Business automation is taking leaps and bounds. No one will deny that we have already entered the era of machines. 20 years ago, such a phenomenon as artificial intelligence was mainly discussed in scientific circles. Now, according to Gartner, artificial intelligence has firmly entered our lives. Over the past year, the adoption rate of AI has tripled. Machine learning is becoming an integral part of business worldwide. Automation is already being introduced into business of any scale. So, even if you have a small business, you have no choice. To stay in the game, you need to use artificial intelligence.
However, not every owner of an enterprise, especially of a small one, clearly understands what automation is. How to automate a business? What tools and programs are available? How to train staff to use them?
Of course, it is impossible to immediately achieve a high level of business automation. As with any process, it all starts small. In this article, we will consider what stages of automation exist. Maybe it will help you to break a glass ceiling in your business.
Stage 1: Basic business automation
We can say that this stage is Excel-based. For enterprises, this means there is no automation. Probably, the only skill required from staff is knowledge of Excel. At this stage, your company is not working effectively.
If you admit your enterprise is at this stage, this is the time for you to move further. Once you automate your business processes, you will not need to sort data manually and use Excel spreadsheets. Just make the first move toward machine learning and bring your small business to the next level.
Stage 2: Advanced business automation
This stage can be called a ‘partial’ automation level. You have already started implementing business automation, but a lot of actions are still needed to be done manually. You get just limited machine assistance.
However, this is a kind of success. In the enterprise, you are no longer relying on Excel, using instead a rule-based software. At this stage, RPD (robotic process automation) is the king. Although some human actions are still needed, you are now using one of the most efficient solutions. As a result, you’ve already automated some of your company operations, which is good. Your staff can perform simple routine tasks faster, saving time for other important things. Nevertheless, without artificial intelligence, RPA is not so much intelligent. We can say, that it is a simple business automation tool. Very often, it cannot even withstand the minor changes in the interface. So, the scalability of a business using such an automation solution is quite doubtful.
If this is your case, you can make some steps to improve the situation. For example, customer relationship management (CRM) software will help you to keep your data well organized and structured. At the same time, you can work on reducing repetitions in your workflow. Use robotic tools to extract data from your everyday documentation. If you implement optical recognition, this can facilitate managing your mundane routine. Keep in mind that even the slightest automation of the business process can save your time and money.
Stage 3: Using AI
In terms of cars, we could say that an enterprise has got ‘conditional automation’. This is when the whole driving system of the car is automated. So, the car is able to self-drive and go for longer distances. Of course, it cannot go only by itself, without a driver, but the driver doesn’t have to constantly keep his attention on the road.
At this stage, your company is using the software as a service (SaaS) which includes some machine learning (ML) features. However, the business system is not automated completely, it has not become autonomous yet. Nevertheless, this level of business automation is much more efficient. Some tasks can be performed fast and smoothly. Robotic automation is left far behind. One of the major advantages of machine learning is that the result is more accurate, so the negative impact of the human factor is reduced.
Among numerous machine learning solutions choose those which tailor best the specifics of your processes. For example, AI is able to predict whether a purchase will be made by a client based on his characteristics. It can also suggest the best types of emails or time for sending an email to a potential client.
Keep in mind that the efficiency of artificial intelligence depends on the data fed to it. So, take a good care of the data updating and creation of a proprietary database. We are living in a world where any company can implement machine learning features and utilize user data from the market. So, to stay competitive, you should go extra miles. Some third-party SaaS companies can be helpful for your enterprise automating particular processes.
Stage 4: Single automated system
When you drive a highly automated car, you do not need to control it. Your vehicle can drive all on its own. You just need to correctly indicate a destination, then just sit back and relax.
In terms of an enterprise, it’s when you start using a single automated system instead of fragmented algorithms. The system is so powerful and smart that it can perform most of the business process on its own. The only thing you should do is to feed the correct data and keep an eye on it. And the most important fact is that, as time goes, your system will be getting only better.
However, at the moment, not every business can be automated. It’s difficult to give a specific suggestion here. Being a business owner you should know better than anyone what can be done in your company to increase its effectiveness. So, if you feel that you could do something in this direction, do it. You can institute your own data science department. As a result, you will obtain unique insights, because the input will be the data that only you possess.
What will be the nearest future of complete automation?
The global progress never stops. We all can be sure — the future of fully automated services keeps getting closer. Nobody knows when it comes to your business, but when it does, SaaS won’t require a human’s help at all. However, there is a still long distance to pass.
Each business that is going to be automated has its own challenges to face. What do you think about your business automation?