RPA development in most cases still takes months and requires costly maintenance. To improve this situation, RPA tech providers are building an RPA ecosystem:

  • RPA companies develop the RPA software and build RPA marketplaces to attract developers who extend capabilities of RPA
  • Software developer publish reusable plugins on RPA marketplaces to monetize their software
  • Consultants and system integrators implement RPA solutions using RPA software and RPA marketplaces

This guide aims to explain each part of the ecosystem so you know the full range of tools at your disposal as your company implements RPA solutions.

Why is an RPA ecosystem required?

It’s no surprise that RPA tech providers are building an RPA ecosystem. As in any successful technology such as automative, operating systems, smart phones or cloud computing, RPA also requires an ecosystem to gain mainstream acceptance.

Most ecosystems have one of 3 critical parts: Applications, implementation partners, innovative startups

Application marketplaces in case of operating systems and smart phones enable new capabilities customized for the needs of a specific group of users. Companies at the heart of ecosystems could also build these solutions themselves but that would take time and require expensive experimentation since most apps fail.

Almost any tech solution that requires integration work creates its own industry of integration partners. Implementation partners allow tech companies to focus on product and retain high margins. Implementation partners deal with the complexities of managing a labor intensive business and compete among themselves, ensuring that implementation costs are as low as possible for customers, reducing the obstacles to buy the tech product.

Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce all heavily rely on implementation partners because integrating their software into complex enterprise systems require time and effort. They could take on the implementation themselves and they sometimes do this for top clients but doing all implementation work would create a massive, difficult to manage organization with low margins which focuses on implementation.

Tech solutions tend to be iterative and an important share of disruptive changes come from startups that disrupt existing technologies or business models. Since they are the leaders of the industry, companies at the center of tech solutions tend to

  • focus on needs of the general market
  • support existing, profitable business models

Therefore, they tend to generate incremental innovations, serving the general market rather than disruptive innovations that shape markets. In the mobile market, Google was the innovator in operating systems (OS). As a late comer into the mobile game, Google launched a free/open source OS that became far more commonplace than iOS, the OS that started the smartphone mobile OS category.

Which companies are building RPA ecosystems?

RPA companies with the most funding; Automation Anywhere, UiPath and BluePrism already launched their marketplaces. Given the scale of competition in the market, we expect WorkFusion to announce their marketplace in 2019 as well.

Additionally, emerging RPA companies are building innovative solutions serving different segments of the market. While they are not market leaders today, they could be the companies to define the market in the next 5-10 years. For example, Python is one of the most popular and fastest growing developing languages but RPA tools built with Python are relatively limited. An emerging RPA company, Argos Labs built their RPA platform on Python so Python libraries can easily be embedded into Argos Labs’ RPA solutions.

We examined the marketplaces so far, developers contributing to them and their traction in our article on RPA marketplaces.

What are the important parts of the RPA ecosystem?

The RPA technology providers, developers that build RPA applications and RPA implementation partners that use RPA technology and RPA apps to build automation solutions for companies. For more information on different parts of the ecosystem, please read our comprehensive article covering each part of the ecosystem:

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