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Tips For Small Businesses On Getting Started With Intelligent Automation

By Kelly Richardson, co-founder of Infobrandz. She likes to help people build businesses through visual communication and her influential blogs.

Automation comes from intelligence. Right? Wrong. I believe actionable intelligence is the mother of automation.

Intelligent automation manages tasks and data with little to no human intervention. Additionally, automation can tackle time-consuming and repetitive tasks so businesses can spend more time on essential activities, such as innovation, strategic planning and customer engagement.

This is something I’ve experienced firsthand in my business. I’ve actively integrated artificial intelligence tools to enhance our workflow and efficiency. Whether it’s automating certain design processes or using intelligent algorithms to better understand clients’ needs, AI has become an indispensable part of our operations. This hands-on experience has not only enriched my understanding of AI and automation but also allowed me to witness the potential of this technology.

Why consider automation?

There are not many places in modern business for non-value-add, repetitive manual processes. Such processes are time-consuming and error-prone and can result in reduced productivity. Thus, to overcome these challenges and unlock true operational potential, I believe intelligent automation, enabled by AI, is a game changer in the business world. Companies might even see increases in revenue and reduced operational costs.

Consequently, many businesses are gravitating toward automation to enhance processes, improve efficiency and meet deadlines. Automation can aid in data collection and analysis and reveal patterns for informed decision-making. This can help companies adapt to market shifts, recognize growth prospects and boost revenue.

AI is a key component of intelligent automation. By using AI-enhanced automation, organizations can identify hidden opportunities and make informed decisions. AI can also help automate and personalize customer service.

How can automation be used to generate revenue?

Automation can have a significant impact on a company’s revenue. In light of the current market conditions characterized by recession headwinds, the cost of acquiring customers (known as “CAC”) has become a prominent topic of discussion. In order to enhance CAC, customer lifetime value and churn, enterprises need deeper insights throughout the sales funnel to forecast optimal resource allocation.

Intelligent AI models can help identify the customers who will provide the highest value, which ones have churn risk and who will contribute the most over their lifetime to the organization. By analyzing customer data and behaviors, the automation system can then help target high-quality leads and nurture them through the sales funnel effectively. To further optimize the revenue-generation process, the sales team can then prioritize interacting with customers and converting them into high-paying clients.

What are the challenges in implementation?

When it comes to implementing automation, I learned that the journey can be riddled with challenges. But with the right approach, these challenges can be transformed into opportunities. Here are the challenges I faced and how I addressed them:

• Lack of strategy: When introducing AI and automation to my design agency, I soon learned the importance of a measured and strategic approach rather than automating everything. For instance, we opted not to automate client onboarding to maintain our brand’s personal touch and instead automated repetitive publishing tasks for better efficiency.

• Insufficient or inaccurate data: Data is the backbone of AI, and wrong data inputs can cause major inaccuracies in AI outputs. In one of our infographic projects, we found our predictions were very inconsistent because we had input incomplete data into AI predictive analysis models. It was a valuable lesson in ensuring that we always have adequate reliable data to empower AI.

• Skills gap: This is a challenge I often discuss while helping new entrepreneurs. The AI industry is booming, but there’s still a significant shortage of talent. While scaling our company, finding the right talent with expertise in AI tools was a hurdle that we overcame by training our existing team.

• Change management: One of the most vivid memories I have is the apprehension in my team’s eyes when we first introduced automation at my company. There were fears about job security and the unknown territory of AI. I addressed these concerns by organizing workshops to educate our team on how AI would augment their roles, not replace them.

How can you get started successfully?

Applying AI and automation in my businesses hasn’t been smooth sailing, however, I soon realized that by ensuring your team is on board, educated and involved, you can easily pave the way for a successful transition. To give you practical examples, here’s how I navigated this path with my ventures:

1. Foster a culture of learning. At my content creation agency, we realized early on that to harness the power of AI, we needed a team that understood its nuances. So I initiated a program where we provided our designers and writers access to AI-focused courses. They came back with innovative ideas and became evangelists for AI within our organization.

2. Address employee fears. When we first introduced automation tools, there was palpable anxiety, and employees voiced concerns about AI tools taking over the creative process and making their roles redundant. As I mentioned, workshops where we explained how AI enhances human creativity—instead of replacing it—were instrumental in solving these fears.

3. Implement the tech gradually. Instead of a complete overhaul, I started by automating our client feedback process. This allowed our team to get comfortable with the technology. Once they saw the efficiency it brought, we moved on to automating other aspects, like design iterations and data analysis.

4. Involve employees. We also set up an AI task force comprised of members from different departments. They were responsible for identifying areas where AI could be beneficial, and this made the implementation much smoother.

I believe intelligent automation has great potential in the business world. It can help maximize employee productivity by taking care of redundant tasks and enabling high-quality insights. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, and businesses must consider how they can leverage AI and automation successfully.

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