Many small businesses are beset with workload pressures and repetitive production processes. Yet, automation is signaling a disruptive and progressive expansion for modern insights and practices. In the short-term, it will most affect industries from manufacturing, retail, transportation, and storage that are commonly populated by small businesses. Automation is the solution without compromising the quality or output of services and products for small enterprises.

Approximately 80% of businesses using automation have seen an increase in business leads which isn’t surprising considering the market is expected to grow past $5 billion by 2024. From virtual conferencing software to machine learning marketing, automation is the key to streamlining the way we think and feel about businesses and their products. 

Here are five ways that small business can benefit from automation:

1. Manage Virtual Teams

Managing teams, especially global ones, can be tedious without automated tools. Many small business work with contracted or freelance workers — many times international ones from developing countries — and they often save money over hiring in-house employees. Freelancers tend to charge less so small businesses prefer to hire them. Yet, managing these global dispersed teams can be challenge. 

Automation can ease the communication process. With numerous tools that facilitate the remote delivery of work, businesses can utilize cloud platforms that allow teams to collaborate virtually while they reach various development and troubleshooting solutions. Team management platforms like Basecamp and Sprintly can integrate with business servers as they allow smooth strategies, communication, secure access to client information and facilitating assignments. 

2. Streamline Processes

Not only are simple, repetitive jobs tiresome, but they can also consume time and detract from productive talents that could be used in other business projects. Redundant tasks are one of the top reasons businesses implement automotive tools. Businesses can now streamline invoice delivery to customers, accounting and payroll management, and the managing and tracking of inventory. By giving employees breaks from small, repetitive tasks and allowing them to use their knowledge in more specialized roles, both the employee and business are able to grow in terms of both knowledge and skill. 

3. Automate Advertising

Smaller businesses that rely on organic campaigns promotions to showcase their services are often wary to advertise due to limited budgets. Programmatic advertising combines advertising and automation while lowering costs and increasing ROI for users. It works by allowing computerized programs to sell online ad space to advertisers and their agencies. Research from BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor reports that over two thirds of small businesses plan to increase their annual ad budgets in 2018 on programmatic advertising. 

Its popularity lies in its ability to outsource advertising work to professional agencies while lowering marketing costs. In addition, automation makes it possible to understand targeted audience demographics, browser search history, rotation, and more, all in a matter of seconds. 

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn already allow small businesses to use programmatic ads on their platforms, allowing small businesses a better ability to connect efficiently with their customers. The data garnered through these networks can also provide small businesses with better insights into how to develop and improve their products.

4. Track Employee Loyalty and Satisfaction 

Every person is crucial to the operation of a small business. When workforce retention is low, it costs small businesses time, money, and productivity to replace them. According to a Deloitte University report, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be used to increase satisfaction and loyalty among employees. 

Another report indicates that it can boost employee morale. By automatically keeping track of hours worked and compensation earned, RPA reduces human error, increases transparency and helps to identify and acknowledge employee productivity. 

5. Personalize Customer Service

Offering more personalized, high-level customer service is one of the most exciting areas of improvement that automation offers for small businesses. By automating historical consumer data trends, natural language processing, and algorithms that track interactions, customers can ask questions and get fast, detailed answers. 

From touchscreens to POS systems that offer a variety of payment options, automation makes life easier for the customer. Today, nearly 44% of consumers prefer interacting with chatbots over humans for customer service issues. Although automation is not perfect, human customer service representatives can process information when it comes to handling complex complaints or expectations while algorithms monitor and learn how to improve the process from the human-to-human interactions. 

Automation can help improve businesses on both the local and global scale. Yet, small businesses have the advantage to build more central and intimate networks of employees, customers, and efficient practices. It’s an exciting time for small enterprises because automation can allow them to curb costs, maintain customer expectations, and grow innovative talent. Automation is here to stay and in the long-run it will help safeguard systems, increase ROI by identifying ways to upsell and cross-sell, and improve exposure at the touch of a button.

About the Author(s)

 Jake   Croman

Jake Croman is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and college student who currently attends the University of Michigan. Jake Croman's networking experience and logistical know-how extends to his work fundraising on behalf of charitable organizations such as St Judes Children's Hospital and the Eddie Croman Foundation.

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Student University of Michigan
5 Ways Small Businesses Can Benefit from Automation