26 February, 2020

Partnering to success

30 October, 2019

When it comes to technology it is normally the larger multinational companies that dip their toe in the water and, in some instances, take a full body plunge at an early stage. This is understandable insomuch as it is normally the larger companies that have the more generous budgets that can be set aside for such adventures in modernity. The smaller to medium-sized companies, on the other hand, might consider that they don’t have the money available to make such investments – or maybe feel they only have the wherewithal to push the technology envelope so far. Another reason for some SME’s lack of focus in the direction of the latest tech may be simply because they are so busy keeping their head above water with the orders coming in and the books to balance that they don’t feel they have the time and resources to give too much thought to the automation revolution that’s happening all around them.

Nevertheless, according to managed services provider, EACS, adopting new automation technologies should now be in the everyday thinking for businesses of all sizes, particularly among SMEs. EACS comments that although automation technologies are becoming increasingly accessible, SMEs in the UK are still lagging significantly behind larger corporations. This is according to a recent report published by MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee. The findings revealed SMEs are likely to lack digital skills and most unlikely to adopt automation technology (with an adoption rate of only 4%, compared with 28% of large businesses). Moreover, the committee found a lack of awareness and understanding of automation is harming SME productivity.

Stuart Dickinson, COO of EACS, believes the report offers a timely reminder that uptake in automation technologies and AI-related systems is slow in the UK, particularly among the small and medium-sized businesses in our economy. Among many other issues, Dickinson maintains that this is primarily down to security concerns and fears that a rise in automation in the workplace leads to human job losses. “However, we firmly believe that there isn’t a single organisation in the country, big or small, that would not benefit from automation technologies and AI-related systems, as they give businesses of any size a cost-effective way to compete differently,” he added. “They allow businesses to remove the burden that legacy technologies, cumbersome manual processes and repetitive tasks are having on their day-to-day operations. By automating repetitive and necessary tasks with improved accuracy and efficiency, businesses will then be able to focus and invest more time in retraining and reskilling workers in different, more productive areas. Furthermore, they offer businesses the potential for a low-cost, accessible way to understand their data faster, enabling them to make better and more informed decisions.”

Determining how to automate any businesses process can be a less than straightforward endeavour. EACS makes the point that this can be even more the case when a company continues to rely on legacy systems together with the data management challenges of the GDPR era. In the case of SMEs, Dickinson believes it is imperative that they work with the right partners and cloud providers who are knowledgeable on the most cost-effective automation technologies, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA). “By developing relationships with the correct partners and even outsourcing automation responsibilities, SMEs can reap the significant productivity benefits that automation offers, without having to spend valuable time and resources on working out how to streamline these processes themselves,” he said.

Ruminating on fine technological detail can understandably seem daunting enough for some firms to want to turn and run in the opposite direction. However, by forming the right partnerships with organisations whose core competency is automation, AI and all things digital, then opportunities can quickly come to the fore in terms of greater overall efficiencies, time and cost savings and, as a consequence enhanced brand reputation and greater competitiveness. With all that’s on offer, automation technology has to be taken seriously in today’s super-competitive industrial climate.

Ed Holden


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