When people look back at the current decade, what will they single out as the most significant technological breakthrough? Gen-editing? Driverless cars? Wearables?
In my opinion, they’ll point to the breakthroughs in automation and artificial intelligence. In the future, there will be billions of artificial minds, intelligently organizing business processes. The cost of intelligence will essentially fall to zero.
We’re a little way off that scenario today, but we’re in the midst of a second big wave of automation that all businesses can benefit from. Many tasks that we do today in business are time-consuming and expensive. Think invoicing, or managing data. Even small amounts of automation can make a huge difference to your business and its bottom line.
Automate social media
Social media has become a key ingredient of businesses’ marketing strategies. It’s certainly lower cost than paying people to post flyers or getting your brand on a TV channel. But today, social media marketing is time-consuming. Small businesses spend hours retweeting, liking, responding and posting fresh content.
The cool thing about marketing is just how quickly it is changing as more people start using social media platforms. It’s now possible to automate a lot of the legwork involved with setting up a social media account using dashboard apps. Perhaps the most famous of these is Hootsuite, although there are plenty of others. You can now schedule posts and automate processes in a way that simply wasn’t possible in the past.
Automate supplier relationships
Today’s B2B market is big and rather messy. Different companies have different standards, making the whole thing hard to organize. Often B2B relationships break down because mistakes are made in basic processes. B2B integration services, however, hope to change all that. They now offer companies a way to automate annoying and time-consuming things like ordering parts. It is hoped that this will some of the friction currently experienced between businesses and their suppliers.
Fintech is big in the news at the moment as algorithms look set to take over the world of finance. But it’s in small business finance departments themselves that we’re likely to see the biggest impact. We’ve already seen the likes of Freshbooks, Quickbooks, and Wave dominate the accounting space. These packages allow businesses to do payroll and organize their expenses. Currently, however, companies have to manually organize their expenses in these programs. In the future, however, that will all change. The job of categorizing receipts and payments will be done by learning algorithms that rarely, if ever, make mistakes.
Finding new customers is one of the hardest things that businesses do. Today, outreach is increasingly being done through platforms, like Adwords. The problem with these platforms at the moment is that they are complicated and difficult to use. What we need is a bot that will tweak settings in real time depending on the incoming data. Bots will be able to automatically adjust your keyword settings to give you a competitive advantage. They’ll also experiment with different ads to see which work the best.