Artificial Intelligence

AI and Machine Learning for small businesses: Are they worth the investment?

AI and machine learning continue to open new opportunities in the business world, but many small businesses don’t think they can benefit from such technologies.

Despite the increasing availability and capability of machine-based intelligence, the price often seems to leave it in the hands of large corporations. However, small firms increasingly have a chance to cash in.

Are AI and machine learning worthwhile investments for your business? The following information can help you decide.

Busting myths

Recent studies show that many small businesses have at least partially embraced intelligent automation. This type of data suggests that you could find yourself at a competitive disadvantage if you delay your investment.

How automation can help

Particularly, these advanced technologies offer some particular advantages to you and your firm. For example, they can help you improve the balance between your work and personal life. Also, the efficiency gains allow your business to sustain growth while containing the cost of human resources.

So, the ability to increase productivity and boost efficiency should be enough for you to consider automation. The insights gained from AI and machine learning may even help you innovate. From better internal processes to better products, automation can help you maintain your competitive edge.

Small business owners themselves seem optimistic about AI and machine learning. Research suggests that more than half say they believe that the technologies will boost job satisfaction and improve the management of their firm.

Future opportunities

As an entrepreneur, you will probably find new ways to use automation technology to grow their business. Despite the presumed negative impact AI will have on the job market, almost one-quarter of the companies surveyed say that they think automation will increase the size of their labor force.

Such growth may result from the support AI gives you as a business owner and manager. For starters, the technology supports improved decision making. It also can result in higher rates of customer service and retention.

General Benefits

AI and machine learning technologies offer benefits that will appeal to you.

– Modeling and forecasting. AI can replace manual analyses and dramatically expand the data processing capabilities of your firm.
– Customer service. These advanced technologies already power numerous commercially viable chatbots. These can help your firm expedite customer service and increase the number of customers your existing team can serve.
– Third-party developers. You might discover that developing AI original applications for your firm can require large investments of time and capital. Fortunately, developers exist who operate platforms that help you get the tools you need, without forcing you and your team to become rocket scientists. They work with you to design the automation that you need for your organization.
– Self-service automation. Some vendors, like Amazon, provide services that empower you to use their technology to analyze your own data. Such services come complete with data visualization capabilities and wizards that make accessing intelligent automation easy and fun.
– Marketing. Pinterest is an example of one website that uses AI to find and prioritize the most interesting content on their site. This technology can do the same thing for your firm. For example, AI and machine learning can sort through tons of user-generated content. This helps you keep your customers engaged while choosing only the most valuable content to feature on your website and social media.
– E-Commerce. AI can turbocharge the features of your e-commerce site, helping customers to easily find the products that they want and need to buy. Also, machine learning can adapt to customer behavior and intelligently recommend additional products and up-sells.
– Reputation management. Automation can analyze your internal data streams as well as external data sources to monitor public opinion of your brand. When it identifies negative sentiment, you have a chance to tweak your brand messaging and advertising to compensate. AI and machine learning can even detect when your products are missing key features.

Unlimited potential. Intelligent automation can find a place in practically every industry, including yours. This potential is without regard to the markets you serve or whether your customers are businesses or consumers. Despite the maturity of the AI and machine learning industry, most of its potential remains untapped.

What’s the downside?

Since these technologies learn by themselves, their algorithms are always changing. This means you must learn to trust technology more now than ever before. Additionally, you will probably discover that this type of technology is less predictable than traditional algorithm-based analyses.
In conclusion, artificial intelligence and machine learning have become powerful tools for business. Although large corporations have pioneered their use, a surprising number of small businesses are already using them to increase their competitiveness through innovation, efficiency and productivity.

Your business is unique. Are these technologies are worth the investment? In many settings they are, but the final decision is up to you.

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