Small Business Owner working with Artificial Intelligence.

Leveraging artificial intelligence for your SMB

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard about the newest Artificial Intelligence viral sensation, ChatGPT. Created by a company called OpenAI, this software was designed to generate humanlike responses to a wide range of questions. Unlike humans, ChatGPT has all the world’s knowledge. It can write essays, poems, scripts, or even translate text for you. It’s still very early days, and while it may not be practical for small businesses to leverage this type of tool now, similar technology already exist that can be.

Increasingly, business owners are looking to automate their systems instead of doing things manually. It’s predicted that the global artificial intelligence market will reach $1,581.70 billion by 2030, a 38% gain from 2021 to 2030. Leveraging technology such as AI can significantly reduce human errors, save you time, and increase your profits in the long-term. Better yet, it’s more affordable and accessible than ever.

Artificial Intelligence Technology 101

In most cases, people associate AI with robots. And though that may be somewhat true, AI is so much more than that. It can be best described as the simulation of human intelligence in machines.

The main characteristic that AI exhibits is the ability to rationalize and to mimic human actions. It comes in many different shapes, sizes and casts a wide net. A common subset of artificial intelligence is machine learning, which refers to AI being able to learn and improve on its own.

If you have a business challenge to solve or an opportunity to seize, there’s most likely an AI solution for it. Let’s look at different use cases for AI and how your small business can benefit.

Ways Artificial Intelligence can Help

Historically speaking, price and practicality were major obstacles for SMBs wanting to use AI as part of their daily operations. Only recently have we seen a surge in AI as a service (AlaaS), making it widely available to small businesses. Here are some of the benefits observed across different industries such as retail, health care and food services:

Gain Time: We all need more time in our day, and this is especially true for small business owners. AI is an effective technology in helping you automate repetitive and mundane tasks that would otherwise take up a bunch of this precious resource.

Lower Long-Term Cost: Investing in AI may be costly in the short-term, but may significantly reduce cost in the long term.

Service-Offering: AI can help you gain a deeper understanding of how your consumers feel, perceive and think about your product or services.

Security: In today’s digital world, cybersecurity is on everyone’s mind. We’re all online, so we need to protect ourselves from cyber-attacks that could potentially harm your business. AI can scan your systems regularly to detect potential threats before they even arise.

How to Leverage AI for Your Small Business

There are many things to consider when going through your list of AI solutions, such as ease of use, scalability, adaptability and support. Align your goals with a trustable AlaaS that can help you along the way and adapt any demands to your needs. AI should be easy to implement and scale, so that it can grow at the same pace as your business. Here are some common examples of how AI can be integrated in your business operations:

Customer Service

Chatbots are becoming an integral tool for any customer-facing business by helping streamline internal and external processes. No longer are you required to be steps away from the phone or readily available on social media. Chatbots can provide your business with a 24/7 virtual assistant that can engage with clients, identify complex issues, collect data, and improve your sales process. They come in three main categories.

Rule-based chatbots:

a) Interacts with customers by offering preconceived responses that are predefined by the business.

b) It’s an affordable option that can be beneficial for lead generation and offer seamless transfer to a human agent.

AI Chatbots:

a) Comprehends and interprets dialogue with a customer to provide both dynamic and fluid responses.

b) Able to respond to complex queries and are easily scalable with their ability to retain past conversations.

Hybrid Chatbots:

a) Combines the best of best worlds. Has the ability to handle complex queries and multilayered demands.

b) More suitable for larger corporations and require constant surveillance.

To choose your ideal chatbot, define your objectives with these questions:

  • Is my primary purpose of building a chatbot for lead generation, promotion or customer service?
  • Am I looking for 24/7 support or only during specific hours/days?
  • Are my visitors new, returning or both?

It’s also usually a good idea to test various types before committing to a single chatbot. Finding the right one for your brand can be a challenge, but rest assured, there’s an option out there for every type of business.

Create Content

As small businesses realize the necessity of organic traffic and customer engagement, the need for unique content will only increase from here. That said, every business owner that’s active on social media, runs a blog or manages a website, knows just how time consuming it can be to create content. Thankfully, AI can help you with that.

AI has made huge strides in being able to generate short-form or long-form content that’s tailored to your brand tone and voice. This includes things like captions for social posts, product descriptions or blog titles. There’s also AI that can enhance your own writing by automatically editing your content or making suggestions.

That said, humans will always have a place in content creation, as AI can lack in areas of passion and empathy. Think of it as a collaboration, between you and a cyber friend, who can scan the Internet within seconds to optimize your content for SEO, generate fresh topics or keywords.

A popular option that may be useful for your business is Jasper. Known as one of the best AI platforms for content creators and marketing teams. It can generate ads, long-form content, ideas for your content and offers a plethora of templates.

Sales Forecasting & Data Mining

AI can be a powerful tool when it comes to forecasting anticipated revenue, allocating resources and saving money. As demand for your products or services fluctuate during different seasons, AI will deliver real-time information to help you predict your customers future needs and behavior. It can also analyze large amounts of historical data and predict future sales trends with better accuracy than many accountants could. This will allow your business to detect patterns or trends that otherwise would have been missed.

With accurate sales forecasting, your business is better-prepared for contingencies and can cater to customer demands now, and in the future. Overall, sales-focused AI will help you run your business more efficiently and foster data-driven decision-making.

Elements that we’ve touched above such as chatbots and predictive analytics are AI tools that can help you achieve a desired impact on sales forecasting. These tools gather data and information from your system with minimal effort to create highly accurate models.

Will Artificial Intelligence Ever Replace Humans?

Tools like ChatGPT show us just how transformative AI can be. Instead of being creators, humans will become editors. Why waste time writing long-form content when software can do it for you within seconds? That’s why learning how to properly use AI might be one of the best investments you could make in the following years. Will it ever fully replace humans? No one knows. But one thing is for certain, the future looks bright when it comes to small business owners being able to adopt AI technology in their daily operations. Learning AI might be an arduous journey to begin, but the payoff will be worth the effort in the end.