By Logan Childress

 

Unless you are living off the grid, you likely use, or at least encounter, artificial intelligence (“AI”) daily, whether you realize it or not.[1] A 2017 global survey revealed that only “34 percent of respondents thought they had directly experienced AI; however, when asked about the technologies in their lives, the survey found 84 percent actually use at least one AI-powered service or device – such as virtual home assistants, intelligent chatbots, or predictive product suggestions.”[2] And, like our personal lives, AI is dramatically impacting how businesses of all sizes operate.[3]

 

Traditionally, AI is thought to be reserved for large, wealthy corporations.[4] But, thanks to its rapid innovation, AI is available to nearly everyone and every business.[5] At this point, AI is developed for nearly every task and offers benefits including: Reduced time spent on tasks, lower costs, increasing results, improving flexibility and responsiveness, and reducing risk.[6]

 

What does this all mean for small business owners? How can AI help make a small business more efficient? Microsoft offers this helpful example:

 

Imagine you own a florist shop, which also has a website [paired with AI]. If a customer searches your site for “red flowers,” you [can] teach your website how to respond. You can train it to show the customer roses, tulips, and Gerbera daisies. What if it’s the holidays? You could tell it in November or December to also show your customers Poinsettias, Christmas cacti, and Christmas Lilies. You could also teach it to show the customer that you make custom Christmas wreaths.[7]

 

In this way, AI allows small businesses to become more efficient by learning how to lead customers to what they want, making interactions and transactions simpler. But, all of these benefits are not just confined to florists, any small business owner can implement AI to help with:

 

  1. Email marketing. As mentioned above, there is AI for nearly every task. And, every small business owner knows it is difficult to stay on top of sending emails to customers. Thankfully, AI can solve that issue by collecting data.[8] This data allows AI to (a) optimize send times to maximize engagement, (b) learn buying behaviors to send relevant products and services to customers, (c) increase personalization, (d) optimize the email subject line, and (e) create engaging content.[9]
  2. Cybersecurity. Even low tech-businesses could be at risk of digital threats.[10] AI powered cybersecurity actively looks for unusual activity instead of waiting until after a loss to deal with the threat.[11] This feature helps save small businesses from the heartache of a security breach.
  3. Engaging with customers. AI can further help customers by: (1) giving them help after hours and provide help 24/7, (2) talking to them, and (3) answering common questions.[12] This kind of AI is normally called a “chatbot.”[13]

 

Ultimately, AI is here to stay.[14] The good news is that it is accessible to any business and will give small businesses the ability to operate and compete more efficiently.[15] You know the saying… If you can’t beat them, join them!

 

[1] Nicole Walters, How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Small Businesses, Bplans (July 24, 2018), https://articles.bplans.com/how-artificial-intelligence-can-help-small-businesses/.

[2] Press Release, Pegasystems Inc., New Research Reveals Deep Confusion About Artificial Intelligence: Global Consumer Study Shows Hesitancy to Use AI Technology Even Though Most Unwittingly Already Are (Apr. 4, 2017), https://www.pega.com/about/news/press-releases/new-research-reveals-deep-confusion-about-artificial-intelligence.

[3] Nicole Walters, How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Small Businesses, Bplans (July 24, 2018), https://articles.bplans.com/how-artificial-intelligence-can-help-small-businesses/.

[4] See id.

[5] See Prajwal Paudyal, Cheaper AI, Electricity, and the New Data Scientist, towards data science (May 8, 2019), https://towardsdatascience.com/electricity-cheap-ai-and-the-role-of-the-new-data-scientist-e1e23d1e6910.

[6] Chad Otar, Four Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Help Your Small Business, Forbes (Apr. 9, 2019, 8:00 AM), https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2019/04/09/four-ways-artificial-intelligence-can-help-your-small-business/#50204dd44a1a.

[7] Lisa Steinmann, How to Use AI for Small Business, Microsoft (Oct. 23, 2019), https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/business-insights-ideas/resources/how-ai-help-small-business.

[8] See Josh Biggs, Ways Big Data And AI Are Changing Email Marketing, Meldium (Mar. 12, 2019), https://www.meldium.com/ways-big-data-and-ai-are-changing-email-marketing/.

[9] Josh Biggs, Ways Big Data And AI Are Changing Email Marketing, Meldium (Mar. 12, 2019), https://www.meldium.com/ways-big-data-and-ai-are-changing-email-marketing/.

[10] Lisa Steinmann, How to Use AI for Small Business, Microsoft (Oct. 23, 2019), https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/business-insights-ideas/resources/how-ai-help-small-business.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Adrienne Morgan, What is a Chatbot?, discover.bot (Sept. 29, 2020), https://discover.bot/bot-talk/what-is-a-chatbot/.

[14] Nikolas Kairnios, AI Is Here to Stay – Here’s Why, Towards AI (May 22, 2020), https://towards.ai/ai-is-here-to-stay-heres-why/.

[15] Nicole Walters, How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Small Businesses, Bplans (July 24, 2018), https://articles.bplans.com/how-artificial-intelligence-can-help-small-businesses/.

Image Source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/b153541b-7f04-4631-9e31-211c4fd933b2

css.php