Bridging the Automation Gap for SMEs- Part 1: Where to Start


In today's rapidly evolving technological landscape, automation has emerged as a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. Yet, while large corporations have been quick to embrace and benefit from automation, many Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) lag behind. This disparity often leaves SMEs behind and less competitive. The point where SMEs are currently (without automation, or very little) and where they want to go is referred to as the "automation gap". Let's delve into the reasons behind this gap, how it may impact an SME and explore actionable steps to bridge it.

The Automation Gap: A Closer Look

There are so many moving parts to the integration of a new automation system. Many large companies have specialists they can call to decipher the complex ecosystems included in the ever-changing landscape that is automation.
Automation offers a plethora of benefits, from streamlining operations and reducing errors to enhancing customer experiences. However, SMEs often face unique challenges in adopting automation:
Limited Resources: High initial costs can deter SMEs from investing in automation.
Lack of Awareness: Many SMEs may not be fully aware of the potential benefits or believe that automation is only for large corporations.
Skill Gaps: The lack of in-house expertise can make the transition to automated systems seem out-of-reach.

Starting Points to Bridge the Gap

Awareness and Education: SMEs need to understand the long-term ROI of automation. Workshops, success stories, and online resources can demystify automation and highlight its tangible benefits.
Cost-effective Solutions: With the rise of open-source tools and modular solutions, automation doesn't have to break the bank. SMEs can start small and scale as they see results one step at a time.
Training and Skill Development: Investing in training can equip SMEs with the skills needed to implement and manage automated systems, turning a potential barrier into a strength.
Financial Incentives: By leveraging grants, subsidies, or partnerships, SMEs can offset the initial costs of automation.
Vendor Collaboration: Many automation solution providers offer demos or trial periods. SMEs can take advantage of these to test the waters before committing.
Community Engagement: Networking with other businesses and joining online forums can provide SMEs with insights, recommendations, and shared experiences.

Embracing the Future

Automation isn't just a trend; it's the future of efficient and competitive business operations. For SMEs, bridging the automation gap isn't just about keeping pace—it's about unlocking new avenues for growth, innovation, and success.
By taking proactive steps and leveraging available resources, SMEs can navigate the automation journey, ensuring they remain at the forefront of their industries.
If you want to learn more about the impact of technology and specifically automation on the future of work and business, read the World Economic Forum's 2020 The Future of Work Report.

Consider subscribing to our newsletter! This is the part 1 of a 6-part series discussing the tangible steps that SMEs can take to further their goal of taking a pragmatic approach to scaling up their exposure to automation. If you have any questions about how we can help you achieve your business automation goals, contact us for a consultation!