Has Integrated Automation conquered the land RPA and AI once battled for?

Contributed by Principal Analyst Carl Lehmann 

Much the way Winter came for the Game of Thrones heroes in the new season (we promise this is the only Game of Thrones reference and we will not share any spoilers), there is talk spreading in the tech industry that Integrated Automation has come to displace tools like robotic process automation (RPA). We certainly don’t disagree, in fact, we predicted back in 2017 that RPA companies would likely not survive as stand-alone vendors.

In this report from April 2017, we predicted that RPA vendors that focused only on automating repetitive tasks, while very welcome in many IT departments in the short term, would be less likely to survive as stand-alone vendors compared to more sophisticated platforms that can call upon various machine-learning (ML) technologies to add contextual awareness and guidance of unstructured interactions toward desired outcomes. Even RPA platforms that can automate based on rules, conditional routing and logical operations, and modify behavior based on their learnings were also considered tech that would likely be subsumed into ML platforms of hyperscale CSPs, IT leviathans and tool kits of larger systems integrators, according to our analysts. In our opinion, it was unlikely RPA would last long as a stand-alone product.

Again in August 2017, our analyst team noted a rising trend with BPM software transforming into a process- and content-oriented application development and runtime platform, which we coined as 'digital automation platform' (DAP). DAPs, as referenced in the report, will emerge as uniform development, integration and runtime environments that enable intelligent process automation (IPA) – a managerial discipline focused on intuitive user experiences, contextual awareness and transparent execution. Much like what others are describing as Integrated Automation today, DAP would require RPA capabilities – to create software 'bots' that automate repetitive human activities in business processes – and AI integration – to expose 'next best guess' activities for application developers and users (process stakeholders) and extract insight – in one solution. In particular, RPA was cited to “likely become a core enabling technology in several DAP vendors' offerings.” 

In short, DAPs and Integrated Automation sound less like the death of RPA and similar technologies, and more like the next logical evolution toward accelerating business operations and making them efficient. Both describe feature-rich development platforms for content- and process-oriented applications, and a method to extract knowledge from automated execution to meet the innovation and operational efficiency needs of enterprises. In fact, our most recent research highlighting this evolution (in this spotlight report, now available for public access) covers why we believe the core tools needed to discover and effect how value and advantage are created include next-generation DAPs, RPA technology, hybrid integration platforms (HIPs), and process mining technologies (PMT) platforms. 451 Research clients can access all Market Insight reports on RPA and DAP and beyond in our Research Dashboard. Don’t have access? Apply for a Trial.

Much the way Winter has come for the Game of Thrones heroes in the new season (we promise this is the only Game of Thrones reference and we will not share any spoilers), there is talk spreading in the tech industry that Integrated Automation has come to displace tools like robotic process automation (RPA). We certainly don’t disagree, in fact we predicted back in 2017 that RPA companies would likely not survive as a stand-alone vendors.

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Global Colocation and Wholesale Datacenter Market to Exceed $54 Billion by 2023

Today, we released projections that the global colocation and wholesale market will exceed $54 billion in revenue by 2023, according to its latest quarterly Datacenter KnowledgeBase (DCKB) – which now tracks more than 6,100 facilities and 1,535 datacenter providers worldwide.
451 Research estimates that by the end of 2018, the market had $38.2 billion in revenue. Equinix and Digital Realty remained the global leaders with 9.9% and 6.3% market share, respectively.
As for global colocation and wholesale datacenter supply, in terms of net operational square feet, 451 Research analysts expect to see an overall five-year CAGR of 6% by 2023, while global demand is anticipated to be slightly higher at a 7% CAGR.
“Cloud provider demand continues to drive strong growth in the top datacenter markets and we expect that to spread beyond the top 20 global markets in the coming years,” said Kelly Morgan, VP of Datacenter Services & Infrastructure. “Some individual markets may see supply growth of 20% or higher, while other slower-growth markets will offset that to provide single-digit growth overall.”
DCKB Global MTDC SQ Supply & Demand
About Datacenter KnowledgeBase
The Datacenter KnowledgeBase (DCKB) database covers more than 6,100 individual datacenters operated by 1,500+ datacenter companies serving North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia Pacific (APAC) and Latin America (LATAM). The DCKB tracks colocation and wholesale datacenter facilities globally, and providers insight into facility capacity and capability, investment and expansion opportunities, and future facility builds.
This unique database provides the industry’s most authoritative and comprehensive set of datacenter intelligence, covering more than 100 metrics per facility. The 451 Research team gathers data from primary sources including on-site visits, assessments and direct outreach, to validate and collect this data directly from datacenter operators.

Not a current subscriber of the DCKB? Learn more.

451 Research, a leading technology analyst and advisory firm, today released projections that the global colocation and wholesale market revenue will exceed $54 billion by 2023, according to its latest quarterly Datacenter KnowledgeBase (DCKB) – which now tracks more than 6,100 datacenters in 1,535 companies worldwide.


451 Research estimates that by the end of 2018, the colocation and wholesale market saw $38.2 billion in revenue – 85% of which are currently tracked in the latest Datacenter KnoweldgeBase. Equinix and Digital Realty remained the global leaders with 9.9% and 6.3% share respectively.


As for global MTDC supply – in terms of Net Operational Square Footage – 451 Research analysts expect to see an overall five-year CAGR of 6% by 2023, while global demand is anticipated to reach a slightly higher CAGR at 7%.

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Introducing the 451 Firestarters Award Recipients for Q1 2019

In October 2018, we announced our first set of 451 Firestarters award winners, recognizing exceptional innovation in the technology industry.  Today, we are excited to announce the next group of 451 Firestarters; our Q1 2019 award recipients.

The 451 Firestarters program is exclusively analyst-led, providing our team of industry technology experts with the opportunity to recognize exceptional innovation in the technology industry, regardless of its origin, and based on the simple, yet rigorous, criterion of impressing our team of analysts. This is no mean feat considering our analysts speak to several hundreds of companies at the cutting edge of technology innovation and disruption every year. There are no quotas to fill, and this is in no way a ‘pay to play.’ Any company or technology that we believe could substantially disrupt an existing market – or even create a new market category – has the potential to become a 451 Firestarter.

Each 451 Firestarter awardee falls into one of the four major ‘megatrends’ outlined in the 4SIGHT research framework: Contextual Experience, Invisible Infrastructure, Pervasive Intelligence and Universal Risk.

Below, we are delighted to announce the Q1 2019 451 Firestarters. (in alphabetical order):

BigID – Universal Risk
BigID works to change how companies can protect and manage the privacy of personal data in the face of new breaches and new regulations on data protection.

Concertio – Invisible Infrastructure
Concertio’s suite of tools allow hardware and software systems to work together as seamlessly as possible.

Dragos – Universal Risk
Dragos offers a comprehensive ICS cybersecurity solution to ensure its customers have the tools and knowledge to establish a resilient and adaptable security posture.

Filament – Pervasive Intelligence
Filament offers complete solutions that include hardware, software and services that integrate blockchain technology into an enterprise.

HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems – Pervasive Intelligence
HPE’s Edgeline Converged Edge System converges operational technology like data acquisition systems, control systems and industrial networks already in play at the edge which should result in lower operating and energy expenses.

Immuta – Pervasive Intelligence
Immuta has created a data management platform for data science. Data scientists connect your tools to their solution and the company has governance professionals work on policies for you to help comply with industry regulations.

Itential – Invisible Infrastructure
The Itential software helps accelerate the move to software-driven networks as a portion of an enterprise’s digital transformation.

OSIsoft – Pervasive Intelligence
OSIsoft provides an open enterprise infrastructure that connects sensor data and systems with the people who need to leverage that information to better the business.

Terminus – Contextual Experience
Terminus aims to be the end-to-end solution for marketing and sales departments to identify and prioritize key accounts and engage with them across multiple channels through targeted outreach.

Vonage Technologies – Contextual Experience
Cloud communications provider that has redefined unified communications as an open platform built on APIs that enable organizations to customize their own applications.

Weaveworks – Invisible Infrastructure
Weaveworks’ cloud-based solution simplifies the deployment and management of containers and microservices as companies move to be more cloud-native.

Please join us in congratulating our Q1 2019 451 Firestarters! Of course, we hope you will agree with our selections, and will use this as an opportunity to find out more about them. We welcome, and encourage, feedback; this is an opportunity for you to engage with a world-class analyst team whose coverage spans the emerging digital technology landscape. If your organization is actively engaged with our analyst team, then that is your chance to impress us, and potentially become a 451 Firestarter, too!

More detailed insight around all the 451 Firestarter award winners is available to clients via our Research Dashboard. Not a client? Apply for Trial access.

that has redefined unified communications as an open platform built on APIs that enable organizations to customize their own applications
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Critical for Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Contextual Commerce is Convenience, Context and Control

Written by: Sheryl Kingstone, Research Vice President & General Manager - VOCUL

The holiday season is right around the corner and so are the notorious shopping holidays of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. According to our Voice of the Connected User Landscape survey, 80% of respondents plan to spend the same as the previous year and the remaining 20% plan to modify their spending. Whether those modifications involve an increase or decrease in spending is difficult to determine based on trends with those respondents being almost evenly split – with 38% expected to spend more than last year and 45% expected to spend less.

With this in mind, we don’t anticipate how much people are spending to be of great interest, but rather where people are buying what they need this holiday season. According to our Global Unified Commerce Forecast, there could be nearly $6 trillion in global digital commerce sales by 2022 up for grabs. That is still a ways away, but digital commerce is still anticipated to dominate holiday spending shopping behavior with 42% of respondents planning to do most of their shopping online rather than in store – a 27% increase in online spending from last year. Additionally, 47% of high-income shoppers will do the majority of their shopping through digital commerce channels.
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Is IBM-Red Hat deal reaction a sign of mega-deal fatigue? New survey sounds off

Key Analyst: Jay Lyman, Principal Analyst, Cloud Native and DevOps

Last week, we offered some initial thoughts about the IBM-Red Hat acquisition. We talked about how it seemed a strong move in favor of hybrid cloud strategies, although somewhat bittersweet for a disruptive, open source software leader like Red Hat to be acquired. Since then, we checked in with our 451 Alliance, surveying several hundred enterprise leaders to get their sentiments on the deal, as we did three years ago in a similar Voice of the Enterprise survey about Dell-EMC.
IBM Red Hat survey blog image 1 overall impressionsAt first look, the overall impression about IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat was predominately neutral (40%), with only 20% of respondents saying they feel at least somewhat positive about the announcement, and 23% saying they feel somewhat negative. Looking at this data made us think about our 2015 survey on the $67 billion Dell-EMC deal. Similarly, respondents to the Dell-EMC survey felt mostly neutral about the deal (50%), although other responses leaned more positive when compared to the IBM-Red Hat acquisition survey, where 24% felt somewhat positive and only 16% felt somewhat negative.

While the majority of respondents to both surveys had a neutral outlook, the IBM-Red Hat acquisition has a more negative impression by comparison. This acquisition should carry the same weight of the Dell-EMC acquisition, even though one is more focused on hardware compared to software. So why is the sentiment so different? It may be a case of mega-deal fatigue.
IBM Red Hat survey blog image 2 negative impression reasonsWhen respondents were asked why they felt negatively about the IBM-Red Hat deal, the top reasons were: the companies are not a good fit (22%), there will be more vendor lock-in (20%), and this deal will limit product innovation (13%). Considering the IBM/Red Hat survey's open-ended responses, many of our neutral respondents had an apprehensive and confused tone. In addition, a lot of them want to be sure that IBM doesn’t change the Red Hat model and products, while others don’t understand the value of the acquisition. 

As one respondent put it in the open-ended verbatim section of the survey: “Technology companies continue to purchase other technology companies, thus reducing the solution landscape. Consolidation continues and that is not a particularly a good thing.”

Despite this M&A fatigue, the way we look at it, M&A deals in this space can be defined as successful if “1+1=3.” In other words, something new and impactful needs to result from the deal. The key question is whether IBM can truly maintain Red Hat’s independence, model and culture and thus its value in the market. The potential is in continued availability and integration of Red Hat software such as RHEL and OpenShift across the major public cloud providers, and the power of IBM’s sales and channel to sell it. The peril lies in Red Hat simply getting absorbed into IBM – as we’ve seen with previous Big Blue acquisitions such as Informix, Rational Software and SoftLayer.
IBM Red Hat survey blog image 3 positive impressionsWhile IBM and Red Hat represent very different cultures, they are both open source-savvy companies – a point that survey respondents seem to acknowledge. They also highlight multi-cloud improvements as a driver of positive sentiment about the deal. Respondents with a positive outlook on the deal believe open source (21%) and multi-cloud (18%) will improve as a result. 

Our survey results indicate a muted impact in the minds of enterprise IT professionals, who may have grown weary of mega-deals and more limited options in the market. There is customer concern around culture clash, vendor lock-in, and diminished innovation. However, there is also customer enthusiasm for a complementary pairing, open source and multi-cloud improvement as the acquisition unfolds.

IBM and Red Hat are no strangers, having collaborated extensively on critical enterprise software such as Linux and OpenStack in the past. If the combined company can build on those collaborations and integrations, while also maintaining the critical collaborations and integrations Red Hat has independently forged with the likes of AWS, Google and Microsoft, then customers stand to benefit. If IBM imposes significant changes in how Red Hat or its employees operate, then customer fears about another good set of technology lost to consolidation may, unfortunately, be realized.

We will have more content on this deal coming soon in the Research Dashboard. For now, check out this deal analysis.

Our Voice of the Enterprise research offers survey-based insight into the minds of IT decision makers, and tracks sentiment and intentions about technology adoption, IT spending priorities and drivers, and vendor selection. Voice of the Enterprise: Servers & Converged Infrastructure provides ongoing enterprise perspectives on the shift from traditional servers to new, hybrid approaches to computing.
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