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Microsoft Acquires Softomotive To Up Its Robotic Process Automation Chops

The London-based software developer offers WinAutomation, a low-code platform that enables solution providers to deploy AI to automate Windows desktop processes. Microsoft says it will merge that technology with its own Power Automate workflow automation solution.

Microsoft on Tuesday revealed the acquisition of Softomotive, a deal aiming to empower the software giant’s partners to create and deploy artificially intelligent bots that automate business workflows.

The London-based robotic process automation developer offers a popular platform, WinAutomation, used by more than 9,000 customers to automate Windows desktop processes involving both legacy and modern applications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Microsoft plans to merge that platform with Microsoft Power Automate to enhance its native capabilities for building bots and integrating apps from other software platforms, including SAP, Citrix and Java.

“By bringing Softomotive’s desktop automation together with the existing Microsoft Power Automate capabilities, at uniquely affordable pricing, Microsoft is further democratizing RPA and enabling everyone to create bots to automate manual business processes,” Charles Lamanna, Microsoft corporate vice president for Citizen Application Platform, wrote in a blog.

[Related: Microsoft Buying Metaswitch, ‘Setting The Table’ For Major 5G Play]

“Microsoft has the opportunity to do something pretty special here, especially if they evolve the offering to be part of an Azure consumption model in the context of RPA-as-a-service,” Darrin Nelson, vice president of software sales at Sirius Computer Solutions, told CRN.

Sirius, a Microsoft partner headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, fields a growing and successful AI automation practice, Nelson said.

Most of its engagements have involved conversational AI, or chatbots, that enterprises increasingly seek to deploy as digital assistants for internal use, such as help desk support, as well as customer facing digital experiences. But demand is also growing for RPA bots, which Sirius has mostly developed working with UiPath.

The Softomotive acquisition might convince Sirius to rely more on the Microsoft platform, Nelson said.

“Being a large Microsoft partner and doing quite a bit of bot work will certainly have us look more closely at this now-evolved Microsoft capabilities stack,” Nelson said. “Time will tell as to how much demand there will be in the RPA space and how competitive this new Microsoft offering will evolve to.”

Also Tuesday, at its Build conference, Microsoft announced an upgrade to its Power Platform to provide easier integrations with Teams--enabling capabilities such as quickly adding automated workflows and custom apps into the collaboration solution.

Power Automate has added Teams business process templates, Microsoft said, allowing developers of automated workflows to include pre-built templates or create customized ones.

“We are providing customers with additional choices for creating workflows in Power Automate,” Lamanna said in the Microsoft blog. “Now, anyone can build RPA bots with our existing browser-based authoring app or through a new desktop app with WinAutomation.”

The acquisition will enable Microsoft partners to expand out-of-the-box UI automation drivers for commonly used apps and services, Lamanna said.

“Microsoft is committed to providing the most robust set of RPA capabilities in one platform,” he said.

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