Here’s why automation is gaining ground in SMEs



PHOTO: Adobe


Everyone is talking about automation these days, with many saying that it has now become a vital asset for businesses. However, there is also evidence that automation tools, once seen only as a solution for large enterprises, have also become the key to the survival of SMEs.

In fact, new search from Norwalk, based in CT Photocopy indicates that up to 80% of organizations believe that automation is essential to their survival. The Xerox State and Fate of Small and Medium Business survey conducted by Morning Consult interviewed 1,200 decision makers from companies with 25 to 1,000 employees in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

  • 82 percent say that the digitization of paperwork is important to their survival.
  • 75 percent are more dependent on workflow technologies, compared to their pre-pandemic configurations.
  • 88 percent See security software and hardware that protect business information as central to their longevity, with 75% likely to upgrade their current solutions this year.
  • 65 percent said remote IT support was a sore spot – and 74% are likely to invest in better solutions this year.

Despite the pandemic, he also revealed that most executives were optimistic about the outlook. It showed that 64% plan to emerge stronger from the pandemic, while 81% agree that the health crisis has made them more reliant on technology. Specifically, compared to last year, 75% increased their technology budgets by 34% on average. For SMEs, automation is a key part of their COVID exit strategy.

When it comes to IT automation, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, especially for small businesses, said Rob Makin, Lenovo executive director for the global DaaS (Device-as -a-Service), us. The key, he said, is to improve efficiency wherever you can so that you can allocate resources to automating your own business processes.

There are several standard functions such as technical support, IT delivery, deployments, configurations and maintenance that consume the time of an IT department. Citing recent studies, he points out that 77% of IT staff time is spent solely on maintenance and support. Using solutions such as Device as a Service (DaaS) is a way for businesses to maximize their resources for better IT optimization.

A DaaS model can integrate more than new devices and allows businesses to more affordably secure up-to-date technology, as well as technical support and managed services that can help businesses improve productivity, increase security and to better manage their end users, allowing their IT staff to focus on other parts of the business.

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The need for end-to-end solutions

Using automation can also have major benefits for SMBs facing glaring gaps in IT services that affect their ability to operate at peak efficiency and to their full potential, Chuck Canton, Founder and CEO of New York City Sourcepass, a company that connects SMEs and technology, said. A common model has seen technology companies focus only on a small segment of a larger set of issues facing customers. For SMBs, this lack of complete end-to-end solutions and the customization they need to focus on laser to meet their needs leads to a clumsy and fragmented approach that relies on dozens of vendors to properly power the technology. of their business. This is not only expensive, but takes time and results in a very bad customer experience in the end.

“Enter AI, RPA. and similar automation technologies. Not only do they solve the challenge of personalization at the operational level of SMEs, but also of improving the customer experience. AI initiatives are the future and are an essential lifeline to ensure the continued viability of SMEs across all industries over the coming decade, ”he said.

From the outset, SMEs should accept and expect that digital transformation of any kind, AI included, will never truly end. Instead, it operates along a continuum that begins with large-scale cultural change across the organization. Taking a proactive and iterative approach to your automation initiatives is essential for a smooth digital journey, instead of waiting too long and creating a much steeper climb.

AI is just one of the automation tools that make digital transformation more robust, and for SMEs. AI, RPA and automation initiatives have been and will continue to be the key to survival and success in the years to come. The successful implementation of these automation initiatives requires change, possible discomfort, and an investment of time and resources, but they generate massive impacts for the day-to-day operations of SMBs.

AI offers an improved ability to serve customers in a more direct and responsive way, for example, participating in service calls knowing which platforms they are using, and recalling personal details to create a stronger rapport to create. Custom tools that will help it run more efficiently are just some of the benefits AI and automation solutions offer to SMBs.

Automate SME marketing

Automation, from a marketing perspective, is within reach for brands of virtually any size. Most of the companies needing to use online tools at a much higher level during the pandemic (such as email automation, call tracking, order fulfillment), many SMEs have their eyes open on power automation to increase profitability, according to Matt Erickson, chief marketing officer of National posts.

Even local SMEs understand how valuable expanding beyond their local markets can be, as well as the need to extend the lifetime value of their customer base, two aspects where marketing automation can play a role. central.

“Automation is not about replacing members of the SMB team. Instead, it’s used to automate repetitive tasks that hamper progress due to time constraints, ”he said; “SMBs should look at where most of the time has been spent, understand what could be automated, and then explore profitable options that could give them that time back. ”

Most SMBs don’t need all the options in the sun, so they should focus only on the handle that will help them adapt today and scale tomorrow. They include:

Marketing and e-commerce automation: Small businesses need to implement marketing and e-commerce automation as it allows them to collect and analyze customer data, which is essential for customer acquisition and retention. CRM systems, chatbots, and email marketing software are all examples of automation that SMBs can leverage to help them grow while competing with larger companies.

Automation of business processes: SMBs can also benefit from the automation of business processes, especially important and time-consuming HR functions such as time off requests, onboarding and authorization of travel and expenses. This helps streamline workflows and reduce the costs of what would otherwise be tedious manual processes.

Customer service: A $ 500 / month investment in customer support AI can provide a small business with 24-hour customer service and, when integrated with a CRM, can allow a stand-alone program to access customer information and to provide world-class support 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. With customer support automation, even a small business can have Fortune 500 level customer service capabilities.

Disruption of SMEs

Think about what the COVID-19 pandemic would have been for many SMEs without automation? RPA quickly processed millions of travel reimbursements, streamlined forbearance requests on loans and mortgages, and helped people receive their COVID test results and schedule immunization appointments faster, Atlanta CEO Harel Tayeb said. Kryon Systems.

The pandemic has shown us that there is always the potential for disruption and because of this the need for automation in businesses will only increase. RPA empowers employees by allowing them to focus on the areas where they have the most impact and by outsourcing skills that take them away from their specialty. It does more than make a service more productive; it creates fulfilling roles for employees, which results in happier employees who want to stay with the company.

“The maturing RPA market is democratizing automation and attracting the attention of small businesses who recognize the potential to capture competitive advantage and increase productivity and profits. But RPA vendors need to be nimble to adapt their technologies for ease of use by SMEs, ”he said.

Solutions should be simple enough to implement for any business user, from process discovery to building and implementing bots. SMEs do not have the time, the need or the capacity to invest and transform entire processes. They can deploy and scale incrementally and achieve huge benefits the way they do.


About Madeline Powers

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