China’s Cyclone Robotics eyes APAC market

One of China’s largest suppliers of robotic process automation software has made a foray into Asia-Pacific, leveraging its bot management and ‘human-in-the-loop’ capabilities

Cyclone Robotics, one of China’s largest suppliers of robotic process automation (RPA) software, has made a foray into the Asia-Pacific region in a bid to expand its global footprint.

Since 2021, the company has established a presence in Singapore, from which it will extend its reach into markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and India.

Although its regional team comprises only seven people, the company has nabbed customers such as Ademco, a Singapore-based security services company, according to Bryan Tan, its regional director for APAC.

“Today, we are considered the number one RPA provider in China in terms the number of customers and the scale of deployment,” said Tan, noting that Cyclone Robotics was also the first Chinese RPA supplier to be included in Gartner’s magic quadrant for RPA software last year.

Tan said the company is now applying the experience it has gained in China to its APAC business, particularly in financial services, logistics and utilities. In China, state-owned utility company State Grid is using Cyclone Robotics to collect and analyse data from electric vehicle charging stations.

Another industry that Tan has his eyes on is telecoms, where telcos tend to have ageing field workers who will be retiring soon. “We can use process discovery mining to start tracking processes and create a knowledge database for younger workers,” he said.

Like most RPA suppliers, Cyclone Robotics is directing its product development towards hyperautomation, a term coined by Gartner that refers to the use of advanced technologies to deploy different automation capabilities, including RPA, either separately or in tandem and augmented by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“These are smart and intelligent features that surround the bots’ capability – for example, with our feature called Watchdog, we are able to detect robotic processes before they fail or if they encounter exceptions,” said Tan, adding that an RPA controller will also help to orchestrate, connect and manage the bots.

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There are also “human-in-the-loop” capabilities, in the form of a digital assistant called Ciri (Cyclone Intelligent Robotics Interface) that enables bots to interact with people, said Tan.

“For example, if you have a scenario where you need a decision to be made, or if the bot is encountering a problem with two-factor authentication, the human can interact with the bot.”

Technology capabilities aside, Tan said there are challenges in penetrating the financial services industry in APAC, where some companies have raised concerns over data security. To alleviate such concerns, he pointed to the fact that Cyclone Robotics can be deployed on-premise and in a private cloud, as well as public cloud.

Another challenge is the disconnect between business users and IT teams that tend to drag their feet on RPA projects, said Tan, stressing the importance of having RPA champions and strong support from key stakeholders for automation projects to succeed.

Tan said the company’s revenue in Asia-Pacific markets during its first year of operation outside China has been “conservative”, as it has focused primarily on proof-of-concept projects.

Cyclone Robotics raised nearly $40m in Series B funding in 2020, followed by $150m in Series C funding late last year. It achieved an average annual growth rate of 400% between 2019 and 2021.

The Asia-Pacific region, and markets in its constituent countries, have been growth engines for RPA in recent years, accounting for about 17% of the global market for RPA services, according to Forrester.

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