are trying to convince customers to deepen the reliance on their products, like using the same software supplier for both HR and IT. They argue that automation is easier when the systems are connected on the back end.

Vendors should pursue automation, said Kevin Ichhpurani, vice president of partnerships at Google Cloud. But the reality for many businesses is that they have established, disparate systems. For them, Ichhpurani said, "We see customers wanting Switzerland."

What Ichhpurani is describing — a neutral vendor that can help link applications from different providers — is an area where Automation Anywhere faces stiff competition. Companies like Workato (which has a separate partnership with Google Cloud) and MuleSoft aim to create a new unified data layer across the enterprise, enabling information to move seamlessly between the thousands of apps in use.

The goal: capturing the entirety of how an employee works, which is often using software from several providers; linking those pieces together; and automating the overall process. While individuals in HR may use Workday, for example, the IT team that has to supply new employees with laptops may use ServiceNow. Connecting those two applications though an API — as Workato, MuleSoft and others do — makes it easier for a company to onboard workers with very little human involvement.

Shukla argued there isn't any overlap, asserting that Workato's products "are designed to integrate a few specific applications." A more generalized approach to RPA can be used to integrate "thousands of thousands of applications" without needing to use an API.

"I'm not aware of any other technology available today that can do that," he said.

Amit Zavery, Google Cloud head's of platform, agreed, noting that while Workato and MuleSoft also serve as back-end connectors, the use of RPA allows companies to "go to the next level on top of it and bring those businesses processes a lot closer than the coding required by other services."

Google Cloud is moving a bit later than rivals into this space. Microsoft purchased RPA provider Softomotive in May for an undisclosed amount. And AWS partnered with UiPath in July so cloud customers can tap preconfigured integrations, such as infusing virtual robots into the call center by linking to AWS Connect. That deal looks very similar to Google Cloud and Automation Anywhere's venture.

The partnership between Automation Anywhere and Google Cloud started organically, with customers using the two products together on their own, per Ichhpurani. Now the vendors are "up-leveling the relationship" to more closely integrate their products.

Automation Anywhere customers will be able to run on other clouds, but the jointly developed products won't be able to take advantage of native integrations built for Google Cloud.

LA is a growing tech hub. But not everyone may fit.

LA has a housing crisis similar to Silicon Valley’s. And single-family-zoning laws are mostly to blame.

As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers, whose high salaries put them at an advantage in both LA's renting and buying markets.

Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

LA’s tech scene is on the rise. The number of unicorn companies in Los Angeles is growing, and the city has become the third-largest startup ecosystem nationally behind the Bay Area and New York with more than 4,000 VC-backed startups in industries ranging from aerospace to creators. As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers. The city is quickly becoming more and more like Silicon Valley — a new startup and a dozen tech workers on every corner and companies like Google, Netflix, and Twitter setting up offices there.

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Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

While there remains debate among economists about whether we are officially in a full-blown recession, the signs are certainly there. Like most executives right now, the outlook concerns me.

In any case, businesses aren’t waiting for the official pronouncement. They’re already bracing for impact as U.S. inflation and interest rates soar. Inflation peaked at 9.1% in June 2022 — the highest increase since November 1981 — and the Federal Reserve is targeting an interest rate of 3% by the end of this year.

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Nancy Sansom

Nancy Sansom is the Chief Marketing Officer for Versapay, the leader in Collaborative AR. In this role, she leads marketing, demand generation, product marketing, partner marketing, events, brand, content marketing and communications. She has more than 20 years of experience running successful product and marketing organizations in high-growth software companies focused on HCM and financial technology. Prior to joining Versapay, Nancy served on the senior leadership teams at PlanSource, Benefitfocus and PeopleMatter.

Policy

SFPD can now surveil a private camera network funded by Ripple chair

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a policy that the ACLU and EFF argue will further criminalize marginalized groups.

SFPD will be able to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks in certain circumstances.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ripple chairman and co-founder Chris Larsen has been funding a network of security cameras throughout San Francisco for a decade. Now, the city has given its police department the green light to monitor the feeds from those cameras — and any other private surveillance devices in the city — in real time, whether or not a crime has been committed.

This week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved a controversial plan to allow SFPD to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks during life-threatening emergencies, large events, and in the course of criminal investigations, including investigations of misdemeanors. The decision came despite fervent opposition from groups, including the ACLU of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which say the police department’s new authority will be misused against protesters and marginalized groups in a city that has been a bastion for both.

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Issie Lapowsky

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Enterprise

These two AWS vets think they can finally solve enterprise blockchain

Vendia, founded by Tim Wagner and Shruthi Rao, wants to help companies build real-time, decentralized data applications. Its product allows enterprises to more easily share code and data across clouds, regions, companies, accounts, and technology stacks.

“We have this thesis here: Cloud was always the missing ingredient in blockchain, and Vendia added it in,” Wagner (right) told Protocol of his and Shruthi Rao's company.

Photo: Vendia

The promise of an enterprise blockchain was not lost on CIOs — the idea that a database or an API could keep corporate data consistent with their business partners, be it their upstream supply chains, downstream logistics, or financial partners.

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Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Fintech

Kraken's CEO got tired of being in finance

Jesse Powell tells Protocol the bureaucratic obligations of running a financial services business contributed to his decision to step back from his role as CEO of one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Kraken is going through a major leadership change after what has been a tough year for the crypto powerhouse, and for departing CEO Jesse Powell.

The crypto market is still struggling to recover from a major crash, although Kraken appears to have navigated the crisis better than other rivals. Despite his exchange’s apparent success, Powell found himself in the hot seat over allegations published in The New York Times that he made insensitive comments on gender and race that sparked heated conversations within the company.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

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