Wrk gets $43 million to help companies automate common workflows

A lasting feature of the pandemic will be the increased deployment of automation in the enterprise. A 2020 survey found that 66% of organizations were testing solutions to automate at least one business process, up from 57% in 2018. Additionally, McKinsey estimates that in around 60% of occupations, at least a third of daily activities could be automated, leveraging made from a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and other technologies.

One of the most popular automation technologies is robotic process automation (RPA), a software solution that allows customers to create, deploy, and manage robots that mimic certain human actions. RPA can eliminate some of the manual tasks in workflows and office processes, not to mention specific tasks such as payroll, tax compliance, governance, and reporting.

Highlighting adoption, Gartner waits spending on RPA software – a market value $1.6 billion in 2020 – for nearly 20% growth in 2021. Unsurprisingly, a growing number of business process automation services and applications are vying for dominance. RPA provider Blue Prism has raised over $120 million, Kryon $40 million, and FortressIQ $30 million. Last July, UiPath raised $750 million, two years after its main rival, Automation Anywhere, raised $290 million.

But the current state of the automation segment hasn’t deterred newcomers like Montreal, Canada-based Wrk from throwing their hats in the ring. Jobwhich offers a range of tools including bots, API and RPA integrations to automate business tasks, today announced that it has raised $43.56 million (C$55 million) in funding rounds from seed, Series A and debt from investors such as Real Ventures, Desjardins Capital, Sharon Rowlands, CEO of Web.com, and other individual angels.

Workflow Automation

Founded by CEO Mohannad-El Barachi and COO David Li in 2019, Wrk combines automation with an expert human workforce and app integrations. The company’s “building block” platform is designed to allow users to create workflows with a mix of technologies, including preconfigured bots.

Barachi – who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science – previously co-launched digital marketing platform SweetIQ before co-founding Wrk. Li previously managed strategy and execution operations at SweetIQ and led digital transformation at Yellow Pages.

“One of the biggest challenges in the wider automation space is that, despite the sophistication of many automation solutions on the market, certain gaps still exist that make it nearly impossible to guarantee end-to-end solutions. for their customers. This, coupled with a plethora of complex implementation processes and high upfront costs, has long kept many people out of automation,” Barachi told VentureBeat via email.” We created Wrk to simplify the process of adopting automation with our fully customizable Wrkflows.”

Wrk partners with clients to fine-tune automations, only charging for workflows once they’re complete. Human workers perform tasks that Wrk’s robots cannot complete themselves, using a browser-based workstation to gain temporary access to necessary systems. Wrk performs QA testing to ensure that workflows don’t break, which can happen whenever the underlying systems change.

“As Wrk is a hybrid delivery engine, it uses human-generated data to generate the datasets needed to power machine learning-based RPAs, bots, and automated processes. Every day, Wrk generates tens of millions of human interactions through its community of human workers which are then used to create automated Wrk actions,” Barachi explained. “Wrk transforms end-to-end processes into ‘Wrkflows’ which consist of individualized units of Wrk, each with a clear input and output. By moving operations from unstructured manual processes to automated workflows, organizations can move from fixed costs to variable costs, while gathering valuable unit data on delivery cost and the steps needed to train and refine an automation. sophisticated.

Contract workers

Not all tech vendors treat contract workers well. Unfortunately, the entrepreneurs who helped develop a major AI dataset, ImageNet, earned a median wage of $2 an hour, with only 4% earning more than the US federal minimum wage. Two years ago, the Rev transcription service faced a huge backlash when it reduced minimum fees for its transcriptionists from $0.45 to $0.30 per word transcribed.

Wrk charges service fees to workers and sets the price of jobs based on the time it takes to complete them, their complexity, the level of skill required and their degree of demand. But the company says its pricing algorithms are “built with a fundamental pricing structure that is informed by [a worker’s] living wage in the region. For example, if workers perform the most basic tasks on the rig for an entire work week, they would earn no less than one week’s minimum wage for their region.

“It is important to us that workers are paid fairly for the work they do with us and earn enough to lead a healthy life in their region,” the company writes. “Payments are made on a monthly basis – with a minimum of $50 – and sent to [a worker’s] Account. Yes [they] do not earn the minimum of 50 USD in any given month, [their] the balance will simply be added to the following month.

An expanding market

The benefits of automation can be significant. According to According to a Salesforce report, 73% of IT managers say employees are saving between 10% and 50% of the time they previously spent on manual tasks through automation. At the same time, in an ADP survey, on half of companies agree that automating business processes minimizes human error in the workflow.

“We’ve found that our mission to simplify the way work gets done has really resonated over the past couple of years, as more and more organizations see the value in adopting a flexible form of automation that empowers them. allows you to accomplish more with limited resources and focus on the tasks, projects and campaigns that matter most in a remote or hybrid work environment,” said Barachi. “Furthermore, as organizations continue to Adapting to a more competitive hiring market, the type of work an employer can offer current and future employees is critical when trying to attract and retain top talent.”

But roadblocks often stand in the way. K2, a process automation software provider recently acquired by Nintex, reports that enterprises consider technical complexity and cost to be among the top adoption challenges to realizing the benefits of automation. The frames too see investing in retraining and upskilling workers as an obstacle – and increasingly, an urgent priority.

Despite this, Wrk, which has 60 employees, says it has expanded its client list to a “diverse” set of brands in North America and Europe, including Cision, Gannett, Silicon Valley Bank and the nonprofit Penny Appeal. The company plans to spend proceeds from recent funding rounds to grow its platform and hire engineering talent.

“Given the unique hybrid and innovative nature of Wrk, we fill a gap in the automation market for which there is currently no other solution,” said Barachi. The combination of the most efficient automation technology with the immeasurable added value of human cognition means that we are truly operating in a unique space right now. Our platform exists to redefine the way work gets done and we look forward to leveraging this round of funding to continue this exciting journey.

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital public square for technical decision makers to learn about transformative enterprise technology and conduct transactions. Learn more

Comments are closed.