How small business can afford Artificial Intelligence

Still not sure if artificial intelligence (AI) is right or relevant to your business? Well, now’s the best time to firmly adopt the mindset that it is here to improve your business.

What is AI anyway?

AI can be used in a variety of industries and in many different ways, including creating automatic replies based on past emails exchanged, figuring out what age group your user is when they visit your website, customising offers and images displayed and much more. AI technology is becoming vital for small business.

What type of AI solutions are small businesses using?

Take Commonwealth bank’s Daily IQ solutions for example. The Big Data analytics technology helped Eden Gardens, a plant nursery in Sydney, learn which postcodes the majority of its customer base was from, thus helping it target catalogue deliveries and optimise product offerings.

Digital assistants like x.ai can help you schedule meetings, Virtual Assistant for Facebook can answer questions posted and you could even build chatbot software to engage with customers on your website, like specialist pharmacy recruitment firm LocumCo.

You could even have a personal business mentor in your pocket with apps such as BRiN – an artificially intelligent business advisor which can answer questions like “which CRM should I implement?” or provide insights on your current website traffic or leads.

Which AI technology is right for me?

Rather than going all out and commissioning a robot to be your salesperson, account manager or technical support staff, consider the following AI solutions that may work well for your business:

  • Digital Assistants (DA) such as Domino’s DRU burst onto the scene as a prominent example and version of an artificially intelligent salesperson. They make your web-based business more efficient and help you respond to customers based around the world in different time zones.
  • Chatbots: – it is not just in the sales space that AI technologies can help, customer service and technical support enquiries can be delegated to these intelligent bundles of logic that can answer queries without the need of a human. CEO of Cloud Commerce Computing, Michael Zammuto advises “If your website deals with a lot of inquiries or you take a lot of customer telephone calls, then add a chatbot and start researching products that utilise voice recognition. Chatbots have reduced support costs by as much as 30 per cent.”
  • Natural Language Generation (NLG): Zammuto also sings the praises of NLG systems that can analyse data and intelligently produce reports or recommendations as well as write blog posts – particularly useful for SMEs that need and use content to engage and convert. Gartner predicts that, “by the end of 2018, 20 per cent of all business content will be authored by machines”.

How do I decide?

While it is true that some AI solutions can be easily put into the “unfeasibly expensive” basket, there are options for small businesses to implement AI without it burning a hole in the pocket.

Take stock of your internal capability, advises Luke Tang, General Manager of TechCode’s Global AI+ Accelerator Program. Understanding your business’s technical capability and ability to learn or engage with external contractors to develop your AI solution, can take time and contribute to delays, he says.

Therefore, it is important to identify the problems you want AI to solve. Once this has been established, then begin exploring other ideas. Tang advises it is critical that you set goals for the specific use of AI to solve a problem(s) to then demonstrate its true value.

Keep AI in your sights

Don’t think that deciding on one form of AI solution for your business will mean you will be done and dusted. Learning about the up and coming Big Data platforms, advances in machine learning and the trend toward specialist AI solutions for your business and industry, are all important reasons to stay in touch with AI.

Dale Beaumont, Founder and CEO, BRiN

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