Will small businesses and startups be needed to lead the digital future?

James Longbottom
James Longbottom

The digital future is a term that anchors many ideas of knowledge systems, Information, technology, artificial intelligence, automation and much more. But are we moving there at all and what does this future really look like. I think the focus is not at the whole piece of the pie; many big companies eg google, Amazon, big banks, automative industry etc have adopted many digital systems for a range of reasons. You could say they are focusing on a digital future to build efficiency, reduce manual tasks and ultimately increase profits. But surely hitting a digital future is down to the majority, not the biggest hitters alone?

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At the start of 2019 the UK had 5.9 million private businesses, 99% of which are categorised as SME’s – Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

The focus not only needs to be at SME’s but startups too, as the new wave of industry and business may include the new systems and processes that get us nearer to a “digital future”

Focusing on startups 

Startups paint a picture of the future, they include new products and services that become mainstream and normalised in the future. However 10% of startups fail within the first year, 90% fail at some point (Failory). It could be assumed that this kind of failure can be associated to many things, but a common one is efficiency. 

What is important 

Efficiency is important as it effects all aspects of a business, from customer interactions, to delivering, each step of a process that any company operates with demands time and resources, streamlining and reducing time and cost are guaranteed within all industries to ensure operation, even if it means for longer. 

Small businesses are spending an average of 120 working hours a year on administrative tasks, according to research from Sage

Another hugely important statistic is the time spent on back office, on average 5.6 percent of staff time in each UK-based small business is used doing back-office tasks. With turnover from small businesses totalling £2.2 trillion in 2018, that level of repetitive back office tasks cumulates a large proportion of work. 

It is vital to provide the right information on what is possible, providing the same systems (even simpler often) to startups and SME’s. Systems such as document analysis or process automation can allow simple additions to the workflow of a company and let employees focus on more cognitive tasks that a human is more able to complete. Its painful to consider how many scaling companies are relying on time draining manual process that can be replaced with intelligent systems. 

There is often a roadmap, more often than not, a simple high value focused system installation provides many things, instant efficiency and confidence in digital systems (if done the right way of course). This can then lead to better and more intelligent solutions to move fully into digital. 

Humans are not designed to deal with big data. Repetitive tasks take time and can include human error. People posses bias that skews decisions. Delays lead to bad customer experience. Simple automation or Artificial intelligence systems provide a roadmap for relabel process that not only allow companies to stay alive in the current climate, but scale and grow. 

Adoptions of this kind of technology are being integrated in many industries and companies 

For example

– Betterment is a an automated financial investing platform and is now serving 250,000 customers. 

– Alphasense is a financial search engine that more than 800 finical firms use every day. 

– Drift is a conversational marketing tool that is currently being used by 100,000 businesses. 

The demand for AI and other digital systems is growing and is set to increase.

Are you ready for a more digital future?  

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