An Investor’s View: Does Brexit Create Environment to Close Productivity Gap?

A lot of the debate has centered around access to talent under whatever changes Brexit brings. At the same time you see the occasional article or debate about the productivity gap between the UK and other nations. I have yet to come across anyone talking about the two things in tandem.

It is possible we are going to be faced with a reduced pool of talent and businesses will have to get more out of their existing work forces if they want to expand. Investment into the automation of existing processes can play a big part in this.

There has been a huge drive towards digitalisation over the past decade – you’d be hard pressed to find an industry, organisation or individual that has not been affected in some way or other. This trend looks set to continue for the foreseeable future with the proliferation of the Internet-of-Things, ever increasing computing power and the emergence of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence all combining to enable more and more electronic data to be captured, stored and analysed.

It is only now however, as organisations start to reach maturity in their digital transformation programs, that the real power of digitalisation is starting to be explored and developed. We are seeing a wide range of businesses turning their attention to how they can gain real competitive advantage from their digital systems and processes, and more often than not, the key to unlocking that potential is through automation.

Dispelling the Myths

Often Automation is considered a dirty word, a euphemism for job cuts and in some industries, such as manufacturing, this can sometimes unfortunately be the case. Focusing only on this element of automation is to miss the much wider, more exciting opportunity presented by embracing the power of automation. Automation within a business, even on a relatively small scale focused on a particular aspect of a businesses operations, can be transformational and facilitate the development a real competitive advantage.

Automating tasks that would previously have been very time consuming or labour intensive can free up staff’s time to focus on the really important aspects of their job, which cannot be automated so easily, such as developing strategy, planning, selling or spending more time building customer relationships.

A good example is the work undertaken at Fluent Money Group to automate its processes around choosing the right products for customers in a highly compliant way. “At Fluent we have automated many of our processes to ensure that the data provided to us by our clients automatically generates the correct set of applicable lending products for them – this makes it easy for our employees to advise on the best product for that particular client, whilst at the same time ensuring that as a business we are highly compliant in the advice we give,” says Kevin Hindley the CEO of Fluent. “We are based in an area of full employment and currently recruiting heavily but that brings challenges. Through automation, we have not only grown our business without expanding our work force at the same rate, but also made our employees working lives a little easier and more rewarding. We certainly see this as a force for good.”

The Case for Automation

All things being equal, enhanced productivity within a business should result in enhanced profitability – although nothing new, this doctrine becomes particularly pertinent in the current climate of political and economic uncertainty, where revenue growth alone cannot be relied upon to deliver shareholders’ returns expectations. In times of low economic growth or in climates where expansive strategies might be deemed too risky or unappealing, the “winners” in a given market are often the ones who find ways “work smarter” to enhance profitability. After the digitalisation revolution of the last few years, automation is an obvious place to look for such value enhancing opportunities.

The areas in which automation can be applied are vast and pretty much only limited by the ability to digitise the underlying workflows or data. The explosion in digitalisation has created countless opportunities for businesses of all sizes to reassess the way in which they operate; generating opportunities to innovate, accelerate processes and disrupt their home markets. The most common areas to see automation solutions deployed at the moment are finance and accounting, e-commerce, manufacturing, logistics and marketing but undoubtedly other, increasingly complex areas will also be automated as new solutions are developed and businesses embrace new technologies.

An Investor’s View

We believe that businesses who make the brave step of embracing the power of automation within their systems and platforms are most likely to achieve exponential growth and become market leaders in their particular field. Those who embrace automation tend to generate an advantage over their competitors, through their ability to process higher volumes of business at a lower cost – naturally leading to enhanced productivity and increased profitability; features which are highly attractive to investors.

We are actively seeking businesses who have already embraced automation within their business or operating model. We like to partner with ambitious management teams who have plans to drive growth and profitability in their business through the power of automation.

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