Businesses across the world have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdown in full swing and consumer confidence dwindling, it has become challenging for organizations to bounce back with full vigor.
Small businesses have been worst affected by this crisis. Most of them did not invest in the latest technologies that could have helped them during this critical time. The latest technologies, such as AI, cloud, automation, etc. are now proving boon for the organizations that invested in it.
These small businesses could state the valid reason for not having enough cash reserves to invest, but now everyone could see how organizations that understood the importance of these technologies, invested in it and are reaping good results.
Small businesses and pandemic
The pandemic brought the tectonic shift in the business process around the world. Gradually, it has now become the order of the day. As professionals work from home, employers have readjusted and aligned themselves to a new environment. While the large enterprises and knowledge-based companies have been quick to adjust to this new work structure, small businesses have been facing huge challenges.
The biggest challenge, how to execute the tasks without the human workforce?
One can understand small businesses relying heavily on human workforce, but they should also have a back-up plan for this scenario as well. Now they have been exposed to a complete new work structure, that they never thought of or planned for. It has become difficult to cope and readjust itself to fit into the new work environment.
The lesson here is, you should always look to the future and open to adopting new technologies. If they had implemented automation strategy in their organization, things would have been far easy for them. They would have been better off managing the workforce, accessing the required information, and measuring the productivity of each employee.
Gradually, many of them are rebounding back to the market, with the adoption of automation technologies.
So, how is automation helping businesses?
Automation is making the process streamlined and effective. The automation tools have the capability to distribute information across all the departments with ease. It also ensures that information can be accessed whenever an employee needs it. IT automation is helping to reduce the time spent on redundant tasks. The mechanical tasks that do not require thinking ability, and can be executed without the intervention of any human agent, are being automated. It significantly reduces the dependence on the human workforce.
As the employees work from different locations, it becomes difficult to communicate with the other, sometimes leading to miscommunication. The scenario can have an adverse impact on the workflow and productivity. Automation help resolves this challenge. It increases accountability for every employee’s actions across various systems. The technology helps to create the right single source of truth for the entire team to refer to for any projects, thus facilitating the completion of work at right time.
As per a report, nearly 60% of the retailers have adopted smart automation.
The technology sector has an adoption rate of 80.9%.
As many as, 84.7% of the organizations in the financial sector have adopted automation.
And astonishingly almost 100% of the North American manufacturing companies having employees 5000-50,000 have adopted smart automation.
AI techniques that businesses are using:
- AI for hiring the human resource: There are many high volume tasks in the recruitment process, these are often repetitive. AI takes off this load and provides the right assessment tools for auto-screening the candidates; with the help of ML(machine learning) it conducts the sentiment analysis to understand the exact skills of the candidates, which he has not mentioned in resume. You can say the technology can read between the lines. This technology is useful for HR consulting companies.
- Business analytics: Reducing the operational costs is the aim of every organization. Business analytics helps organizations to automate the tasks, thus reducing the operational costs. The techniques used help to gain insights making the data-driven decisions much easier. The combination of AI and Business analytics helps one to make decision such as where to invest in the future.
- Helping in the operational process: Many supply chain companies have faced a setback during this COVID-19 pandemic. This is because of too much dependence on human resources, who are not allowed to venture out during this crisis. With the implementation of automation, it reduces the manual effort, and the logistics costs, a relief during these times.
- Human agent Vs. automation agent: For long, the debate has been going on whether the chatbots would replace human agents at the customer service department. The truth is it cannot completely takeover, as these bots would always need a human representative for critical decisions.Yes, they can offload some of the mechanical tasks that does not need cognitive decision!!!But, during this pandemic, when much of the workforce is not allowed into office, chatbots and conversational AI has proven boon for organizations. It is observed, many companies are backing the virtual assistants to provide effective customer service. For example, Avaamo, a deep learning software company based out of California, USA, offers a full-stack conversational AI platform, thus helping organizations come up with virtual agents for the suppliers and customers. The platform has proven useful for companies across different industries such as banking, supply chain, healthcare, retail, and others.
Prioritizing the strategy on investment
So, what we understood from some of the observations most of the small businesses are short of cash reserves; this is why they look for short term gains rather the long-term ones. In this race, they miss out foreseeing the risks which they may encounter in the future of not implementing the latest technologies.
As an organization, they need to prioritize and think about long-term investments and benefits.
With the onset of this crisis, consumer behavior has also changed. These consumers need effective service than ever before; one needs to pay attention to this requirement as well, as automation can help organizations serve faster and better service.
Remember, if you ignore the problem, it does not mean there is no problem!!!!
As a small business, one needs to see things in a new light, as said, every challenge is an opportunity, and should be used the right way.
Benefits of automation system in small businesses
There are various benefits of implementing automation:
- Minimizes the human errors
- Optimizes the allocation of workforce
- Reduces the cost of labor
- Utilize the remote workforce the right way
- Increases the collaboration among the employees
- Improves productivity
With so many advantages, it’s necessary for every small business to have an automation strategy in 2020.
Automation is here to help businesses. Every small business should chalk out the right plan to invest in this technology and implement it early in the process. It’s better late than never. As a small business, if you have missed the bus of reaping the right profits during this time, you can still catch up with your peers and large enterprises by implementing the right automation strategy in your process.
Like a phoenix rise from ashes, and get back on the track with your head held high!!!!