Automation and big data are the next big tech disruptions coming our way that will dominate our processes and strategies, looking to refine and optimize them and make them as efficient as possible. Big data and automation allow businesses to utilize the vast amount of data available to them in an immensely powerful way. They also help in bringing down the costs by allowing firms to formulate better strategies which help the organization become more efficient.
Small businesses cannot often compete with the larger companies because the latter has a lot more resources to run the business operations while still keeping the costs down. Automation and big data aim to neutralize this very factor and even out the playing field for companies of all size.
In the upcoming decade, small businesses have a lot to gain from automation and big data, especially in helping them handle the effects of a post-Brexit economy, which will demand more of them in terms of being compatible and much more efficient to compete in a more closed market. Here I’d like to share five great ways in which automation and big data will benefit SMEs:
Saving Employee’s Efforts
In a small organization, the effort of each employee is immensely valuable and if there is a window to release some of the mundane burdens on an employee, the SME could stand to benefit a lot from it. This will happen by redirecting the employee’s effort pool to do other more critical work, making it more productive.
Companies can now automate mundane and time-consuming tasks like customer relationship management, making it a whole lot easier for them to stay as resourceful as possible in terms of employee productivity.
These tasks are quite repetitive in nature and automation also provides a more accurate and faster picture on all of these domains, where a report can be generated within seconds and you can track its progress and current situation.
This is where big data and business intelligence comes in. The data accumulated by automated software systems is now more useful than ever as big data allows small businesses to make predictions and forecasts based allowing companies to streamline their processes and become leaner.
For example, a small business manufactures fruit juices and, in many of their products, the demand varies from season to season. Automating inventory control and invoicing, the company could get access to a more accurate picture of the seasonal demands allowing them to order only those fruits that they require at the moment in precise quantities. This allows them to save more money by lowering inventory holding costs. This is just one aspect where automation and big data can provide a huge advantage to SMEs. It can be applied to more and more fields and make these organizations grow.
Managing Disparate and Remote Teams
Small businesses often need to work with freelancers and hire talent from other countries just like big companies do but they don’t have the financial resources to manage their physical presence in every country they could have an employee in.
This has been one of the biggest impediments facing SMEs in recruiting talent from across the globe, but automation has provided them with the opportunity to manage remote teams with much ease and with more tools than ever before.
Popular team management tools like Basecamp, Trello, Teamwork and a whole lot of others have made it immensely easy to manage projects with remote employees as you can check for updates and assess the progress quite easily wherever you are.
Data can be shared readily and so can work be gauged thanks to automation and with big data coming in, more and more fields like construction could be open for employees working far away from the physical presence of the office by using platforms like building information models. These handy construction tools allow access to constructional and architectural data to be collaborated upon by remote teams. Improvements in work structure and inclusiveness of talent from all the world could stand to improve SMEs and their performance in a big manner by giving them access to a larger talent pool than they otherwise have had previously.
Reducing Financial Constraints
One of the biggest problems that make small businesses unable to grow in a substantial way is being cash-crunched. To benefit from a certain function, there needs to be a sizeable investment into it from time to time, which makes it harder for small businesses to benefit from it.
For example, data centers are quite expensive to build and maintain but the benefits they accrue are huge. It's quite hard for a small business to spend so much of financial resources into a single thing, even if it will provide them with a considerable benefit.
However, automation has provided them with the opportunity to use the technology and resources which were previously only accessible to larger companies with bigger budgets.
For example, instead of an in-house data center, SMEs can now gain access to remote data center and servers through cloud platforms which allow them options like scalability, making automation more suited to them than ever. Other forms of such resources are fast becoming easier to acquire for small businesses, leveling the field and providing for stronger and faster growth opportunities.
SMEs are often at loggerheads with limited resources and the strive for growth as it always has to remain within its restrictive limits but automation and big data provide every company with a chance, irrespective of size, to gain access to a lot more opportunities and tasks which were previously quite hard to gain benefit from.
The future definitely holds unprecedented promise for SMEs, if they harness the benefits of these two tech disruptions to their full measure and optimize them in their work in the long run.