Small Businesses are Finding Places to Fit In Automation
If you ask a person that has been using the same technology for years what they would like to see in new technology, you’ll often get the answer, “for it to do the work for me.” This is a popular response that is almost always delivered as a joke. With technology going the way it is, it’s not as funny as it once was. Today, automated tools are being developed that work to actually do a lot of that work for you. This can be both a detriment and a benefit for your staff. Today, we’ll take a look at both.
Where Automation Fits
Businesses have been committed to automation to both keep costs down and to keep their staff from having to deal with elements of the business that may not suit them. Many businesses not only try to add technology-driven automation to their production processes, they routinely use them in their administrative processes. The most frequent parts of a business that gets automated today are:
Sales and Lead Acquisition
Two of the most crucial parts to running a successful business are selling your products and services and finding new customers, and since sales is a competitive and costly side of your business, using automation only makes sense. Today, businesses automate all types of sales and lead acquisition activities, including:
- Lead scoring - Using the metrics available, automated algorithms can score businesses on their likelihood to need and want the products or services you offer.
- Client onboarding - After your business signs up a customer, automating a welcome package can not only make the client at ease with their decision, it can keep from having to assign your staff to handle it—which can be a massive cost savings.
- Follow-ups - Automating follow-ups can help keep prospects engaged without spending time and resources on doing so.
Businesses may not be able to completely automate their marketing, but automating some of their marketing processes can keep costs down and allow a business to do more. Here are some places automation works for marketing:
- Email marketing - Targeting potential customers or keeping current customers engaged can often be difficult. With automation, you can automatically roll out different marketing materials at different intervals in the client-business relationship.
- Social media - Social media is a great tool for small business marketing, but with so many platforms to manage, it can be costly and time consuming. By automating your ability to push out promotional materials and status updates, you can make a potentially never-ending job work.
Cultivating positive customer relationships is much harder than it seems. Many different parts of your business need to work together to make it happen. Many businesses utilize Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that brings a lot of solid automation with it. These include:
- Workflow management - Maintaining a consistent workflow keeps your business efficient and productive, leaning on automated tools such as setting appointments and delivering necessary reports to decision makers can go a long way toward building functioning and prosperous customer relationships.
- Chatbot support - Automating customer support using AI-fueled chatbots can drastically improve your business’ ability to support your products and services, while also saving substantial capital.
Finally, automating aspects of your administrative tasks can save a lot of headaches for the people that work in human resources and make it possible to streamline your business. Here are two ways automation fuels efficient administrative management:
- Recruitment - A lot has been made recently about the hardships many small businesses are having finding people that fit their business. There is software developed that automates the job of listing openings, allowing businesses to spend less to find the right candidates for their current openings.
- Data backup - Automating the data backup process has changed the way people look at business continuity. Now, systems are more reliably protecting the data that is so key to running a modern business.
The Negative Perception of Automation
With all the good things automation can do for a business, there is one major negative aspect. For the more jobs that computers and software can handle, people are going to be doing those jobs less and less. This has many people thinking that if they aren’t needed to do the job, they are expendable.
This theory is more of a bound than a step.
You see it’s true that with the rise of automation, less human resources are going to be needed to do the job. Machines are more efficient, more productive, and return a lot more than a human worker. This fact makes workers nervous. The truth is, however, that what is happening is more of a shift than a complete assault on the worker. Workers are still needed, they are just needed to have different skills. For centuries physical and manual labor was in high demand, but with increases in automation social and technological skills will be in higher demand.
Make no mistake about it, it’s a big deal as many older workers will find themselves being replaced with machines and with less time available to learn new skills, it could create problems for society. For younger workers, this shift won’t be as dire.
What Will Companies Do?
You know that companies will almost always make the decision to benefit their stakeholders. In the small business sector, this isn’t as evident as it is with enterprises, but it will still be an issue. Businesses have some responsibility when figuring out what to do with their workers. Here are two ways the modern business will deal with the rampant escalation in their automated efforts:
- Employee retraining - The first one is obvious. You have workers that are put out by your new automated tools, retraining them to do something else for the business should be a priority. This builds a positive company culture and while some employees won’t take to it as well as others, it is a positive strategy that will get your workforce the skills they need to help your business move forward.
- Employee redeployment - This is the strategy of taking employees with specific skills and building workflows that take advantage of them. Changing workflows to support your employees is a strategy most businesses should already be doing, but if you plan on dispatching more automation, it will become more important than ever.
Automation is here to stay, and with innovations happening in quick succession, you need to be ready. If you would like to talk to one of our IT professionals about getting new automated tools or how to fit them into your business, give Datalyst a call today at (774) 213-9701.