TAMPA — Sykes Enterprises is spending $69 million to buy Symphony Ventures, a London company that uses software robots to automate a lot of routine business tasks.
Sykes sees the acquisition as a chance to take a leading role in an emerging area of technological expertise known as robotic process automation, or RPA.
In announcing the deal, Sykes president and CEO Chuck Sykes said adding Symphony's specialties will help his company work with clients to modernize, optimize and integrate their digital operations and improve customer service.
"The digital revolution continues to transform our clients' businesses, their customer service needs, and by extension, the customer support industry," he said. "The acquisition of Symphony is another significant step in building our company's capabilities to succeed."
Sykes, based in Tampa, mainly used to focus on providing call-center customer service after its clients made a sale. Over the last three years, however, it has acquired two other companies — Qelp and Clearlink — plus 30 percent of a third, Xsell, that together have allowed it to add services ranging from assistance navigating software challenges to marketing and analytics to real-time support for sales agents.
Acquiring Symphony, the company said, is another step in that evolution.
Founded in 2014, Symphony has about 200 employees and has grown four-fold in the last two years. Its robots can perform a wide range of tasks as a human would: They can log into a web site or program, enter data, do complex calculations and log out. They're best suited for tasks that are repetitive, structured and driven by rules: searching records, filling out forms, creating, updating and deleting records, producing reports and archiving transaction logs.
Symphony's clients include companies in financial services, health care, business services, manufacturing, consumer products, media and entertainment. The $8.1 billion intelligent automation market is estimated to be growing about 30 percent a year. The purchase price is estimated to be twice Symphony's projected revenues for 2019.
In announcing the acquisition, which is scheduled to close Nov. 1, Sykes said it will:
• Position Sykes to support clients' use of robotic process automation and intelligent automation across all facets of their operations.
• Enhance Sykes' portfolio of services.
• Help Sykes drive innovation and enhance productivity in a tight labor market.
"The world of intelligent automation systems is approaching a tipping point," Sykes said. "We're excited to be able to participate in this new technological advancement in a meaningful way."
Sykes' stock was trading at $30.29 a share late Thursday morning, which is up less than 1 percent since the acquisition was announced on Monday.
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Contact Richard Danielson at email@example.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times