IBM makes its RPA move, acquires WDG Automation

The trend of large enterprise vendors acquiring smaller robotics process automation firms continues.

Enhancing robotic process automation with AI

IBM said that it will acquire WDG Automation, a Brazilian software provider specializing in robotic process automation.

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Terms of the deal, expected to close in the third quarter, weren't disclosed.

IBM said WDG Automation, formally known as WDG Soluções Em Sistemas E Automação De Processos LTDA, will enable it to embed RPA throughout its portfolio. IBM services will use WDG Automation for client digital transformation efforts and analytics and artificial intelligence workloads.

RPA is a hot space given that the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the need for automation and a few people even predicted IBM would acquire an RPA player as soon as CEO Arvind Krishna took over. After all, Krishna predicts every company will revolve around AI. While Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere, and Pegasystems are larger RPA vendors, enterprise software giants have started to buy smaller players. For instance, Microsoft recently acquired Softomotive. SAP acquired Contextor SAS. Appian bought Novayre Solutions SL.

Big Blue said the acquisition will enhance its current automation capabilities. WDG Automation's portfolio includes RPA, automation, interactive voice response, and chatbots, as well as technology to create automations without IT help.

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In addition, IBM plans to integrate 600 pre-built RPA functions from WDG Automation into its Cloud Pack for Automation. IBM also added that WDG Automation capabilities will be embedded into Watson AIOps and Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management.

WDG Automation's customer base is largely local and regional, but RPA is language agnostic. Michael Gilfix, vice president of cloud integration at IBM, said:

The RPA script execution is language independent, meaning they support local languages for data. The WDG technology supports Unicode data today. As we bring the technology to other markets, we will be translating the user interface and documentation to local languages to make it easy for international audiences to get started. And yes, WDG Automation is based in Brazil with local/regional clients, but IBM's intent to acquire WDG Automation is to further advance its comprehensive AI-infused automation capabilities, spanning business processes to IT operations.

Correction: A previous version of this article had WDA Automation instead of WDG Automation.