Argos Labs, a robotic process automation vendor based in San Jose, Calif., offers a different take on RPA software that the company believes will appeal to value-added resellers and systems integrators.
Founded in 2016, Argos Labs provides a low-code approach to RPA and its goal is to become a completely no-code tool. The company’s Argos RPA+ platform includes an SDK for building automation plug-in modules with Python, a bot management dashboard and, most recently, an RPA marketplace that launched Sept. 1.
Shige Sato, CEO and one of the three founders of Argos Labs, said his company’s RPA software platform is “a little bit different from the big guys.”
The big three vendors in the RPA market are Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath.
Transferring bot maintenance
Argos Labs’ effort to minimize coding lets customers manage and maintain bots in house, according to Sato. The company’s current Python plugin approach is low-code, he said, noting the logic part of Python is hidden in the plug-in module. Python arguments, meanwhile, are transformed into a UI, which asks the bot-builder to set parameters using tools such as pull-down menus.
Low-code is an important consideration at a time when some industry executives point to escalating RPA costs. Sato said the cost of post-development bot upkeep is an issue for customers of other RPA software tools and an obstacle for ROI.
“We hear a lot of RPA projects are suffering from this ROI viewpoint and that is because they keep paying for professional services, consultation and maintenance,” Sato said.
Argos Lab’s RPA approach benefits partners as well as end customers. This may seem counterintuitive given that VARs and integrators provide professional services. But while the never-ending RPA project seems like a service provider’s dream, Sato suggests partners would rather step away from day-to-day bot maintenance.
Instead, service providers would like to handle an initial bot implementation and then turn over additional bot building and ongoing maintenance to the customer’s end users. “They want to focus on digital transformation — inclusive of AI and machine learning,” Sato explained. “They don’t want to be stuck with RPA maintenance.”
Argos Labs’ message apparently connected with HCL, a large integrator based in India. Sato said HCL recently signed up for Argos’ RPA platform.
Service providers can also take advantage of Argos Labs’ recently opened marketplace and create their own private repositories. The marketplace offers plug-ins that customers can download to build bots, which can run on Windows, Android, Linux and iOS devices.
Sato used the analogies of a garage sale and a farmers’ market to describe how Argos Labs’ marketplace differs from other RPA vendors. RPA marketplaces typically function as garage sales, providing finished goods in the form of readymade bots that customer can deploy, he noted. The Argos Labs farmers’ market approach offers unfinished goods — modules customers use to create bots.
VARs and integrators can employ the company’s tools to build plug-ins to sell in the marketplace. They can also create private repositories through Argos Labs’ RPA software platform. When service providers pursue a private repository, Argos Labs contributes a set of bot-building blocks exclusive to partners, Sato said. Those building blocks are in addition to the 40 or so blocks generally available. Partners can sell the plug-ins they create in their private repositories.
Those repositories offer partners better control over pricing, Sato noted. “We don’t care how much they charge for their plug-ins,” he said.
Thus far, Argos Labs’ public marketplace offers less than 50 plug-ins from fewer than 20 builders. The latter group includes both partners and builders within Argos Labs. But the company plans to attract Python programmers to boost the bot population.
“We are now trying to promote the SDK to the Python community,” he said.