As a business owner, you’ve probably wondered how you can get in on the action. Even if you’re not running a tech-focused company, there are several ways that you can take advantage of cutting-edge AI. You might not have a multi-million dollar R&D division to develop your own AI initiatives, but there are plenty of opportunities to make use of what’s already out there.
Some of the major players in AI make their powerful tools available for a price. Any company willing to pay up can utilize IBM’s Watson, for example, and sectors like health care have already seen transformative benefits. Buying into these technologies gives your company the benefit of well-honed expertise without the work of building your own software. For a variety of tasks and services, entry-level implementations that are also widely available may just be what you need to take your business to the next level.
One of business AI’s most touted abilities is its analytical strength. Machine learning software is capable of performing lighting-quick assessments of how well you’re serving your customers and of generating next-step suggestions more quickly than any high-priced consultant. You and your business can use these tools to streamline a number of processes and uncover insights that may not have even been on your radar.
While Watson is the gold standard of AI tech, it can be prohibitively expensive for growing businesses. Salesforce recently made its Einstein Analytics AI platform available for data analysis tasks at a more affordable price point than the IBM equivalent. As AI grows in use, these services are likely to become the primary path for businesses interested in taking advantage of machine learning technology. By utilizing Einstein and other such products, your business can save time and energy while it grows.
The simplest AI implementation for your business is also the most customer-facing. Thousands of companies — from Starbucks to the Wall Street Journal — already utilize smart chatbots capable of dealing with user inquiries and concerns. These bots, while not perfect replicas of human customer service agents, are getting incredibly close in certain areas. They can recall information from previous conversations, offer detailed knowledge of your processes, and assist users at a volume unachievable through other means, like offshore call centers. For businesses serving a growing number of consumers, this type of AI has become nearly indispensable.
For small businesses looking to grow, quality marketing can be the most valuable tool there is, and AI can help you in that regard as well. High-powered marketing solutions through platforms such as Acquisio and Bookmark apply artificial intelligence to construct targeted consumer messaging. AI can also quickly deliver audience behavior and demographic information, and businesses that don’t adopt it risk falling behind.
Google has gotten in on the action with its Attribution service that provides a customer’s-eye-view of the entire process. Integrated with the company’s existing marketing footprint (Analytics, AdWords, DoubleClick), this new platform can serve as a one-stop shop for growing businesses. For those on a tight budget, this free tool is worth a look as you learn more about the market you’re serving.
AI tools can even help entrepreneurs manage time-consuming administrative tasks. Advanced software utilizing robotic process automation (RPA) can access multiple systems (think record keeping and banking tools) and serve as the go-between when making transactions, transferring data, and even interpreting arcane legal documents.
At a lower price point than most AI functions, RPA can bring machine intelligence to nearly every business and help save time and energy for more important tasks. Surveys have found that small business owners spend up to a third of their entire year solving administrative issues, so to say this can improve efficiency may be a massive understatement.
Entrepreneurship can be an exciting and rewarding challenge, but without the right tools it can end up being an exercise in wastefulness. For growing businesses that are counting their pennies, AI can transform inefficient processes, enhance customer service, and present new opportunities for growth.
Bennat Berger is the cofounder and principal of Novel Property Ventures in New York City.