Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the planned acquisition of Softomotive, a UK-headquartered robotic process automation (RPA) software company with roots in Greece. With the intended purchase, Microsoft has muscled into the RPA game in a big way and, in doing so, removed any doubts that RPA has really arrived. Expect others to follow suit with a buying spree and resulting shakeout of the weaker players. Given the current recession and focus on projects that reduce cost, the timing could not be better. Most of Softomotive's 8,000-plus customers are single users or small work groups.
As it does annually, Microsoft is making available today its plans for new features it will be adding to Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform starting in the fall. On July 8, Microsoft is publishing its 2020 "Release Wave 2" plans. This is a collection of hundreds of new features, both incremental and more substantial, which Microsoft will be rolling out to customers between October 2020 and March 2021. Microsoft will be making some of these coming features available for early access for testing and validation purposes in non-production environments starting August 3, 2020. Rollout of the Wave 2 features begins on October 1, 2020.
Power Automate is Microsoft's platform for streamlining repetitive workflows -- you may remember it under its original name: Microsoft Flow. The market for these robotic process automation (RPA) tools is hot right now, so it's no surprise that Microsoft, too, is doubling down on its platform. Only a few months ago, the team launched Power Automate Desktop, based on its acquisition of Softomotive, which helps users automate workflows in legacy desktop-based applications, for example. After a short time in preview, Power Automate Desktop is now generally available. The real news today, though, is that the team is also launching a new tool, the Process Advisor, which is now in preview as part of the Power Automate platform.
Microsoft this week expanded into process capture and analytics with the release of Microsoft Process Advisor. This extends the reach of Microsoft Power Automate, the company's robotic process automation (RPA) and cloud integration platform. These updates will help Microsoft's Power Automate strategy scale beyond RPA into the broader hyperautomation market, which Gartner expects to grow from $481.6 billion in 2020 to $596 billion in 2022. "The idea of'automating automation' is core to our strategy," Microsoft Power Automate product manager Stephen Siciliano told VentureBeat. Process Advisor gives organizations the ability to capture processes for further analysis or as templates for creating more full-fledged automations, he added.
Microsoft announced AI-focused Power Platform products at its Microsoft Ignite 2021 conference, which kicked off in earnest today. Among the highlights is Power Automate Desktop for Windows 10 users, a robotic process automation service (RPA) that automates tasks within Windows across various apps. New Power Virtual Agents features were also unveiled. RPA -- technology that automates monotonous, repetitive chores traditionally performed by human workers -- is big business. Forrester estimates that RPA and other AI subfields created jobs for 40% of companies in 2019 and that a tenth of startups now employ more digital workers than human ones.