RPA technology provider SS&C Blue Prism has an undeniable pedigree. One of the pioneers of process automation software, the company was even involved in coining the term “robotic process automation.” But, while it was always thought of as one of RPA’s “Big Three” (along with Automation Anywhere and UiPath), rumors that it would sell itself began to emerge in the marketplace late last year.
After nearly being snapped up by private equity firm Vista, global financial software and software-as-a-service giant SS&C made a successful bid last winter to acquire Blue Prism for $1.6 billion. The acquisition closed in March of 2022 but Blue Prism’s coming out party as part of SS&C happened earlier this month at the technology conglomerate’s annual SS&C Deliver conference in Orlando, Fla.
SS&C is a technology company with nearly 27,000 employees worldwide and an enormous software and software-enabled services portfolio of brands primarily focused on the financial services industry. They specialize in technology and services for fund administration, wealth management, accounting, investment management and private markets.
As a software company serving various financial services verticals, SS&C is well aware of the efficiencies intelligent automation can deliver back-office environments in finance, insurance, accounting, fund administration and other markets it serves. Integrating Blue Prism’s technology with its Chorus intelligent automation practice for its existing clients and new customers has been a stated goal since the acquisition was announced. But the opportunities to put Blue Prism’s pioneering RPA technology to work internally are just as exciting for SS&C leadership.
At Deliver 2022, RPA Today sat down with SS&C leaders including Chairman and CEO Bill Stone; Managing Director Mike Megaw; Gautam Moorjani, General Manager of Intelligent Automation Solutions and Dr. Lou Bachenheimer, CTO for SS&C Blue Prism SS&C, to discuss what has been happening since the acquisition closed and what users can expect out of Blue Prism now that it is part of one of the largest financial software services providers in the world.
Adding RPA to Vertically Integrated Software and Services
Moorjani, an RPA veteran with experience at WorkFusion and in the intelligent automation services practice at PwC, has spent the last seven months integrating Blue Prism’s RPA platform with SS&C’s intelligent automation platform to bring their capabilities together. SS&C is in an interesting spot. As a service provider, it often consults with clients on how to integrate products into a multi-vendor strategy, but as a vendor, it has an eye on a vertically integrated strategy.
“As a vendor community, we kind of took the market down a path that said it’s okay to have a multi-vendor strategy—you can stitch together all these solutions,” Moorjani noted. “And the services providers all jumped on top of that. But, in the end, that’s incredibly hard to manage and maintain. So we hypothesize that you bring together services and a single platform that’s easy to run, upgrade, and manage. Providing a common look and feel, a single platform, and the ability to scale is progress.”
While integrating Blue Prism’s RPA into SS&C’s intelligent automation platform is a daunting task, Bachenheimer said the new capabilities the company has access to make him feel like “a kid in a candy store.”
RPA, he said, is amazing for automating individual tasks, but it can’t end there. There are people involved in end-to-end processes that an RPA digital worker doesn’t account for.
“You can’t do straight-through automated processing until you add things like BPM,” Bachenheimer noted. “You have to have a way to look at what people are doing, too. Imagine you have a 10-step process that has to close each month. A digital worker might be doing steps seven, eight and ten, but people are doing earlier steps. If you’re only monitoring the digital workers, you’re not going to know they need to account for the five people who were out sick earlier that week. But if you’re monitoring the whole thing, the way you can do it through a BPM tool or process mining, you can figure that out in advance. You use predictive analytics and machine learning to dynamically assign more digital workers to those work queues and make up that time, so you still hit your SLAs.”
According to Moorjani, it always comes back to the problems clients have to solve. Blue Prism’s technology was a missing piece for many of SS&C’s clients. Adding RPA to its arsenal will benefit clients who are already using RPA and those who aren’t.
Eating Your Own Dog Food
A leap of faith clients of software services providers often are forced to make is taking the consultant’s advice on technology when they don’t really have any skin in the game. SS&C, however, will not have that problem.
CEO Bill Stone notes that SS&C’s vertical strategy has resulted in a stable of experts he would put up against any global services company.
“If you’re talking about hedge fund accounting, private equity valuations, insurance investment accounting, taxes, we have as much expertise as any other organization in the world,” he says.
One result of that expertise is that SS&C could recognize the value of Blue Prism’s technology, especially in the financial services field, where RPA found early purchase and success. They also recognized that for an organization as large as SS&C, deployment of the technology internally was going to be nearly as important as deploying it for external clients.
“Any technologies at SS&C where we’ve had success with external implementations are where we’ve ‘eaten our dog food,'” said Megaw. “As a result of using the same systems, we understand our client’s pain points. We know exactly where we need to add value to a platform or enhance something because we’ve put ourselves in the same position as our customers.”
The internal deployment will enable SS&C to have a better, more comprehensive and honest dialogue with customers about the relative merits of its intelligent automation platform. Not only will that allow the company to be more agile about enhancing the product, according to Megaw, but it will also enable many of the nearly 27,000 SS&C employees to benefit from a sophisticated intelligent automation platform that includes RPA.
While acknowledging that change can be painful, Bachenheimer predicts most existing customers will upgrade to the newest version of the platform and derive exciting new benefits. He said the company has focused on improving the integrations between the SS&C and the Blue Prism technologies.
“We expect very soon to be able to export data directly from Chorus BPM into Blue Prism Process Intelligence for more enhanced monitoring capabilities,” he said, noting one new capability that users will experience. “And we are working on improving the ability to get automations out the door faster.”
According to Stone, the future for Blue Prism RPA as part of a well-capitalized, well-resourced and technologically advanced SS&C will be even brighter than that.
“We’re in the trenches every day,” he said. “We have 20,000 customers. The resources we will pour into this platform is like nothing the industry has ever seen. We will far outstrip the competitors.”
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