Artificial intelligence has come leaps and bounds from a far-away pipe dream to a staple in millions of small-to-medium businesses across the globe, with large-scale international companies not going a day without it. As small business owners, AI may still seem like that distant possibility – but now, more than ever – it’s affordable, accessible, and necessary for small businesses to inject into their operations.
In today’s market, you don’t need a sufficient knowledge on artificial intelligence to realize the savings and growth potential of using AI for your business. And the worst mistake? Believing that AI is no more than just a few chatbots installed on a company’s website, or a few auto-generated images to upload to your Facebook page. AI is skyrocketing business growth, and it’s best not to get left behind.
So how are the small businesses of today leveraging AI in clever, intuitive ways? Let’s dive in.
1. Identify gaps in the market for new products (Dialog)
Small Marketing firm Dialog, founded by Mark Thompson, are using AI data collection tools from Tensor Flow (an AI software library) to gather data on hot products in their clients’s markets and collecting all of the conversations across the internet taking place about those products. This helps Dialog identify opportunities for their clients to innovate on their product lines, using Tensor Flow’s AI data harvesting tool to beat out the competition.
The tools are free, so Mark had no problem introducing this solution to his team and serving his clients with it.
Brands & companies in the coming decade will be able to seamlessly develop and launch products that truly resonate with their audience, because mass data collection takes the guesswork away from ‘what the customer wants’. Dialog are using these tools to serve their own marketing clients but consider what help this would be to large-scale commerce brands like Nike or Gucci.
2. Get help writing fantastic content (WPBeginner)
Syed Balkhi, founder of small online education business WPBeginner, has begun exploring artificial intelligence as a means of churning out high-quality, high-value content for his company website without the hassle of hiring external writers, editors and copywriters.
AI-generated copy has hardly reached terminal velocity yet: for most solutions available in this space, the tools can often result in hilariously poor and robotic outcomes, rendering the content near useless. But Syed’s team don’t use it for raw, unedited and perfect copy.
‘While it’s not at a stage where you can just plug in keywords and get a fully useful article, it has reached a point where it can assist your current writing efforts in powerful ways’ he told FastCompany in July. If your business lives & breathes online content in written form, it’s time to consider AI-generated copywriting software – just be aware of the current quality of the work (which is constantly improving!)
3. Take strain away from your team with Customer Support AI (OneIMS)
If your small business thrives on powerful and meaningful customer support, you should explore the possibility of implementing customer support AI into your operation. Particularly if you’re dealing with a large sum of clients or a product that requires a great deal of hand-holding (advertising campaigns, intricate software, marketing) it’s essential you make efforts to alleviate the stress on your support team, which may be just one person or a handful.
The mindset-shift small businesses need to make regarding their support is that not all customer touches, Q&A’s or queries need to be answered by a human. OneIMS, led by Solomon Thimothy, uses AI-generated responses to customer support questions to reduce the workload of their teams, so they can focus on the product, the queries that do require a human touch, and growth.
Larger Businesses leveraging AI to Stomp Out Competition
This platform is a minefield for misinformation, scaremongering falsities and fake news. The team at Facebook know this well, and use artificial intelligence in the form of DeepText, a text understanding engine, to understand and interpret the content and emotional sentiment of the millions of status updates and posts that Facebook users submit every day.
Further and perhaps more creepily, DeepFace allows the team to automatically identify you in a photo that is shared on their platform. The company also uses artificial intelligence to automatically catch and remove images that are posted on its site of an explicit or vengeful nature.
Chinese company Alibaba is the world’s largest e-commerce platform that sells more than Amazon and eBay combined. Artificial intelligence is crucial to the company’s daily operations, and uses similar technology as Dialog to predict what products customers want now, and will want in the near future.
With natural language processing, the company automatically generates product descriptions for the site, so they don’t have to worry about hiring writers. On a more futuristic, worldwide scale – Alibaba uses artificial intelligence in its City Brain project to create ‘smart cities’. The smart cities use AI algorithms to help reduce traffic jams by monitoring every vehicle in the city. Further than that, Alibaba is even helping farmers monitor their crops to improve yield, cut costs, and provide their own customers with better produce.
Artificial intelligence supports businesses, both small and large, by helping reduce manual work and enhancing productivity, on top of keeping labor costs down and production up.
Ultimately, it is becoming increasingly necessary for small businesses to, at the very least, consider researching how AI can help them grow their business. From a small firm like Dialog to a commerce giant like Alibaba, the companies that are staying ahead of the curve are leveraging this fascinating new tech for rocket-ship growth.