Big Data

Skan raises $14 million to automate repetitive business processes with computer vision, an AI-enabled process discovery and operational intelligence platform, today closed $14 million in funding. The company says the proceeds will be put toward accelerating Skan’s go-to-market and product R&D efforts.

Process discovery and automation is understandably big business in the enterprise. Forrester estimates that robotic process automation (RPA) and related subfields created jobs for 40% of companies in 2019. According to a McKinsey survey, at least a third of activities could be automated in about 60% of occupations, which might be why Market and Markets anticipates the RPA market alone will be worth $493 billion by 2022.

Skan, the brainchild of entrepreneurs Avinash Misra and Manish Garg, combines data engineering with computer vision to synthesize traces of human and screen interactions, uncovering how workloads (e.g., underwriting, sales, customer onboarding, servicing, claims, invoicing, and fulfillment) are performed in an organization. The platform maps processes by observation on digital systems and continuously infers deep process maps.

In production, Skan, which works in the cloud or on-premises and doesn’t require access to backend data, places virtual process agents on desktops and captures digital interactions with Citrix terminals, Excel spreadsheets, browsers, notepads, and more using computer vision. The data are analyzed and synthesized to derive a process metamodel. Via this approach, Skan uncovers process permutations to build a picture from the ground up and generates a definition document, which can help automation engineers plan and build bots fit for purpose.

Skan also creates “digital twins” of end-to-end value streams, or models tailored for data-driven process analyses. To ensure the integrity of these models, Skan says keeps business data behind enterprise firewalls and anonymizes worker information, as well as  “pixel-level” data redaction and masking techniques. In addition, the platform can anonymize worker data.

It’s an open question whether the Skan platform’s features are differentiating enough to stand out in a crowded field. FortressIQ, a RPA startup that similarly leverages AI to learn business tasks, recently raised $12 million. FortressIQ and Skan compete with Automation Hero, another well-funded RPA company that recently expanded its focus beyond the sales domain. That’s not to mention Kryon and Blue Prism, or behemoths in the RPA space like UiPath (which is valued at over $1.2 billion) and Automation Anywhere (valued at over $6.8 billion).

That said, Skan claims to have nabbed customers “the world over” with a significant footprint in the banking, financial services, and insurance sectors. While it won’t disclose names, the company says large enterprises collectively investing “billions” of dollars are among the early adopters.

“We realized that without understanding processes, their variants, and the resulting operational intelligence, any intervention such as digitalization, automation, and optimization are futile,” Misra said. “There’s often a gap between how we think work gets done in the enterprise versus how it works in practice.”

Cathay Innovation led San Francisco-based Skan’s $14 million series A with participation from Citi Ventures and existing investors Zetta Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, Plug and Play Ventures, and Firebolt Ventures. It’s the startup’s first publicly disclosed fundraising round since its founding in September 2018.

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