It’s been a challenging few years for businesses across the UK. Having navigated Brexit and the pandemic, they are now dealing with rising inflations and interest rates.
But as the UK’s economy heads into a recession – businesses are taking a serious look at how building Intelligent Automation into their processes can help them achieve long-term growth.
Martin Keelagher, CEO of Agile Automations, spoke of the need for firms to innovate and get ‘recession ready’ in 2023 – using the power of Intelligent Automation during a recent panel discussion.
The breakfast event was hosted by TheBusinessDesk.com in partnership with law firm JMW and it put the spotlight on SMEs and what they need to do to take their business to the next level.
“The recent economic challenges facing businesses across all sectors requires today’s SMEs to find innovative solutions to remain operationally resilient,” Martin told the audience.
What can Intelligent Automation do for me?
Martin said: “We are in a recession, and we are looking at how we can work more efficiently and do more with what we’ve got.
“We work with clients to look at what business processes they have within their organisation that we can automate, and actually take the hard work out of the business.
“So that could be anything from invoicing, it could be data cleansing, it could be communications with clients, it could be looking at how you can onboard clients so you can automate the whole process.
“We will go into an organisation, scope out their operations, and then build a dedicated robotic workforce around it.”
Intelligent Automation covers everything from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and remote desktop automation.
Asked what the key differences are between them all, the tech boss said: “It’s all about just how much interaction they have with the staff.
“So, you have processes that are completely run on their own and don’t have to have any human interaction whatsoever. It will run through the night; it might have trigger points on the servers and it’ll run processes in the background.
“If you’re a lender it can do credit checks or a loan application and automate that whole process or to a set point where an individual will have to go in and then authorise that transaction.”
The benefits of Intelligent Automation
“There are huge benefits,” pointed out Martin.
“ESG is huge at the moment, for example, and businesses of all sizes are thinking about this.
“We’re able to reduce the carbon footprint within businesses. We just recently stripped out a huge amount of paper that a client was using to send out evaluations…sometimes it’s that simple when it comes to seeing significant cost savings.
“We’ve recently started working with a legal firm to automate the creation of wills, and legal documentation, which is another quite exciting project for us because that will automate the whole process of creating the documents.
“There’s a huge scope of things we can do to help automate processes.”
A short video explainer of Agile Automations 📺
He added: “Technically we are now in a recession so organisations are looking at how they can work more efficiently with what they’ve got. At Agile Automations we’re all about unlocking the potential of the workforce, which is a key asset in any organisation and very difficult to replace.
“The savings can be quite significant and quick. In terms of the ROI, we’ve typically seen anything from six to eight months in terms of an ROI. Some projects, depending on the size, can take a little longer. But we’ve got some that may take 48 hours because it’s quick and easy automation.
“Looking ahead at 2023, we’re going to see more businesses of all sizes start to look at intelligent automation solutions.
“And actually, a lot of organisations are doing it but just that but don’t realise it.
“A lot of the tools that you see such as Microsoft 365 are basic automation tools and we just don’t realise that we’re already using them.”
What are other growth priorities?
The panel event also heard from Marc Yaffe, Managing Partner at JMW, Tom Hurst, founder of Rockstar Spirits, and Pinesh Mahta, an investor at BGF in Manchester.
Marc Yaffe spoke of the importance of people within an organisation.
Commenting about JMW’s growth over the last decade, he said: “We’ve grown from around 200 people and a turnover of around £12m only 10 years ago to more than 700 people today and turnover of £72m.
“That’s a huge credit to the management team and to the people that we have throughout the organisation as they have fuelled that growth to get us where we are today, and we’re stronger than we’ve ever been.
“I have been with JMW for a decade, and I have seen trainees join us, qualify with us, and grow with us, that’s exciting to see.
“As Martin said, people are the biggest asset for any firm, and our people have really shown what can be achieved when we all work together as a team.”
Pinesh Mehta said the focus for BGF was to continue to back good businesses across the region.
“We are here to support businesses and help them to grow and we are still seeing opportunities in the marketplace.
“There are of course some obvious challenges from a cost perspective in terms of inflation. But the other part is around recruitment.
“Recruiting and retaining talent is one of the biggest challenges for our portfolio businesses and will continue to be over the next 12 months. That has been a barrier to growth in a lot of the businesses that we back.
“But what I would say, there are lots of opportunities out there and lots of businesses keen to reach the next level of growth.”
Tom Hurst is feeling confident about the future of Rockstar Spirits after appointing Amber Beverage UK as the new distributor of its innovative spiced rum brands – Captain Webb’s Two Swallow Rum range, Grenade Overproof Spiced Rums, and Bomb Rums.
As a small start-up, the company went onto BBC’s Dragons’ Den where it successfully pitched for investment. However, Tom decided to take the entrepreneurial journey on his own.
He said: “It’s hard work when you are doing it all on your own, but we are making good progress and teaming up with distributors to take this Manchester brand global.”
“While investment might have helped with the publicity and marketing of the business, I always felt like I needed to stay in charge and do things my way.
“So, I’ve boxed myself into a big portfolio company, and for an independent business this is a good model for us to scale and grow.”
Interested in Intelligent Automation for 2023? Schedule a chat with Martin 📅