Companies have used automation for business and manufacturing processes for many years. Automation has improved business efficiency by using standalone software for desktop computers, advanced enterprise software like ERP, MES, and MRP systems hosted on in-house servers, and mechanical task automation.
But today, business automation has advanced to a point where companies can gain a distinct competitive advantage over others in their industry.
Using disruptive technologies born out of the digital age, companies can now leverage at or near-real-time data to automate their business processes. This trend allows them to create new goods and services or to respond more quickly and intuitively to boost brand name and recognition.
Disruptive Technology in the Digital Age
New digital technology goes beyond automating mechanical processes or taking a step above spreadsheet analysis. Those things improve efficiency at the point of use.
Disruptive technologies used today integrate deeply within processes and operate at or near real-time to use automation in conjunction with advanced analytics to drive prescriptive and predictive insights.
Disruptive technologies used to automate to drive innovation and offer a competitive edge include:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Machine Learning
- Industrial IoT
- Digital Twin Technology
- 3D Printing
The Benefits of Advanced Automation Systems
There are several competitive benefits to advanced process automation:
- Lower Cost – Automation drives lean initiatives, lowers headcount, reduces waste, and optimizes the management of resources like inventory.
- Greater Customer Focus – Because many new technologies are at or near real-time, customer preferences, demand, and market changes are spotted quickly. This allows companies to produce goods and services tailored to accurate consumer tastes.
- Greater Flexibility – The importance of automation in gaining and keeping a competitive advantage was highlighted by recent disruptions like COVID-19, trade wars, and other global events. Companies with agile and flexible automation systems could respond quickly and pivot to what consumers needed or introduce new products geared explicitly toward mitigating or responding to these disruptions.
- Built-in Standardization: Established companies are a patchwork of systems, workflows, and SOPs. Startups must develop these elements into their business as they begin operation, and automation requires bringing all systems under a single data source of truth to work. This systemization means that startups can standardize processes from the beginning and avoid the risk of siloing data and piecing together disparate standalone systems that need to be changed later.
How Automation Makes Companies More Competitive
As we touched on above, business-process automation allows companies to become more adaptable. For example, the recent string of disruptions upended the trend of developing supply chains based on Lean and Just in Time (JIT) inventory strategies.
Companies with flexible automation systems have been able to find new sources, develop near-shoring and reshoring strategies, and pivot quickly to address sudden transportation and logistics issues.
With a growing focus on ESG, a company’s brand and products have never been under more scrutiny. These elements drive the decision-making for many consumers to buy or not to buy products and services.
Automation helps manage regulatory and compliance while allowing companies to build sustainability and closed loop functionality into their product loop. The analysis and tasks required to do this wouldn’t be possible without a high degree of automation.
Data collection and processing are also critical to companies today. Both established companies and startups have access to automation systems that use real-time data for everything from mechanical automation and robotics to sensing demand based on the data collected.
Automate from the Beginning
The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College offers programs, guidance, mentorship, and academic and community guidance on entrepreneurship, innovation, research, development, and more.
We can help new business leaders and entrepreneurs discover the automation that works for them to give them a competitive advantage at this critical time in their business life.
Contact us today to find out how we can help.