Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash
“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” This iconic quote from the 1968 classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey is what many people think of when the term Artificial Intelligence is broached. AI has been portrayed in science fiction as something to be wary of and to keep tabs on. AI has a long way to go before we see computers like HAL, but the technology, while in its infancy and requiring special personnel to use it, is cropping up in the business world, and not just in tech giants like Apple or Google.
The New “Magic Bullet”
There is a tremendous amount of hype over AI, and small business owners who don’t truly understand the technology are feeling the pressure to implement AI whether or not they actually need it. There are applications available for the small business owner that can help grow the business without requiring massive investments in capital or personnel.
Having said this, there are AI applications currently available that can help a small business streamline its processes and grow. Here are five areas where AI can help:
1. Sales and Marketing
AI also gives your marketing a boost, by analyzing your sales data. The software can help you determine best-selling items, low-performing items, and which customers to target for increasing sales.
2. Customer Communications
You’ve probably had an experience with a chatbot without realizing it – it’s the chat box that pops up when you open a website’s landing page. It’s an easy way to interface with your user community, and usually faster for the customer than waiting in a long hold line on the phone.
A chatbot is a customer service agent available 24/7, and it works even when you and your team sleep. Chatbots are also cost-savers:
“With the more routine customer communications, chatbots can effectively handle communication with 100 potential customers in the time it takes your staff to communicate with 10, which makes them non-negligible when it comes to cost-saving.” Says Michael Dadashi, CEO of
AI Chatbots can also free your HR employees from answering the same questions over and over again. Put up a chatbot on the HR webpage, and employees can get basic questions answered without speaking to a human – routine questions on benefits, holidays, time off, and company policies are all important, but unless the question goes into specifics, a chatbot can answer them 24/7, letting your HR employees deal with real people issues.
4. Data Gathering
“These types of AI competitive intelligence tools let you gather much more detailed information faster, allowing you to respond faster and more efficiently to changes in your industry that could affect your business.”
AI is an emerging factor in the business world. It is not the AI of science fiction; it will be quite a while before AI develops to the point of cyborgs, and AI computers like Hal or Proteus. Rather, AI for the business world is akin to PCs in their infancy – the potential is off the charts, but it will take a while for it to be realized. There are ways to utilize AI in the small business world, but a small business owner needs to determine if AI can truly help the business, and wait to use it until it’s a better value. AI is coming – will your business be ready?