SMEs must open up to the automation revolution or be left behind, say EACS

It has been a common trend that uptake in new technologies is slower amongst SMEs than that of major multinational companies, who have significantly more scale and resources. 

However, according to managed services provider (MSP), EACS, adopting new automation technologies should now be in the everyday thinking for businesses of all sizes, particularly amongst SMEs. 

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 last week. The findings revealed SMEs are likely to lack digital skills and most unlikely to adopt automation technology (with an adoption rate of only four per cent, compared to 28 per cent of large businesses). In addition, the committee found a lack of awareness and understanding of automation is harming SME productivity.

Stuart Dickinson, COO of EACS, commented: “The report offers a timely reminder that uptake in automation technologies and AI-related systems is slow in the UK, particularly amongst the small and medium-sized businesses in our economy. Amongst many other issues, 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. 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.” 

Working out how to automate any businesses processes can be a hugely difficult task in itself, particularly where there is a continued reliance on legacy systems and the data management challenges of the GDPR era. 

Dickinson continued, “In the case of SMEs, 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.

“At EACS, we have integrated automation technologies in both our operations and our customers in many day-to-day tasks as diverse as debt management, sales commission calculations and business operations. In being able to plan more effectively what gets done and when, our SME customers are gaining significant advantage in time and resource utilisation, leading to greater predictability of outcomes as a result.

Dickinson concludes, “There is obviously still some automation anxiety, but the BEIS committee is absolutely correct in recommending that raising awareness and understanding of automation and AI technologies amongst these businesses is crucial in helping them become more efficient, allowing them to stay competitive.”

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