How can small & medium businesses boost their profitability with the power of AI & automation?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way through the world of small and medium businesses (SMBs). Nowadays, AI & automation technologies are exclusive to global corporations with large development teams. There are a handful of use cases that small & medium-sized businesses can leverage to increase the efficiency of their business processes and thus boost their profitability.

If you own a small or medium-sized company, here are six steps for you to start leveraging AI & automation:

Create the right mindset within your company about using AI & automation 

When we talk with owners and operators of SMBs, we often see fearful sentiments about AI & automation. This can range from "Robots will eventually get into conflict with humans" to "What if AI will replace my employees' jobs?". In our many years of experience in AI & automation, we have never seen such scenarios. AI & automation are here to take over the most repetitive and manual tasks so that you and your employees can have more time to focus on what matters! 

Before you use AI & automation in your business, you need to create the right culture of AI adoption within your company. If you and your employees are onboard, that technology will help them become more effective in their jobs and help your company serve more customers with higher-quality products and services. Ultimately, "digital workers" & humans will collaborate hand-in-hand to make a more thriving business with happier customers. 

Build a strategy on how you want to use AI & automation to boost your company's processes

The next step is to create a strategy to boost your business processes using AI & automation. At the beginning of your automation journey, you need to have a clear step-by-step strategy on how you want to implement AI & automation in your business and how your employees will use AI to produce more results for the company. Clarifying the AI & automation strategy gives you a strong starting point to set the right expectations and effectively plan your AI projects.

Determine AI & automation solutions that can partly or fully automate your selected processes

Once you have a framework for how your company should implement AI & automation for your business processes, you can start identifying the use cases you want to implement. This will help your company to see measurable results and realize the power of business process automation. This step is the most crucial stage in the AI & automation project because it determines the actual business processes that will be automated. By mapping out various business processes and identifying the critical and repetitive tasks that can be outsourced to automation technology, you can find the low-hanging fruits that can create results and boost your business's processes in the short term.

Implement the AI & automation solutions for your selected business processes

The solution must be lean, easy to implement, and fine-tuned to your business processes. In this step, you can find concrete AI & automation solutions for the use cases you identified in the previous stage. Sometimes, multiple vendors already offer standard off-the-shelf solutions on the market. In that case, your implementation phase is much easier because many other businesses are leveraging an existing product already proven. However, sometimes you need a customized solution that can meet all your requirements for your company's business processes. In this case, you can benefit from the technical expertise of your internal teams or work with external vendors that can provide an easy and affordable way to implement fully customized AI & automation solutions. 

Continuously optimize how you use AI & automation technologies in your daily processes.

After successfully implementing your AI & automation use case, the most crucial step is continuously optimizing your usage of the implemented technology solution. There are three ways you can do so: i) by continuously measuring the outcomes of your automation solution and developing action plans with your technical teams to improve its performance, (ii) by providing adequate and ongoing training to your employees who are supposed to work or benefit from the automation solutions, and (iii) to evaluate and brainstorm on what are implications of using the automation solutions for other processes in your business and what are the ideas for further possible improvements.

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