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November 12, 2018updated 03 Jan 2019 3:25pm

Automation will save time and money, giving SMEs a chance against larger rivals

By Priya Kantaria

Fintech company Centtrip has found that one in five UK medium-sized businesses believe automation will help them compete with their larger rivals.

Three-quarters of UK medium-sized and large companies already use automation in some parts of their business, and one third use automation across the entire company.

Despite the fears that automation brings for employees, employers recognise the benefits of pursuing automation. It is no surprise then that a third of businesses say automation could save them a significant amount of money.

Automation, threat or opportunity?

At the moment, larger firms use automation more than smaller rivals, with 32% of large companies using it throughout their business, as opposed to 24% of medium-sized companies.

Automation, the performance of tasks without human assistance, is seen as a threat and an opportunity.

It is widely seen as a possible cause of mass job losses, but at the same time heralded by business as a way to save money.

The World Economic Forum reported that automation is likely to displace 75m jobs but also create 133m new ones.

This reflected in the Centtrip survey. A quarter of businesses interviewed by Centtrip said they would reduce staff numbers as automated services are introduced into the company. However, they would also need to hire new staff with more specialist skills.

Some 42% of medium-sized forms recognised that automation would save them time and 37% said it would let staff focus more on strategy.

Automation: The digital revolution

Centtrip chief executive officer and co-founder Brian Jamieson said:

“Automation represents the onset of the digital revolution across sectors and industries.

“It is already transforming the way companies operate, boosting productivity and innovation in the fields that long relied on old-fashioned and often inefficient processes and systems.

“While potentially bearing considerable initial costs, once implemented, automated services have the potential to pave the way for smaller and medium-sized companies to catch up with their larger competitors that may employ more people and have better resources.”

Automation scepticism

Robotic processing-automation company UiPath found that of 1,000 UK office workers, 34% believe robots and automation will deliver more interesting and creative jobs for future generations.

Some 71% spend at least one day every week on repetitive tasks that could be managed by robots.

However, 78% of employees were uncertain that robots could step in and help, with half saying robots would be no help at all.

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