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Microsoft Buys Softomotive: RPA Wakeup Call for MSPs, Channel Partners

Microsoft, as expected, has acquired Softomotive -- a developer of robotic process automation (RPA) software. Softomotive will tuck into the Microsoft Power Automate business -- and strive to enable "everyone to create bots to automate manual business processes."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed the acquisition during his Build 2020 keynote today.

This is M&A deal number 215 that ChannelE2E has covered so far in 2020. See the complete M&A deal list here.

Microsoft Buys Softomotive: Channel Partner, MSP Implications

The Microsoft-Softomotive deal is a wake-up call for thousands of MSPs and channel partners that are late to the RPA revolution.

RPA software allows businesses to write code and bots that rapidly automate tasks across multiple departments — from IT service desks to HR, finance, customer support and more. Much of the RPA software industry focuses on enterprise customers. Still, RPA may even eventually catch on in the SMB market as MSPs seek to further automate internal and customer operations.

Microsoft explains the market opportunity this way:

"Together with Microsoft Power Automate, WinAutomation will provide customers additional options for RPA desktop authoring so anyone can build a bot and automate Windows-based tasks. The combined offering will also enable RPA connectivity to many new apps and services including SAP and traditional green-screen terminal applications."

The global robotic process automation market is expected to reach $10.7 billion by 2027, expanding at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 33.6% from 2020 to 2027, according to Grand View Research Inc.

Microsoft's key rivals in the RPA software market include Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath, among many others. Also, ServiceNow has been developing workflow automation tools for its fast-growing IT Service Management platform -- which many large MSPs are embracing.

Despite the RPA market's rapid growth, the sector has also faced economic challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic. The evidence: Both UiPath and Automate Anywhere have had targeted layoffs in recent months.

Microsoft Buys Softomotive: Channel Partner, MSP Implications

Starting today, all existing Power Automate customers can leverage WinAutomation to automate legacy tasks in the cloud or on their desktops, Microsoft says. The capabilities are available at no additional cost to customers with an RPA attended license in Power Automate.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.