Less is more

How SMEs can use AI smartly to increase productivity

Less is more: how SMEs can use AI smartly to increase productivity

Flexible and hybrid working has quickly become standard practices in many businesses, and many employees have successfully adapted to these new ways of working. As a result, companies have expanded their technology stacks, requiring employees to use more apps and tools than ever before.

Within this evolving landscape, workdays have become increasingly fragmented. Employees work not only with files but with a variety of content spread across numerous browser tabs, apps, and productivity tools. This has resulted in information overload. Workflows have become disjointed, and we’re wasting a lot of brain power because of the time spent on ‘work about work’. In fact, recent data shows individuals spend 8.8 hours a week just looking for and collecting files, and 69% of knowledge workers spend up to 60 minutes a day navigating between apps.

This time drain – especially for small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – is an expense companies cannot afford to bear. Instead, SMEs need an environment where their teams can keep work moving and find what they need in the smoothest and most efficient possible way.

That’s why, moving forward, SMEs need to change their perspective on technology. Less is more, and they need to embrace the right, unified tools to bring all these technologies together in one place. Combined with the right approach to AI, this will be the key to unlocking greater productivity by enabling employees to reclaim that one resource money can’t buy – time.

The AI opportunity 

The pandemic exposed some of the biggest challenges that knowledge workers face today. Businesses had to transition to remote work overnight, forcing us to face the reality that our screens were, and still are, in disarray.

Now, more than ever, we need the ability to unite all of the different types of content and tools we use at work into one well-organised place.

Fortunately, recent technological advancements have provided us with a powerful new tool: AI. AI gives us the opportunity to automate routine tasks, increase productivity, and expand our potential. In fact, according to a recent research study produced by Economist Impact and sponsored by Dropbox, 79% of those who use AI and automation tools in their work report increased productivity.

A new era of AI has arrived, and for many SMEs, embracing it may initially appear daunting. But, contrary to the perception of AI as a highly complicated technology, it’s already optimising daily tasks without requiring any technical expertise. Take ChatGPT, for instance: it demonstrates how effortlessly you can interact with advanced generative AI through a simple chat.

The power of personalisation

As AI becomes more seamlessly integrated into our daily routines, it promises to elevate our roles by taking care of all the admin.

But while chatbots like Bard or Chat GPT are excellent examples of accessible AI, they only scratch the surface of what’s possible. For instance, they lack knowledge about your company, daily tasks, or your unique work style. AI that’s truly tailored to your specific needs and your environment will be a game-changer in the workplace.

Most importantly, it’s not a vision from a distant future. Machine learning-powered tools can learn, evolve, and improve the more they’re used – and they are already easily available to individuals and businesses. One of the examples is Dropbox Dash, an AI-powered universal search tool we introduced just recently. It connects all of an individual’s tools, content and apps together in one single search bar. For small businesses, it means no more toggling between apps to share content, join a meeting or find a deck that a teammate shared. As AI adapts to individual work styles, it becomes even more effective at streamlining the workday and empowering employees to focus on value-driving activities. 

As information overload and disjointed workflows have become all too common, the need for a fresh approach is becoming clear. The cost of time lost to ‘work about work’ is a burden that all companies, and particularly SMEs, can ill afford. To navigate this new era successfully, SMEs must adopt a less-is-more mindset, focusing on unified tools that consolidate technologies into one accessible hub. By combining these tools with the personalised approach to AI, companies can empower their teams to regain the invaluable resource of time. As a result, they’ll streamline their operations and unlock the path to increased productivity. 

Andy Wilson
Andy Wilson

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