Can AI become Affordable Investment for Mid Market ?

The Challenge of automation for mid market

Much of the world of AI and Automation is aimed at large enterprises. Projects can be expensive and complex, so for mid-market organisations it can be difficult to see the business case. Robotic Process Automation is the fastest-growing software market in the world. Some predictions suggest it will be worth as much as $27bn globally in the next five years. For this to be the case, growth must come from mid-market organisations looking to automate, so that they can compete with their larger rivals. Analysts agree that automation is essential for success. But for a mid-market organisation, AI has to stand for Affordable Investment.

Numerous studies show that RPA can reduce operational cost by 25 per cent and 50 per cent and the main reason for purchase is to optimise efficiency.

And recent research (Grant Thornton Global Mid Market Survey 2020) says that mid-market organisations are resource constrained. Less than 30 per cent considered taking on new staff in 2021. At the same time, almost half of them (46 per cent) want to improve flexibility and there is a real shift towards digital transformation. If there has ever been a service that can address these issues it’s automation – freeing up your limited staff numbers to help you be more flexible, utilising technology to make the transformation. Surely they should be beating the doors down of every automation provider …

So why aren’t they?

As you might expect, there are some barriers. The main things we see fall into four areas:

Perceived barriers of AI for Mid Market

  • Initial investment cost – setting out an upfront cost to try and deliver an unknown project is difficult at any time, especially when the technology is perceived as a stuff of the future (The Myths of AI)
  • IT burden – Mid-market organisations tend to have smaller, more focused, IT teams. They stick to what they do well, and new projects are limited to the most important. Not a bad thing at all – but there’s not much room for a perceived vanity project.
  • Employee engagement – automation equals job losses in many people’s minds and as such engagement levels are unlikely to be high. Turkeys and Christmas come to mind.
  • Speed of ROI – project payback is the age-old challenge. The inevitable question springs to mind: Can we pay for this within our operational budget, or is it a capital expenditure that requires a detailed business case and prioritisation review.

How to start? Some sensible suggestions

  1. Engage your team – they know how to improve what they do. A team driven project will have much higher engagement.
  2. Set clear objectives – what are you trying to achieve and how valuable will it be to you? Break it down with some milestones.
  3. Start small and develop – this doesn’t have to be a huge transformation. This is a process of incremental improvement. Each bot can pay for itself.
  4. Pick the right partner – ask about flexible pricing, measuring return and how to work with your IT team.
  5. Measure your progress – the initial business case will look good, the ongoing one will get better and better.

It really can become an Affordable Investment for mid market this AI stuff.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

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