This post was contributed and may contain affiliate links. There are loads of business terms out there which can be confusing and hard to understand, especially for the newcomer. Some business blogs and help websites can leave the savviest of women business owners wondering which direction to go. And, this classic case has had an effect on two very prominent areas of modern business; integration and automation. These very different areas are often mixed up and misused. So, to make things more clear, I’m going through both of these time-saving techniques. Now, you just have to decide what’s best for your business.
Business integration is a strategy whose goal is to synchronize information technology (IT) and business cultures and objectives and align technology with business strategy and goals. Business integration is a reflection of how IT is being absorbed as a function of business, as quoted from Tech Target.
This is the easier of the two to put into place. Usually, integration is handled by software solutions. So, you don’t have to invest much for hardware to get it running. The basic concept is to consolidate as many jobs as possible into one workflow. This enables a business to have their HR handled by the same system that controls their factory inventory and quality control. So, what is enterprise resource planning? And, where does it fit into a business? ERP is one of the leading integration methods out there. With companies offering systems which handle pretty much the whole of your business without the need for more than a single employee. This sort of service can make work much easier for a company.
Automation is the use of largely automatic equipment in a system of manufacturing or other production processes.
Automation is a field with similar results to integration. But, the method used to get there is much different. Instead of moving services into one platform to make them easier to handle; automation takes tasks out of human hands completely. Using software and physical robots, companies use automation to reduce their employees to zero. There are factories out there which are completely controlled by robots and computers. These sorts of places only have to have employees to solve problems as they come up. But, otherwise, business runs itself.
Which Is Better?
It’s very difficult to determine which of these methods is better than the other. Of course, it depends on your business and whether it works for your culture and budget. For example, most smaller companies simply wouldn’t have the resources for full-scale automation. In this case, integration may be a better path. That said, you could find that your company benefits equally from both. Or, that it would be good to have both methods in place. Seeking the help of a business consultant with a technical background is a smart way to get some help here.
Hopefully, this business snapshot gives you a good idea of what needs to be done to make your business run a little smoother. And, more importantly, it should help you to understand the difference between these two methods.