What does the future have in store? A question that has probably been asked more times than anyone can count over the last 18 months. And one that seems to have a different answer every day. COVID-19 has disrupted everything in its path and changed the environment around us in ways we didn’t think was possible. Work has changed. Learning has changed. The way we consume has changed and it’s all happening rather quickly. Changes in behaviour that pundits believed were decades away occurred in months and there’s no sign of this cultural and societal change slowing down anytime soon.
The problem is keeping up with it all and ensuring that your business is future proof. The solution? Enter automation. In a changing environment, one that requires agility, speed and accuracy, automation has offered it’s hand in generating solutions to issues highlighted by COVID. It’s working too. Automation technologies have provided short-term solutions that have allowed businesses to stay open through lockdowns and work safely. However, there’s still a lot of uncertainty around the future of automation and the long-term effects of implementing it.
So, what does the future post-COVID have instore for SMEs? Is it going to be everything we’ve feared it to be? Is it actually sustainable over the long-term?
As we discussed in a recent article, in the current business environment, automation technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), have helped many businesses continue operating through lockdowns and social distancing measures. But it didn’t come without issues. In the UK, a survey conducted by Studio Graphene found 49 percent of businesses were not prepared to transition to remote working, and 39 percent did not have the technology to support it. This meant 48 percent of firms had to invest in software and 72 percent of firms had to invest in new hardware. These changes usually would have occurred gradually over the course of a couple of years, giving firms time to investigate the best possible solution. Instead, changes occurred rapidly, and automation technologies were implemented within weeks. It was no longer about thriving. It was about surviving.