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Pandemic has a silver lining for Brit automation merchant Blue Prism: Revenue up 70% for first half of fiscal 2020

Makes sense while enterprises wrestle with new ways of working

The hackneyed saying that revenue is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is reality might easily be applied to Blue Prism, the vendor of software robots and automation tools.

The business bulked up its top line by 70 per cent year-on-year to £68.5m in the six months to 30 April 2020 [42-page PDF], yet it is still loss-making, and those losses increased to £41.7m compared to a loss of £35m.

Although Blue Prism is pushing for global expansion, its largest chunk of revenue, 48 per cent, came from EMEA. The Americas provided 39 per cent of revenue and APAC 13 per cent.

The company's continuing growth shows that appetite for automation is strong during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other software companies, it is claiming that restrictions on work and movement may help accelerate investment in automation technologies.

In a bid to make the case, Blue Prism paid Sapio Research to survey 6,700 knowledge workers and senior IT decision-makers about their automation plans. It found 78 per cent of business leaders see robotic process automation (RPA) as a way of solving the global productivity problem, while 92 per cent see it as a catalyst for driving digital transformation.

Investment is not far behind. The survey also found 92 per cent of C-suite execs were looking to deploy and extend RPA throughout their organisations. Far from taking jobs away, survey respondents thought RPA might be responsible for creating and enhancing jobs, saving time and costs, accelerating and improving work quality, and making organisations more innovative.

Only 33 per cent said they feared job loss in the next three years as RPA and automation continue to take root in the workplace.

Earlier this year analyst firm Forrester said companies should revisit automation with renewed vigour as the COVID-19 crisis gradually eases. Before the pandemic, 57 per cent of global data and analytics decision-makers at enterprises said their company had implemented automation technologies or was in the process of doing so.

But these automation initiatives were sprawling and disconnected, Forrester said.

It encouraged companies to re-evaluate and re-scope existing automation plans to serve the recovery cycle. They should assess localised investments in chatbots, AI or RPA to find out if they have broad-based applicability and value, Forrester said.

The pandemic certainly has not affected the appetite for investment in RPA vendors. In April 2020, after the UK entered its COVID-19 lockdown, Blue Prism raised £100m in funding. It also appointed veteran AI exec Jason Kingdon as the new CEO, replacing co-founder Alastair Bathgate. ®

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