The Robotic Process Automation (RPA) market was identified to be the fastest-growing subsegment of software in 2019, according to Gartner, with 63% year-over-year growth. Forrester predicts the $1 billion spend on RPA tools in 2019 will be $1.5 billion or more in 2020.
With a track record of impressive growth as an industry and a marketplace that has plenty of space for new ideas, an opportunity exists for developers to capitalize on the trend.
But why is it that some developers break through to create their own software offerings while others don’t? What hurdles exist for developers trying to get started, and how can you get beyond them?
Protecting your intellectual property
The obvious first hurdle in developing software to sell is that you must actually create it. A lot comes with that: addressing potential customer environments, ensuring compatibility with existing systems, handling large volumes of work/data, and understanding cybersecurity viewpoints should you have expectations of your application making external calls, to name a few.
Going beyond that, there are the challenges of packaging and delivery. How do you make sure your app can be installed with all its appropriate dependencies, in the right way, so that the end customer has the experience you expect?
And, once this “thing” you’ve created is loose in the wild, how do you make sure others don’t just rip you off by taking your code and using it for themselves instead of paying you for it? Or, just as bad, how do you make sure they don’t keep using it indefinitely without continuing to pay you for renewals or maintenance?
Enter Automation Anywhere Bot Store. These types of issues are addressed with the built-in code protection features that allow for logic in paid bots and MetaBots to be obfuscated — thereby protecting your intellectual property. As a developer, you select which files to protect and which to leave as editable files that can be used for customization in the use of your bot.
Included in that code protection is a packaging process that builds an installer for your bots and licensing that prevents your bots from being used without a valid purchase, as well as packaging for your MetaBots, input files, configuration files, and documentation.
The bot template used for Bot Store development and the accompanying checklist outline the best practices in setting up your folder structure so that customers can have a seamless experience in installing and using your bot.
Identifying and engaging with your target market
Building a name for yourself as a trusted player in your market, as well getting in touch with the right people within that market, can make for an uphill battle in establishing and getting traction with a customer base. That reputation building comes at the expense of a slick website, active social media presence, well-written marketing copy, and blog/media content that demonstrate the company’s value add.
Along with the customer identification and reputation-building process comes the challenge of sales and distribution. Your software may very well be great enough to speak for itself but, unless it’s in front of the appropriate decision-makers or organization representatives who can understand its value, it really won’t do you any good.
The logical response to that for many startups is to hire a sales staff to help get your software into the right hands and in front of the right eyes, but a sales staff isn’t free — especially a sales staff with an international presence and the experience required to represent your software with the same passion you had when you created it.
As a developer on Bot Store, you don’t have to establish a marketplace or worry about the distribution as those steps are already taken care of. Bot Store has had more than 125,000 downloads from Automation Anywhere’s base of more than 3,100 enterprise customers spanning 90 countries. The website, navigation, and branding are all taken care of for you.
As a publisher on Bot Store, your brand and contributions are presented in a way that lets customers easily find your bots, and your business. Best of all, Bot Store bots have the support of a global sales team that’s already engaged with your potential customer base and already knows the right decision-makers in those organizations. Finding your market couldn’t be easier.
Ensuring you get paid
Beyond being able to share your dream app with the world, the next best (or the best) part of software development is getting paid. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the trickiest because of sales tax rates for different states, handling payments from international buyers, being able to facilitate purchases that are small enough to not require a purchase order, one-time purchase versus subscription, and making sure recurring billing and renewals are done properly and on time.
In July 2008, Apple launched its App Store. Since then, it’s grown into an economy of its own. Apple has paid out more than USD 100 billion to app developers worldwide. Although that’s been awesome for app developers who had wildly successful apps or really innovative ideas, it led to a couple of issues:
- The purchasing model for apps on most mobile marketplaces (iOS/Android) started as one-time-purchase only. That meant when I bought “Who Has the Biggest Brain?” in December 2009, Playfish (the developer) only got 99 cents out of me. Yet, I could continue to use that app as new versions of iOS were released, and the developer was expected to continue to maintain his or her app on these new platforms, despite not receiving any additional money (from me) to do so.
- Developers who got in early did really well as the market wasn’t yet saturated with the same app ideas being recycled over and over. (How many versions of Flappy Bird does the world really need?) Today, there are more than 3.2 million iOS apps for different Apple devices, many of which are very similar to apps that already exist. All of that seems to suggest that, unless an app is extremely new or noteworthy, the iOS app gold rush may be over.
Bot Store developers share a unique, two-fold advantage that frees them from those concerns. For starters, monetization on Automation Anywhere Bot Store went live in October 2019, so there’s still plenty of space for new ideas, new bots, and new creations.
Second, Bot Store purchases are on an annual subscription basis, so developers aren’t in the situation iOS developers were with continuous support/infrastructure/updates for existing customers who only made a one-time purchase.
Additionally, the collection of money, renewals, and licensing is all handled by Automation Anywhere — so you don’t have to worry about the problems that often come with collecting money from different customers in different countries or using different payment methods.
Your RPA opportunity awaits
On Automation Anywhere Bot Store, motivated developers can build bots and MetaBots to do everything from interfacing with enterprise applications to training machine learning models and consuming cognitive services. Packaging, licensing, distribution, renewals, and intellectual property protection all come standard — all you need to do is build the bot (or component that another bot can consume).
Best of all, a world-class, global sales team is incentivized to promote your application. Leverage your expertise to build something other Automation Anywhere customers will find valuable in their digital transformation journey.
Ready to get started? Check out the Guide to Getting Started for Developers for more information about how to create your own bots to sell on Automation Anywhere Bot Store.