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Tech-Savvy or Not, Here's Why Businesses Must Embrace Automation Now AI is the servant — not the master — when it comes to future-proofing small and medium-sized businesses against inevitable change.

By Alidar Utemuratov Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • When evaluating your team's readiness to adopt agile enterprise services through automation, focus on people's technical affinity, not their age.
  • It is better for small and medium-sized businesses to adopt agile enterprise automation services now rather than scrambling to catch up later when it has become the industry standard.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I know 70-year-olds who are more tech-oriented than I am — and I am the CEO of a fast-scaling tech company. I also know young people from IT companies who are not at all tech-savvy.

So, when evaluating your team's readiness to adopt agile enterprise services through automation, focus on people's technical affinity, not their age. In my experience, hesitance is more about awareness and often begins at the top. Business leaders first need to accept that automation is the way of the future before it can be scaled for maximum impact.

Embracing this tech is vital because agile methodologies not only enhance processes and workflows, but make a company's adaptability to change a competitive strength. Yet automation takes agile services a step further by allowing for rapid software deployment and continuous optimization with minimal oversight. Ironically, resistance to using automation to drive change is what can really cause disruption to a business. That is why I suggest it is better for small and medium-sized businesses to adopt agile enterprise automation services now rather than scrambling to catch up later when it has become industry standard — here is how:

Establish a baseline for change through metrics

Metrics are concrete evidence of what works in an organization's processes and what can be improved with automation. Using KPIs and data on customer satisfaction and performance plots the baseline for change and offers a diagnostic of where sluggishness is inhibiting growth. For the owners and leaders of SMEs who may feel they do not always have the time or resources to prioritize optimization, see the problems identified by metrics and who might be affected as an exciting opportunity to bring everyone up to speed.

That is always my approach: I get excited by what is possible. When evaluating any agile enterprise option, the first question should be, "Where does the human factor bring risk?" Then, find the services that will automate those processes. This may include centralizing task management so the right people are assigned to jobs, people are aware of who is responsible for what across functions, and deadlines are never missed. Automation can also track inventory levels and replenish stock, standardize contracts, and free up finance and accounting from manual processing that may produce costly errors.

For content creators, keeping up with trending topics, managing a content calendar, and scheduling posts is labor-intensive. Use analytics to track engagement and find out where automation will reduce friction. In all these areas, establishing a baseline will paint an unambiguous picture of where improvements can be made and help drive continuous improvement.

Related: Automation Is Becoming a Business Imperative: Don't Wait Until It's Too Late

Don't change what already works

A good rule of thumb for being smart with automation is: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. While automation promises great efficiencies and can set up companies for growth, do not even try to introduce it to areas that are already operating as a well-oiled machine. Instead, narrow the focus to where the organization is getting bogged down by duplication, repetition, unwieldy bureaucracy, and handling large volumes of data.

We set up a system where decisions are automatically delegated for approval, and documentation is automatically generated. This was an area where we had noticed a significant slowdown, and by removing the unnecessary layers in the process, such as calling the manager and drawing up special reports, we created so much more efficiency.

However, we were also mindful that other areas of the business where the human touch is helpful were to be left alone. Building client relationships can never be outsourced to technology and certain aspects of customer service rely on empathetic human interaction. So, be clear about your business goals and consumer expectations to know which processes to target.

Related: How to Ensure Tech Doesn't Overshadow Your Brand's Human Touch

Strike the right balance to guarantee quality

It is human to make mistakes, but sometimes those errors can go unnoticed and cause larger problems down the line. Automation provides consistency and accuracy while also identifying errors from sometimes complex streams of information. This comes back to the first point about metrics. When our inspection mechanisms are so precise, we have better visibility into how our teams are working and can accurately track the progress of the established baseline.

Identifying risks and automating those processes will then allow leaders to make quality guarantees to their stakeholders. However, some human oversight of automation will still be required for quality assurance, especially whenever complexity, security, and regulatory compliance are involved. To strike the right balance, create a set of best practices by piloting and testing the automation of agile services in a controlled environment.

In the meantime, leaders should never lose sight of the purpose of automation in the first place as they create internal alignment around their new goals. People need to know that decision-making, innovation, and creativity all benefit from AI's capacity to synthesize complex data because it gives them the most relevant and accurate information to do all of those things better.

Better late than never to become more agile

Automating processes normally undertaken by humans can be a daunting prospect for small and medium-sized businesses. That hesitance must be overcome because the reality is this tech transformation will not be slowing down for late adopters. To bring people on board for the change requires clear communication about how automation will make human control of repetitive tasks redundant — and make the business itself more agile and competitive. That should be good news for everyone, whether they are tech-savvy or a tech neophyte.

Alidar Utemuratov

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder and CEO of DAR

Alidar Utemuratov, founder and CEO of DAR, is an entrepreneurial force transforming Kazakhstan's digital economy.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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