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Established Community Backer ***

How Small Business Owners Can Benefit from Smart, Automated Technology (and Many Already Are!)

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Once upon a time the word “disrupt” meant to cause problems or to destroy a process. But in today’s competitive, fast-moving, tech-driven world, “disrupt” means to innovate -- and innovating is shorthand for winning. These days, disruption is a business goal, an industry ambition -- in short, it’s all the rage. A key part of successful disruption? Keeping up with the never-ending rollout of new technologies.

 

Consider, for example, automation technology. Automation is disrupting old, slow and inefficient approaches to getting things done and helping business owners save money, reach more customers and streamline repetitive processes.

 

The great news is that small business owners are particularly well poised to take advantage of new technologies because they can adapt more quickly to change than large corporations.

 

Who’s afraid of the big bad robot?

 

Let’s first disrupt the myth that small business owners or the self-employed are resistant to change. A recent survey from Intuit, Small Business in the Age of AI, found that small business owners are overwhelmingly in favor of adopting automation technology and machine learning. And they’re not too worried about Artificial Intelligence (AI) negatively impacting their livelihoods.

 

The study surveyed 550 small business owners and managers and found:

 

  • 54% of small businesses view automation technology positively and as an opportunity
  • 31% believe automation will allow them to grow their employee base
  • 59% said automation wouldn’t change their employee base
  • 5% see automation primarily as a threat
  • 1% think automation will bring significant job losses

 

The future is already here

 

You may not realize you’re already using automation technology, sometimes even on a daily basis. Did you save a photo to Dropbox, share a report on Google Docs or unsubscribe from an email list lately? You’re an AI pro! Of the small business owners surveyed, 66% said they were already using some form of automation technology for a variety of everyday work functions. Consider:

 

  • 29% use it for finance and billing
  • 28% for marketing
  • 27% for sales
  • 25% for customer service
  • 15% for operations
  • 9% for production

 

Small business owners really appreciate the time- and money-saving aspects of automating processes, not to mention the innovative boost their business enjoys when employing technologies like Big Data, machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

 

QB Community member, @Adam_Fenner, an accountant, has experienced first-hand how automation has made his billing so much simpler. “For my regular billings and monthly invoices to clients that are recurring, I use the functionality within the invoicing area [of QBO]. I have found it to be helpful and it saves me the effort of reinventing the wheel every month.”

 

Robots, they’re just like us

 

If you think about it, robots are not too different from entrepreneurs, really. Entrepreneurs see a need and meet a need, which is exactly what automated technology is designed to do.

 

Of course, there are still plenty of humans behind all this AI -- who else is programming and “teaching” the machines? The trick is not making them too smart. Just kidding (sort of!). The key for small business owners to effectively embrace and integrate AI in their business is to use it as a time-saving tool while still building, maintaining and strengthening the most human part of your company -- its heart.

 

“Alexa, add learning about automated technologies to my to-do list.”

 

Now it's your turn!

QB Community members, have you adopted automated technologies for use in your business? How are you using automated technology already?

 

Not yet a member? No problem. Just click HERE to sign up in a flash. Then browse around and weigh in on questions like this one!

6 Comments
Established Community Backer ***

Re: How Small Business Owners Can Benefit from Smart, Automated Technology (and Many Already Are!)

Hey @activemode - automation is your thing right now! What are you seeing as the pros and cons (if any)?

Super Explorer *

Re: How Small Business Owners Can Benefit from Smart, Automated Technology (and Many Already Are!)

This is something that I've preached for about 10 years.  If you look for my comments and posts anywhere on the internet, it ends with "... study technology".  And this is the reason why.  10 years ago I could make use of automation, with automated emails response systems that reply to simple inquiries using a client name and email, with a personalized response. 

 

So now  technology has give us access to Artificial Intelligence that can answer phone calls, and complete customer orders using a chat interface.  There are thousands of different things you can do with it, when you know what you have to work with.  Customers don't like to wait, and what they call customer service is inadequate for what customers need for internet transactions, because it's too slow and humans have "attitudes" and make mistakes that cause problems and invite Lawsuits.

 

The Auto-bots verify identities, and perform transactions based on clients needs, and they don't do anything else, unless you program them to do other things.  That's where security comes in.  It's easier to shut down a bot, with a swtitch, then catch a human being when you don't know where they are.  So reliability and Security are the most important aspect of the new technology.

My advice is to take the time to look and see what's out there, and read the articles that explain what Artificial Intelligence is, and what it's used for.  You need to learn first, and then once you know, you'll have new ideas about how to use it.

... study technnologyChatbotIntegrationTrends.png

Super Explorer *

Re: How Small Business Owners Can Benefit from Smart, Automated Technology (and Many Already Are!)

There are a lot of different ways to automate a service.  It takes a lot of research and involvement to understand automation and how to use it for what you need done.  You have to understand that when you make use of chatbots for sales, you can make a flawless profit, but the programming has to be done right.  I recommend taking the time to evaluate the technology, and talk to someone that can consult over time, and give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Established Community Backer ***

Re: How Small Business Owners Can Benefit from Smart, Automated Technology (and Many Already Are!)

That's great information and insight, @activemode! Of all of the business shifts we'll be exploring this month, AI automation definitely tops the list of new technologies that have changed/are changing the way we buy, sell, and operate day-to-day. In your opinion, are there any downsides or caveats to automating so many business functions?

Senior Explorer *

Re: How Small Business Owners Can Benefit from Smart, Automated Technology (and Many Already Are!)

Nice article.

Super Explorer *

Re: How Small Business Owners Can Benefit from Smart, Automated Technology (and Many Already Are!)

The "Industrial Revolution", somewhere around 1760 and later, caused people to reinvent themselves, and learn how to work with Machines, rather than build things by hand.  So the Technology we have to work with now, has been there long enough for people to learn how to use Computers in everyday life.   These tools we have available for Marketing Sales, and Technical Support, will be the next stage.  The Million Dollar Corporations are using it to reduce Call Centers from 300 angry people on the phone to 50 happy Specialists.  The automated response system does the rest.  I encourage advanced Programming, because you only have to do it once, then turn it on.  So no, I don't see a downside to running a Small Business with the same strength as a Corporation.