Archive for April, 2018

Should we be ready to embrace Artificial Intelligence?

Historically SME’s tend to hold back in the face of new technology.  But with Artificial Intelligence the rules are different and holding back can be dangerous. ‘Think big, start small’.

What do we mean by Artificial Intelligence for small businesses, was the topic discussed by members of the Business Exposure Group at a recent meeting.

The history of technology is; Mechanics, Electronics, Information Technology and now Artificial Intelligence.

With Artificial Intelligence we can

  • Evaluate customers and understand how much they are interested in buying from us before we talk to them.
  • Fix problems for customers before problems even become obvious.
  • Have the understanding to show customers more of what they want and be right about it more often.

However a member of the Group said ‘Artificial Intelligence is the next shiny thing, but until you can show me how it’s really going to work day to day in my business – I’m out’!

Artificial Intelligence has the potential for a low cost accessible way to get insights from data faster, enabling businesses to make better decisions.  It is there to support the workforce, not replace it.  Tasks that require information from multiple sources to make timely decisions are great candidates for experimenting with Artificial Intelligence.

But, how can Artificial Intelligence help your small business?

with Automation – it can prepare invoices / update customer records / send targeted promotions

with Customer Communications – chat bots, so that the frequently asked questions can be answered

with Staff Solutions – Artificial Intelligence personal assistants can arrange meetings / stay on top of deadlines / arrange business travel

with Email Efficiencies – Google smart reply scans the contents of your emails and suggests suitable replies

Many businesses have started using Chatbot, but many people still prefer to speak to a living customer service rep rather than a Chatbot.  But the advantage of a Chatbot is that you don’t have to hang on for ages waiting for a call to be taken.  Artificial Intelligence driven Chatbots are perfect for answering the most common questions that companies get asked time and time again leaving your staff to focus on the more pressing individual cases.

Artificial Intelligence gives you competitor advantage and it is more appropriate for back office functions.  60% of SME’s in the group felt that they were not yet ready to adopt Artificial Intelligence.  They felt it was too complicated for what was needed.  Yet for some small businesses, with limited time and resources, the ability to work smarter and automate basic tasks could be a life saver.  So, spending hours sorting through spreadsheets, hunting down leads or tweaking marketing campaigns manually could now be a thing of the past.

SME’s with up to 20 employees cite ‘gaining better insights from their data’ as a top technology challenge, yet only 30% use analytic solutions.  Business apps not only automate time consuming repeatable tasks, but also help detect problems and predict outcomes.  Many members of the Business Exposure Group are already using some of these apps.

  • Zero Accounting – Artificial Intelligence for accounting – Allows you to get insights into longer term decisions not just book keeping.
  • Quick Books – Which clients owe me money, it then tells the system to send reminders to clients to pay overdue invoices.
  • Translation – Microsoft have developed a real time translation system in Skype to help bridge the language barrier during web conferences.
  • Crayon – is a market intelligence platform that uses machine learning to scan millions of data sources, everything from web pages to customer reviews to tweets and it tells you everything it finds. did a competitor change how they are advertising a product / did they make an important change to their website.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning solutions offer small businesses the means to offload mundane tasks to machines so that people can focus on more creative, value added activities to help their companies grow.

What is clear is that Artificial Intelligence is the future and any contemporary business must start to embrace the opportunities created by this next level of technology, because very shortly our competitors will, and business will get even tougher.

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