Is It Time to Use Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (AI), defined by Merriam-Webster as “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior,” is one of the fastest growing technologies being implemented by businesses today. More than thirty percent of all businesses intend to implement some form of AI in the next twelve months. Large enterprises have been using AI for several years, and now the use of AI by SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) is also on the rise. In a 2018 survey of CEOs of SMEs, about one-third expected artificial intelligence to have the greatest impact on their businesses in the coming year. There are many new companies that focus on AI tools and applications, making AI available to nontechnical users. Importantly, SMEs can use AI to level the playing field in a number of key areas.
Sales and Marketing
Marketing functions are one of the most prevalent uses of AI, since machine learning can be used to more effectively target customers and their preferences. Customized emails communicate with people who have visited a company’s website, or connect with prior customers who have not frequented a company for some time. AI can also analyze data collected by customer relationship management systems. These analytics help determine the effectiveness of phone and email campaigns, or distill feedback received from users and customers on a faster basis. AI is used in sales, from lead generation to post sale follow up, to identify weaknesses in the model and processes that are in place.
One of the best uses of AI has been to obtain comprehensive data on competitors in a faster and more efficient manner. Tools can review and analyze all of a company’s competitors’ websites and ads, delivering key words that can then be used in social media promotions or email campaigns.
Chatbots are popping up on almost every type of website, for goods or services, and are the most common use of AI by smaller enterprises. One reason is the increased availability of off-the-shelf products that can be implemented with limited customization. These communication tools are similar to having a 24/7 customer service employee on staff available to answer questions and retain potential new customers. Surveys have found that people may even prefer interacting with a chatbot rather than waiting in line for a live person to become available.
Repetitive and Mundane Tasks
SMEs may be the best candidates for this type of artificial intelligence. The use of AI to carry out the most tedious activities within an organization can be a great leveler for companies with limited resources. AI tools can get through large amounts of data such as employment applications for staffing companies, or loan applications for regional banks. An AI tool that is used by the smallest of businesses, including sole proprietors, is the digital personal assistant. These tools mirror the services of an administrator and can eliminate the back and forth involved in the simple but often time consuming task of scheduling meetings. This is a great asset to organizations with little administrative support.
Smaller enterprises can rely on programs to help them review applicants, screen candidates, and even help select candidates by having them respond to pre-interview questions, which can be analyzed. AI can be used for employee communications that require repetitive and accurate messaging on topics such as medical benefits, sick leaves, and payroll policies.
AI has been in the manufacturing space for many years in the form of robots and other automated devices on the production floor. New tools are being used in other areas such as inventory management, using buying patterns to predict the purchase and stocking of goods. AI can also predict weather, purchase orders, equipment breakdown, and maintenance needs, resulting in greater productivity.
Almost any aspect of a business that relies on data and repetitive behavior can benefit from the use of artificial intelligence. The proliferation of startups and existing technology companies that are developing applications will result in democratization and increase the availability of AI for all enterprises.
Business Insights is hosted by the Law Firm of KPPB Law (www.kppblaw.com).
Sonjui L. Kumar is a founding partner of KPPB Law, practicing in the area of corporate law and governance.
Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice.
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