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AI is an SMB game changer for efficiency

Efficiency continues to be a prominent focus for Australian organisations, especially ones with smaller teams. For SMBs, it is vital that every practice, technological solution and innovative idea looks to make their organisation less complex, more efficient and in turn more successful. In the strive for greater efficiency, organisations are harnessing tools that reshape the amount of work than can be done by a team of any size, all through AI. With AI, SMBs can reach new levels of efficiency despite their smaller size.

AI has taken the centre stage

Commonly referred to as AI, artificial intelligence is not a new development. However, only recently are organisations witnessing some of the enhancements it can bring to their operations. The rise of generative AI engines like ChatGPT have shown clear value for all organisations and have rocketed in priority for SMBs. CSIRO’s Australia’s AI ecosystem momentum report found 56 per cent of AI providers believe the AI industry has the necessary expertise to deliver positive outcomes to Australian businesses.

SMBs have developed a deeper understanding and desired outcomes from AI, evolving from narrow minded chat bots to a wider objective of business efficiency and widespread ROI into all departments, especially IT. The report found that 31 percent believe it will improve operational efficiency and effectiveness, and in 2023, when cost pressures are continuing to mount on smaller budgets navigating economic uncertainty, AI will become decisive to optimising IT support and easing workload pressures for smaller teams.  

Smaller IT teams are still facing big challenges

The change in workplace models has seen a variety of new applications and technologies implemented by SMBs to address the new ways of working. Many SMBs quickly adopted a wide range of services to address the changes of remote working, which, despite a short-term gain, led to later problems in upholding these disparate applications. GoTo’s recent 2023 IT Priorities Report found 52 per cent of Australian SMBs believe their IT Team workload increased last year, with the top three reasons being more tasks to perform, more challenges related to remote working, and increased pressure.  

As IT workers face more stress and responsibility, it is important they are provided with high-quality tools to carry out operations efficiently. SMBs cannot approach technology with a set-and-forget approach, and it becomes pivotal for IT support that technology is continually updated and adapted to suit changing needs, and the latest innovation that provide the greatest ROI are invested in.  

This becomes especially important with the current cyber threats. Attacks continue to rise, and Australia has recently witnessed a plethora of cyber-attacks, especially on SMBs, given their typical less fortified cybersecurity posture. CSIRO’s report found 42 per cent of respondents believe AI will improve security, and when accompanied by solutions that utilise zero trust architecture, which have become invaluable for SMBs to remain secure, it can help dispersed workforce within organisations remain secure.  

While cyber threats remain a prominent focus for IT workers, day-to-day issues will not disappear, so SMBs need to be equipped with technology that addresses all aspects of support across a business while still being easy to manage. When IT teams have technology that improves productivity, it will in turn improve the efficiency of the rest of the organisations. Employees can work productively and engage with minimal technological issues and quick incident response times, enhancing the overall performance of the business.

Utilising AI to address SMB challenges

For IT support in SMBs, AI provides the opportunity to improve the quality and quantity of work. Many IT workers’ workload increase were not supported by a commensurate increase in the amount of time to complete each task, leading to tighter deadlines and turnarounds for their job. AI provides a cost-effective solution that can ease workloads by automating mundane tasks and reducing instances of error in time poor staff. SMBs that implement AI in their IT support technology stack can:

  • Automate script writing: Tasks such as script writing are integral, but challenging due to how time consuming they are. If AI could automate script writing for jobs like device management, smaller IT teams can reallocate time to addressing other critical tasks. Furthermore, AI can help with upskilling staff members, as less experienced IT workers who have not yet learnt how to write specific scripts, can now train AI to write scripts without the technical know-how. This becomes increasingly valuable for organisations with fewer staff.

  • Reduce repetitive working: IT workers are typically faced with repetitive tasks such as resetting passwords, restarting machines, and backing up files. With AI, workers will be able to concentrate on higher impact tasks by automating these repetitive jobs to run on a repeated process and even augmented process through machine learning, rather than needing manual input every time.

  • Make smaller budgets go further: For many SMBs, budget needs to be preciously allocated, especially with looming economic uncertainty. AI provides a cost-effective solution for SMBs as it frees up time for IT employees to achieve more by focusing on higher-value priorities, which leads to a ripple effect of more output for the SMB, and therefore more success.

As SMBs progress in 2023, AI will become an essential tool for operations. Organisations will continue to face mounting pressures, and IT teams continue to take on more responsibilities. SMBs who implement artificial intelligence into IT support will not only increase the productivity of IT support but produce more efficiency and greater ROI for the business.

Andrew Kernebone, Head of Solutions Consulting APAC, GoTo.

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