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Technology / AI and automation

Blue Prism launches robotic integration tool

The firm, focused primarily on financial services, retail, utilities and telecoms, said Automate V3 offers web services, API and user interface integration, screen scraping, and data aggregation in a box. It’s pitching the product as a tactical and faster alternative to more traditional enterprise application integration (EAI) techniques.

The company said Automate is robotic in the sense that it does not require business users to write bespoke code in order to create integrated business processes.

Whilst most tactical integration tools are suitable for simple tasks, Automate has been developed with the enterprise in mind, said Alastair Bathgate, MD Blue Prism, allowing complex and high volume processes to be run in a centrally controlled and secure environment.

Bathgate added that, Automate enables users to solve a number of business challenges including: how to connect heterogeneous legacy/target applications using ‘robotic integration’; how to build these interfaces into executable business processes and how to deploy processes securely across the network in a scalable way.

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Based in Manchester, England, Blue Prism counts Barclays Bank, Co-operative Bank, CIS, The Woolwich, npower, Carlsberg, Orange and Vodafone among its customers.

Founded in 2001, the start-up released Automate in 2003. The firm took on investment from Rising Stars Growth Fund in 2004, sinking it largely into R&D and ramping up its support. Version 2 came out in 2005 with specific features for large scale processing, and the company began pitching Automate as a product for data cleansing and migration as well as the automation of clerical processes.

It moved beyond its heritage in retail banking last year, and took on another round of funding from Rising Stars, Merseyside Special Investment Fund and Endeavour Ventures.

Bathgate co-founded Blue Prism with David Moss, technical director and chief software architect behind Blue Prism Automate. Moss had spent five years working for Lynx Financial Systems as software architect, providing packaged and bespoke systems to major names in financial services such as Barclays Bank, Nationwide Building Society, and BMW Financial Services. Bathgate has been in software since 1996, before which he held various management positions at a major bank.

Our View

Blue Prism already has an impressive if moderate customer roster suggesting its technology does what it claims it does. As well as Bathgate and Moss it has the benefit of being chaired by Richard Hargreaves, who was at 3i for 10 years before founding Baronsmead and then Endeavour Ventures.

The company is still in start-up mode as evidenced by a somewhat basic web site. A cursory glance at the limited number of press mentions on its site suggest it may even be time for the co-founders to bring in a CEO with experience of growing software companies to the next stage in their development.

While one might argue that it is competing in a crowded business process integration market with the likes of heavyweights BEA, Oracle, SAP and IBM, it is in reality more likely to come up against less expensive and more tactical offerings from the likes of Attachmate, Seagull and NetManage. Even against those firms it’s still a minnow, but after all you have to start somewhere and tactical process integration is as good a place as any.

Surely not the first company you would turn to for a broad business process re-engineering initiative then, but worth a look for so-called quick-win integration projects that predominantly bring together disparate systems at the user interface layer.
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CBR Staff Writer

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