Is automation an ally, helping smaller enterprises to survive the social, economic and technological disruption of the coronavirus pandemic? It would appear so from the 2021 Zapier State of Business Automation Report.
The report is a comprehensive study of how automation is helping some types of businesses to cope and thrive during the pandemic.
The advantages of introducing automated operations include higher productivity, improved reliability, greater availability, improved performance, and reduced operating costs.
The report, while examining various industry trends, has a specific focus on the small and medium-sized business community. The report also notes there are over 3,000 common apps that small businesses use.
The report finds that the coronavirus situation has triggered many smaller businesses to innovate. Here, the report finds that 88 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses report that innovating through automation allows their company to compete with larger companies in weathering the pandemic.
A second finding of interest is with how automation has led to a rise in productivity. In relation to this, 67 percent of company managers report being more productive at work during the pandemic as a result of automating essential business functions.
A third area that highlights the practical application of automation is clustered around technology reducing repetitive tasks. In turn, this is something that helps to reduce workplace stress, especially with tasks that cause a degree of frustration or anguish.
In relation to this area, the report finds that 63 percent of workers indicated that using automation at work has helped them fight burnout during the pandemic and 65% are less stressed overall because they automate tasks.
However, automation projects can often go wrong and simply putting in place automation is not always the answer for questions around improving business efficiency. Obsolescence and inappropriate technology is one issue. Here several of the current crop of gung-ho technology companies will simply not survive. Hence, careful selection is important. One reason for the failures around app start-ups is because too many companies take a top-tech approach and proceed to miss the market realities completely.
Another area of concern relates to the businesses themselves. If systems and process are not optimized, simply putting in place automation may only serve as a short-term panacea. To really drive change, a root-and-branch overall of processes is required at the outset. In other words, decide who to change and then adapt the technology.