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Artificial Intelligence in Business: How Small and Medium Businesses Can Get in the Game

artificial intelligence for your business text over AI graphic

From chatbots to virtual assistants, the use of artificial intelligence in business seems to be everywhere. But these are just the more visible aspects of artificial intelligence. Businesses of today use artificial intelligence in a variety of ways so that they can get ahead of the competition. And while big businesses are typically the ones using artificial intelligence the most, smaller-size businesses need to pay attention.  According to some experts, investing in the use of artificial intelligence is not only beneficial, it’s crucial. Those small and medium companies that fail to consider the use of artificial intelligence in their business will be left behind.

Fortunately, there is good news. Small and medium businesses can use artificial intelligence in their business platforms easier than many might think. Increasingly, a number of companies are helping businesses integrate artificial intelligence in a variety of ways. The key is to know how to approach the use of artificial intelligence in your business and the AI solution needed. Reshaping your business with artificial intelligence doesn’t have to be complex, but going about it the right way is essential. The companies that effectively use artificial intelligence will be the business leaders of tomorrow regardless of their size.

Artificial Intelligence in Business Is More Common Than You Think

When thinking of artificial intelligence in business, most think of chatbots, virtual assistants, and data mining for consumer trends. Indeed, these are all examples of the use of artificial intelligence in business. But artificial intelligence reflects much more than this. We see notable advances in machine learning, natural language processing, and predictive analytics. All types of businesses use these facets of artificial intelligence in a number of ways. What is interesting is that many times the use of artificial intelligence in a business is not obvious to the consumer or to others. You might not think your competition is using artificial intelligence in their business platforms when, in fact, they are.

According to a Vanson Bourne study in late 2017, around 80% of all enterprises are using some form of artificial intelligence in their business. In addition, about a third plan to expend artificial intelligence in their business platforms over the next 3 years. And 62% expect to hire a chief artificial intelligence officer in the future. These figures highlight that the competitive landscape is changing. Failing to use of artificial intelligence in all types of businesses will soon be the exception and not the norm.

At the end of the day, artificial intelligence is simply math and code. All firms can easily implement artificial intelligence in business areas by simply working with experts in the field. Likewise, artificial intelligence can be readily incorporated into a business through software or through cloud-based systems. The challenging part is collecting data, organizing data, and testing algorithms to be sure they provide insights. This is why it is important to know precisely how artificial intelligence can help you in your business.

How Is Artificial Intelligence Being Used in Business?

A better question might be, “Where is artificial intelligence not being used in business?” The use of artificial intelligence in product development is the most common use of artificial intelligence in business today. Half of the firms using artificial intelligence in their business platforms do so to enhance product value for their customers. Businesses typically use natural language processing and machine learning to gather customer feedback data and buying trends. Other common uses of artificial intelligence involve customer relations management. These solutions commonly use chatbots and virtual assistants but may also involve other AI strategies. Businesses small and large can improve their market position with the use of these AI tools.

graph showing how artificial intelligence in business can drive revenue, Using AI in Small Business
Business AI Capabilities That Drive Revenue

The use of artificial intelligence in business logistics is also quite common. UPS has used machine learning for route optimization for years. Likewise, Amazon has been using AI robots in organizing and retrieving packages and supplies. But more cutting-edge uses of artificial intelligence in business today involves its application to sales, marketing, and employee engagement. In fact, Mark Cuban has invested heavily in AI firms because of the benefits related to artificial intelligence in business sales. Cuban calls AI a “cold-call killer” because of its ability to combine corporate information with personal networks and web-based data.

Companies use artificial intelligence to monitor various pieces of equipment and to enhance operations. With the Internet-of-Things (IOT), equipment and materials can provide data related to wear-and-tear, maintenance needs, performance, and other variables. AI systems in a business setting can suggest proactive strategies to reduce equipment downtime and promote higher performance. AI systems can thus enhance multiple areas in business function using data from an array of sources.

How Can Artificial Intelligence Help Your Business?

The use of artificial intelligence in business offers several benefits. However, we can summarize the benefits of artificial intelligence as four major advantages for any-size business.

  • Better Decision-Making – Artificial intelligence provides better access and organization of information in businesses allowing more effective and efficient decision-making capacities. Being able to make informed decisions in a timely manner offers notable advantages among competitors.
  • Reduced Costs and Expenses – All firms have some degree of inefficiency in operations and resource use. The use of artificial intelligence in business to enhance logistics and systems management streamlines these areas. As a result, artificial intelligence can effectively lower costs and allow greater profitability.
  • Increased Revenue Generation – Artificial intelligence can also boost profits by advancing revenues. The use of artificial intelligence in sales and marketing areas can drive higher revenues. Likewise, the use of AI solutions in product development and customer relations management can do the same.
  • Stronger Value Creation – By using artificial intelligence in product development areas, your business can better design products and services to meet customer needs. The use of AI in marketing areas can also identify consumer needs. These uses of artificial intelligence will promote more valued goods in your business giving you a competitive advantage.

Companies Offering AI Solutions in Business

From large to small, several companies provide AI solutions to help you in reshaping your business with AI platforms. As one of the world’s largest software vendors, SAP offers advanced AI solutions. HANA, SAP’s premier AI  system, enhance sales, customer relations, data processing, and resource use in businesses. Major companies such as Walmart use HANA to improve performance in multiple areas. General Electric also offers artificial intelligence systems for businesses. GE’s Predix AI solution monitors and synthesizes data using machine learning from IOT equipment. The AI system can be used to improve maintenance and performance activities in businesses.

Perhaps your business does not need such a large AI platform. Domo, another business software company, offers affordable cloud-based AI systems. Domo provides an informational dashboard using artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics for better decision-making. Companies collect ustomer data from over 400 third-party apps and combined with business information to create Domo’s dashboard. Avanade, a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, also provides an AI platform using Cortana Intelligence Suite. This AI system is touted to boost revenues in some business by 33%.

Many other smaller companies also provide AI services to businesses.  Gong, Chorus, and Jog provide artificial intelligence solutions to help train and coach sales staff in businesses. Tangowork and Rocketbot can provide internal chatbots to enhance employee engagement through AI business applications. Lastly, Keatext and MonkeyLearn offer AI systems that collect and categorize business customer feedback. The number of these smaller AI companies and their services are growing by leaps and bounds.

Recommendations for Using AI in Small Business

In pursuing AI solution in your business, the process will be very individualized based on specific needs. However, the following provides a “best practices” approach when considering which AI solutions are best for your business.

  • Get Informed – Know what AI business solutions exist for your company. Attend workshops, courses, and training seminars and stay up-to-date on the latest industry news. Some options for educational courses include Udacity, edX, and online lectures from Stanford University.
  • Apply Knowledge to Your Business – Once AI systems are better understood, align possible AI solutions with your business needs. The best approach in using artificial intelligence in small business is to target specific areas for optimal effect.
  • Know Your Limits – Your business may be able to benefit from a certain artificial solution. However, your business may not be ready for it. Knowing your business’s capabilities and capacities is important when considering AI solutions. Because resources are limited, knowing which AI solution best fits your company is important.
  • Start with Small AI Solutions – Introduce AI solutions gradually in your business. By starting with small projects, your company will manage the change more effectively. This will create a strong foundation for expanding AI systems in your business later.
  • Commit to Investing in AI – The writing is on the wall. The use of using AI in small business is the way of the future. For your business to compete, you will need to commit to investing in AI solutions at some point. Sooner may very well be better than later.


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