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SAP adds Contextor, robotic process automation

"Relieves business software users from performing competitive tasks."

SAP Contextor

SAP said Monday it had acquired Contextor SAS, Orsay, France, to help build its planned SAP Leonardo Machine Learning portfolio. The business-software giant, based in Germany, with U.S. headquarters in Newtown Square, won't say what it agreed to pay.

Contextor, founded in 2000, builds software for desktop automation and robotic process automation (RPA) compatible with Microsoft and open-source Xen Project remote workstations. Contextor's products are used to simplify the process of deploying software across a company.

SAP says Contextor "relieves business software users from performing repetitive tasks." Contextor's RPA platform "will be combined with SAP Cloud Platform and conversational AI technology and document processing capabilities provided by SAP Leonardo Machine Learning to deliver intelligent RPA, which SAP plans to include in key SAP solutions," SAP said in a statement.

"With intelligent RPA accelerated by Contextor, businesses will be able to achieve the high automation level necessary to become intelligent enterprises," said Markus Noga, head of machine learning at SAP, in a statement. "The acquisition is a big step towards orchestrating process automation." SAP plans to automate half of all the business processes supported by its SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software over the next three years.

Last week, SAP announced plans to acquire Qualtrics, which produces corporate employee and customer analytics, for $8 billion. That was SAP's biggest acquisition to date as the company rushes to acquire new business applications under CEO William McDermott.

"We believe in going after the market leader," when it's time to add new markets and major software platforms, said Arlen Shenkman, head of SAP's 150-member multinational investment banking group, which overseas about a dozen large acquisitions like the Qualtrics deal annually.

By comparison, the Conextor deal, at a smaller scale, "is one of our tuck-ins, a technology deal." (Arlen Shenkman's name corrected 11/27/18)