As transformative innovations make their way out of university research labs and technology think tanks, large corporations are traditionally the first segment of the business community to enjoy their benefits. Much of this is due to the higher price points of the new technology as the marketplace has yet to refine production and infuse cost efficiencies into the products.
Given the natural effects of supply and demand, however, it's usually just a matter of time until smaller companies can start enjoying the same positive impact to their own operational efficiencies from such innovations. In recent years, technologies like AI-based machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) have become the embodiment of these dynamics.
Initially only available to the largest of companies, these advancements in automation technology are now integrated into platform solutions that allow smaller companies to enjoy the benefits of automation in everything from production and distribution to sales and adminstational workflows.
Key Benefits to Adopting Automation Technology
First and foremost, automation technologies provide long-term cost savings by reducing the labor costs and resources that would otherwise be spent on manually performing important but tedious procedures. In a crowded digital economy where competition is always fierce, small improvements in margins can very well be the deciding factor between a company that thrives and others that never reach their potential.
Aside from cost benefits, automation also improves overall efficiency with its ability to significantly enhance communication within a small to midsize company as well as with a customer base. Cloud-based ERM platforms, for instance, can leverage their capacity to sync employees, departments and regional offices in real time to eliminate any lag in communication. Just a few years ago, the sheer cost of such systems made them only viable options for large companies with deep pockets.
If adopted in a deliberate and well-organized manner, particular automated solutions in a handful of critical areas can allow managers and executives in smaller businesses to hand-off resource-consuming responsibilities to technology and get back to what they do best - improving their organizations and growing the company.
It's Not Science-Fiction Anymore
Cutting-edge innovations have traditionally segued directly from R&D to large corporations with few, if any, stops in between. With the rapid advancement in computing power and algorithmic modeling, however, those cutting-edge innovations are now available to automate many operations for small- to medium-sized businesses.
AI for Smaller Companies
While AI still might sound like the basis for a science-fiction novel to some, it is already making fundamental changes in how companies of all sizes conduct business. Along with companion technologies including big data, subsets of AI like machine-learning can now help smaller companies automate much of their process to better target and engage their customer base as well as improving internal workflows.
For instance, rather than investing the capital needed to hire outside agencies, small to midsize companies can now handle many marketing procedures in an in-house basis. Using machine learning platforms to create customized digital assets and content, smaller companies can simply now provide stock photos, video and ad copy to a marketing platform that uses consumer and geographical data to craft entire campaigns designed to engage a specific target audience.
IoT Is a Long-Term Cost Saver
Likewise, IoT can automate functions within smaller companies that previously required higher fixed costs while increasing susceptibility to human error. Based on a significantly greater ability to link hardware with smart software platforms, different IoT applications are useful in everything from office management to the supply chain.
As an example, companies can now purchase IoT-based automation platforms that can integrate utility usage monitoring and office security, all from the control of a mobile device. By adopting such innovations, small to midsize companies can save on the costs of hiring an outside security firm since motion-detection cameras, office lights and even entry points can be monitored and managed from any location with internet access and a phone or tablet.
The Bottom Line
Smaller companies don't have the luxury of seemingly endless supplies of resources or employees like their conglomerate counterparts. Technologies like AI and IoT help those businesses keep pace with the competition as well as a fickle, dynamic marketplace with ever-evolving tastes and preferences.
In short, smaller companies can now adopt automated solutions to infuse their operations with the agility needed to navigate a crowded and competitive digital economy by saving money, resources and time.