Robotic process automation (RPA) software revenue grew 63.1% in 2018 to $846 million, and is expected to bring in revenue reaching $1.3 billion in 2019, making it the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market, according to Gartner, Inc., Stamford, Conn.

“The RPA market has grown since our last forecast, driven by digital business demands as organizations look for ‘straight-through’ processing,” says Fabrizio Biscotti, research vice president. “Competition is intense, with nine of the Top 10 vendors changing market share position in 2018.”

The Top 5 RPA vendors controlled 47% of the market in 2018, according to the report, “Market Share Analysis: Robotic Process Automation, Worldwide, 2018.”

“This makes the Top 5 ranking appear largely unsettled,” adds Biscotti.

North America continued to dominate the RPA software market, with a 51% share in 2018, but its share dropped by 2 percentage points year over year. Western Europe held the No. 2 position, with a 23% share. Japan came in third, with adoption growth of 124% in 2018.

“This shows that RPA software is appealing to organizations across the world, due to its quicker deployment cycle times, compared with other options such as business process management platforms and business process outsourcing,” says Biscotti.

Gartner expects the RPA software market to look very different three years from now. For instance, large software companies are partnering with or acquiring RPA software providers, thus increasing the awareness and traction of RPA software in their customer bases. At the same time, new vendors are seizing the opportunity to adapt traditional RPA capabilities for digital business demands, such as event stream processing and real-time analytics.

“This is an exciting time for RPA vendors,” says Biscotti. “However, the current top players will face increasing competition, as new entrants will continue to enter a market whose fast evolution is blurring the lines distinguishing RPA from other automation technologies, such as optical character recognition and artificial intelligence.”