Artificial Intelligence: How To Use AI to Further Your Small Business
Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming the business landscape, introducing new possibilities for both consumer interactions and internal operations. The McKinsey Global Survey “The economic potential of generative AI: The next productivity frontier” found that AI can help businesses improve their productivity by up to 40%. The same research estimated that utilizing artificial intelligence in customer care operations could increase productivity at a value ranging from 30% to 45% of current function costs. But customer service isn’t the only business branch in which AI is useful. In this article, we will explain what artificial intelligence is and discuss how businesses can benefit from adopting AI into their day-to-day operations. We’ll also explore a few of the best AI tools for small businesses. Keep reading for all the details.
What Is AI?
Artificial intelligence refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines programmed to think and learn like humans. These machines, often powered by complex algorithms and data, can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as problem-solving, speech recognition, and decision-making.
AI can be categorized into two main types: narrow AI and general AI. The former is designed for a specific task (like chatbots that answer customers’ frequently asked questions), while the latter (which is mostly theoretical at present) would possess the ability to understand, learn, and apply knowledge across various domains. There’s also generative AI, a type of narrow AI used to perform creative tasks, usually in the art and design spaces. This type of AI can be used to write and design ads, create marketing strategies, or determine how best to add a personalized touch to business communications.
How Does AI Work?
AI systems operate on the principle of machine learning, which is an application of AI where algorithms gather data, identify patterns, and use this information to improve their performance over time. Machine learning relies heavily on data, and the quality and quantity of data input play a crucial role in the effectiveness of AI systems. By identifying patterns and trends in the data, AI can make predictions or decisions about future events. This is achieved through a variety of techniques, including neural networks, natural language processing, and computer vision, to enable machines to comprehend, interpret, and respond to complex tasks—ultimately empowering businesses to streamline operations and stay ahead in today's competitive landscape.
How Can AI Be Used for Small Businesses?
Artificial intelligence can help automate various aspects of business operations, such as customer service, marketing efforts, and sales. This, in turn, enables your team to spend more time on work that prioritizes creativity and deep thinking. A recent study by Microsoft revealed that 56% of small business owners believe their businesses could gain efficiency through AI solutions. Per the same study, the primary areas of interest for AI applications for business owners include analyzing customer data and trends (49%) and automating repetitive tasks like order tracking and customer service (46%).
AI tools for small business include platforms such as Bard, a conversational generative AI chatbot developed by Google, and ChatGPT, a large language model-based chatbot by OpenAI. Both offer free subscriptions and have become invaluable assets for businesses of all sizes. For instance, these AI tools offer the ability to automate customer interactions through natural language understanding, providing efficient and personalized responses. Due to their advanced language processing capabilities, they also can enhance content understanding, allowing small businesses to optimize their online presence and reach a wider audience.
It is important to note that to access AI tools, you'll need reliable and fast WiFi. At Optimum Business, we offer solutions that can help you stay connected with WiFi 6 technology and high-speed Internet up to 1 Gig—the ultimate edge with our fastest Internet speed available.
Ahead, learn more about different uses for AI and discover some of the best AI tools for small businesses.
Predictive analytics: Small businesses can use AI for predictive analytics to forecast market trends and predict customer behavior and demand, allowing for informed decision-making. These tools can also help create more accurate customer segments based on factors such as demographics, preferences, and purchasing behavior. This data can then be used to create targeted advertisements designed to improve engagement and conversion rates.
Social media management: Small businesses can use AI tools such as Sproutsocial to improve their social media content and quality. Apps like Sproutsocial can include an array of features, such as sentiment analysis, trend analysis, and social listening, to help marketers understand audience engagement, optimize content strategies, and improve social media performance.
Chatbots and virtual assistants: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants have become essential tools for small businesses to handle customer queries efficiently. These automated systems provide instant responses, improving the overall customer experience.
Personalized marketing campaigns: By analyzing customer data, AI can create personalized marketing campaigns that will help your business reach its target audience. ChatGPT and Bard can help your team efficiently generate branded content, including blog posts, emails, and social media copy, streamlining the content creation process. There’s also Grammarly, which automatically corrects grammar and spelling errors and helps to ensure your marketing materials don’t go out with any mistakes.
Customer relationship: Tools like Salesforce help to enhance customer relationships by analyzing customer data, predicting behaviors, and automating marketing campaigns, enabling more personalized and targeted engagement with leads and customers.
Data analysis: By analyzing large volumes of customer data to identify trends, preferences, and opportunities for improvement in products or services, AI helps business owners make informed decisions to better meet customer needs. There are AI tools that do this, but you can also collect and analyze key data with Optimum Business PRO WiFi. This service allows business owners to create a separate guest network and collect information from those who log into it. This data can then be used to gain a deeper insight into your customers and their demographics.
Security: Security and fraud prevention are paramount considerations for small businesses, and AI is a powerful ally in fortifying defenses against potential threats. For instance, AI is instrumental in the implementation of biometric authentication methods, such as fingerprint or facial recognition. These advanced security measures add an extra layer of protection by ensuring that only authorized individuals can access sensitive systems or data.
Task automation: AI tools can automate repetitive tasks, such as data entry, reducing the manual effort required to input information into databases or spreadsheets. This not only minimizes the risk of errors but also allows employees to dedicate their time to more strategic activities.
Project planning and scheduling: Analyzing historical data, optimizing schedules, and predicting potential roadblocks are more AI uses you can take advantage of. This enables businesses to plan and execute projects more effectively, meeting deadlines and maintaining project timelines.
Tools like Asana and Monday use AI to help with automatic task scheduling, resource management, and tracking projects. Other tools, such as Stepsize AI and Motion, also include risk prediction features.
Expense management: This is particularly beneficial for small businesses looking to maintain accurate financial records and control costs effectively. With AI, you can streamline expense tracking and management, reducing the likelihood of errors and ensuring compliance with financial regulations.
Automated bookkeeping: Leveraging AI for automated bookkeeping helps make financial processes more efficient and accurate. This not only saves time but also enables more precise financial reporting.
One of the most popular AI tools for business that owners can use for accounting is BotKeeper, which can automate tasks like bank reconciliation, bill pay, and expense tracking.
Customer support: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants excel in handling routine customer queries and providing quick and efficient responses. This not only enhances customer satisfaction but also frees up human resources for more complex tasks.
Sentiment analysis: AI's ability to analyze customer feedback and sentiment is useful for businesses seeking to understand how their customers perceive products or services. This valuable insight helps in refining strategies and improving overall customer relations.
AI Chatbots are a popular option for providing customer service, as they can provide 24/7 support, answer frequently asked questions, collect customer information, and route inquiries to the appropriate customer. Some chatbot platforms include Drift, Intercom, and LivePerson.
How Can Small Businesses Prepare Their Teams to Use AI?
If you're a small business owner aiming to enhance your operations, building a team with a solid grasp of AI technology is vital for your organization's success. Invest in professional development courses on machine learning to keep your team updated on AI advancements. This proactive approach ensures they can handle increasingly complex tasks in the future. Once you've chosen your AI tools to try, ensure your Internet service doesn't hinder your experience.