Can Artificial Intelligence help my small business?

two hands of a robot isolated on white background

Artificial Intelligence or ‘AI’ has had scientists and business leaders argue over whether it is a threat or an opportunity for many years now. While the debate still goes on, it is safe to say that AI has infiltrated our lives.

Relying on technology is becoming second nature to many of us now. For instance, we ask our AI-powered smart assistants (Alexa, Siri, Ok Google and Cortana) a wide range of questions and expect quick and correct answers in return. We rely on AI to filter abusive messages and show only relevant feeds on our social media, albeit unknowingly. We even admire AI-created art in museums and buy them – Christie was the first auction house to sell a piece of art created by an algorithm in 2018.

The application of AI in business is also far-reaching. If you think that AI has so far only been used by tech giants (Amazon and Google), then it is worth spending a few minutes reading this article and learn how AI can help businesses in general, even small businesses.

AI helping small businesses

In April 2019, Forbes published a very interesting article detailing four ways AI technology can help small businesses. They are:

  • Improve sales and marketing with an AI-infused CRM
    AI-infused CRM platforms such as Salesforce enable small business owners to analyze customer feedback, which sales and marketing can base their actions on.
  • Automate Customer Communications with a chatbot
    Like an employee that never sleeps or tires, a chatbot is here to answer common customer questions and concerns, 24/7. Saving your team from mundane tasks.
  • Streamline HR tasks
    AI proves extremely useful in filtering down 100’s of CVs in the hiring process and creating employee engagement through chatbots.
  • Acquire competitive intelligence
    The ability to gather data and produce reports on your competitors means it’s easier than ever to keep track of your rivals and react to changes in the industry that could affect you.

If you are a small business owner running a brick and mortar store in London, there is a possibility that you may find AI irrelevant – but allow us to explain further and see if we can convince you that AI can really help you and your small business.

Create a competitive edge with Google

Google is more than just a powerful search engine, it is a knowledge engine that can understand your intention behind each search query. Small business owners can use Google to research competitors and consumer habits, as well as to connect with their customers, to name but a few. Other Google products that also can help your business get the edge over your competitors including:

  • Google Local – a listing where you can find out who is doing business in your area.
  • Google Trends – a search trends feature that shows how often specific terms are entered into Google’s search engine over a given period of time.
  • Google Pay Per Click – an advertising model in which advertisers pay each time a user clicks on one of their online ads.

Increase efficiency with Otter

Otter is an AI-powered app that can help you with note-taking. It can transcribe voice conversations into rich notes with text, audio, and images, giving you the opportunity to fully engage in conversations.

Polish your presentation with Grammarly

Your customers should not see obvious grammar mistakes, not when you can rely on apps like Grammarly to check your proposals and presentations before showing them to the clients.

Why you should consider AI now

Even small acquisitions of AI can make a massive difference to the productivity of small businesses, though it is worth noting that AI use for small businesses can and will vary dramatically, as AI works for you depends on the needs and goals of your business.

For example, baristas face an uphill struggle trying to get through the morning coffee rush. For café owners who want to keep queues under control, AI-powered front-of-house ordering screens can take orders and pass information to baristas efficiently, removing previous time spent on tills taking and processing orders. As orders immediately pop up on barista’s screens, it’s easy to keep track of orders as there is no chance of human error. With just the simple use of AI, a small company, in this case, a coffee shop, can become far more efficient. No more leaving the queue out of frustration, customers can order their favourite brew, know it’s registered, and expect it to see the delivery quickly.

As you can see from the above, it would be a mistake to think that AI is exclusively the bragging rights of tech powerhouses like Amazon and Google. In more ways than one, small businesses should not be afraid of harnessing its power and consequently drive their business forward.