Many small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) navigating the post-pandemic world are enthusiastically pursuing growth opportunities. But as they strive to expand operations and push capacity, one factor continues to hamper their success: labor issues. A recent employee engagement survey from SCORE found that “small business owners rank hiring the right talent (60.7%) and retaining/motivating employees (33%) as their number one and number three challenges, respectively.”
This challenge to attain and retain employees is pushing businesses outside of their comfort zones. Instead of relying solely on traditional recruitment methods (e.g., filtering thousands of resumes, posting on job boards) and conventional employee-motivating techniques (e.g., offering money, vacations, and remote-work incentives), businesses are now exploring how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation can solve hiring and retention problems.
Today, we’ll examine what AI automation is and how it delivers meaningful benefits to businesses and employees alike.
What AI Is and Does
Though AI has raised questions and concerns over security, reliability, and ethics, its capabilities are already recasting how businesses operate. By generating text and images based on user prompts or by directing and automating tasks, AI can help workers get more done—with fewer errors—and make faster, data-driven decisions.
With AI and automation, mundane tasks are accomplished quickly and efficiently, working seamlessly in the background. For instance, AI/ML-enabled business management systems automatically handle data entry, bank reconciliation, route optimization, and inventory replenishment tasks through zero-touch automation.
One example of zero-touch automation is accounts payable (AP) invoicing.
Companies that manage numerous invoices often manually enter the details into their accounting systems. It’s a time-consuming, error prone task that becomes obsolete with AI-powered AP document recognition, like Acumatica’s. In a nutshell, the feature “reads” the information on an invoice—identifying the supplier’s name, invoice number, date, and due amount—and automatically populates the correct fields in the accounting software.
If changes are made during the approval process, the machine learns from those changes. From reducing mistakes and speeding up invoice recording processes to making approvals easier, AI/ML technology not only saves businesses significant time, effort, and pain, it also releases current—and prospective—employees from the mind-numbing, routine tasks that steal hours from their already full workdays, making their jobs faster, easier, and more enjoyable.
Interactive Assistance and Intelligent Advisor
AI/ML technology goes another step further, providing interactive assistance and helping employees streamline problem solving. With natural language search, helpdesk self-support, warehouse shipping and receiving features, and guided reporting and analytics functions, AI acts as an intelligent advisor. It retrieves the data needed to perform complex activities, including anomaly detection, special approvals, product recommendations, and more.
For customer support teams, AI automation boosts efficiency to new levels. For example, repeatedly answering similar questions from different customers is a thing of the past. With the right tools, customer service reps can use AI suggestions, drawn from past interactions, to customize their responses quickly.
With its interactive assistance and intelligent advisor capabilities, AI/ML technology is an efficient and effective tool for employees and an attractive benefit businesses can promote as they seek talent in a very competitive labor market.
AI Automation Technology in Real Life
Inspirus LLC has experienced firsthand the many benefits of implementing AI automation technology.
Inspirus is a SaaS company that offers personalized digital reward experiences for enterprise customers. Before implementing Acumatica, Inspirus limped along with a decades-old financial and business management system that couldn’t provide in-depth data. The company was also managing invoices manually and lacked customer analysis, material requirements planning, inventory visibility, and remote access features.
And, like many SMBs, Inspirus found itself needing to focus on retaining employees after the pandemic. Says CEO Tatiana Frierson:
When somebody walks out the door, it costs on average $70,000 to replace that person. There’s an impact to the business. What can we do as leaders to help retain that human capital asset in our company?
To retain employees and solve the business’s many inefficiencies, Frierson initiated the search for a new ERP system.
Going with the Affordable, Intuitive, and Open ERP Solution
Frierson, understanding that ERP success rests on employee buy-in, included her whole team in the Inspirus digital transformation plan. Together, they evaluated SAP, Oracle NetSuite, Sage X3, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Acumatica. Acumatica’s affordability, user-friendliness, and open architecture for low-code/no-code integration with third-party applications sealed the deal.
Sue Severns, Inspirus’s Strategic Realization Officer Senior Director, says, “Acumatica’s intuitive design, enterprise scalability, and flexible pricing model made [it] an excellent fit for Inspirus….”
She adds, “With its unlimited user licensing model, we could add auditors at no cost, and we could connect to Velixo for reporting. Acumatica was also multi-tenant, SOC compliant, and provide[d] a sandbox for upgrade testing.”
With Acumatica, Inspirus automated many manual tasks, and they now:
- Use Acumatica invoice templates and have the system send those invoices to multiple customers automatically.
- Customize their invoices to improve collection rates.
- Automatically import sales orders into Acumatica from multiple commerce platforms.
- Apply no-code customizations to automate their warehouse fulfillment, vendor drop-shipment, and digital redemption processes.
Says Severns, “Acumatica is essential to Inspirus as we evolve our products and scale our operations.”
The Magic of Automation: Increasing Efficiency, Attracting and Retaining Talent
Acumatica Cloud ERP is built on an intelligent platform that seamlessly incorporates AI and ML, empowering employees to use their skills to the fullest making them more fulfilled in their roles and making the business more attractive to prospective employees..
With their deep knowledge of their organizations, workers can be more productive by identifying inefficiencies by putting a spotlight on bottlenecks, repetitive tasks, anomalies, errors, and untapped sales opportunities. They can then apply AI automation to quickly solve those problems and keep them solved—the very definition of user-driven AI automation. All this makes businesses more efficient while freeing employees to focus on higher-value tasks that build success. Free from manual drudgery, workers have time to be creative and employ the “big picture” thinking that leads to innovation and growth.
We are just scratching the surface of the capabilities AI delivers for SMBs. By automating their workflows with Acumatica’s AI technology, businesses achieve real-world benefits and place powerful tools in employees’ hands—making their jobs more efficient, less stressful, and more rewarding. This boosts retention rates and attracts new team members excited to embrace cutting-edge technology.