Artificial intelligence helps small businesses go the extra mile. Source: Shutterstock

Artificial intelligence helps small businesses go the extra mile. Source: Shutterstock

Is artificial intelligence too powerful for small businesses?

NOBODY in the enterprise technology world argues against the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI).

However, given the amount of data it supposedly needs to build models, small businesses tend to believe the technology isn’t for them.

When consultants at top-tier advisory firms list the causes of failure for AI projects, the lack of “plenty of data” arranged and labeled neatly in a practical data platform usually tops the charts.

This further fuels the fears of small business owners who are afraid of making a bad investment in their digital transformation journey.

Value the automation capabilities of artificial intelligence

The reality is that AI can help businesses of all sizes, whether or not they have relevant data at their disposal.

Interpreting data, after all,  is just one part of AI use cases. The others involve automation, integration, and visualization.

In the absence of historic data, companies can really tighten the screws on automation using AI, implementing new platforms that integrate, simplify, and aid workflows across teams and functions.

Here are 5 platforms that help small businesses without relying too much on historical data to aid the creation of models and frameworks:

# 1 | Marketing automation

This is perhaps the most evident one and is something most advanced marketers are already exploring. Simply put, AI can help marketers maximize the ROI on their campaigns — creating outsized gains for the company.

Usually, marketers use AI to understand their target audience’s needs and wants better so they can tailor campaigns in a way that gets the most engagement.

# 2 | Competitive intelligence

There are several solutions in the market that allow businesses to listen in on the social conversations of customers and competitors, in order to help gain insights about how customers feel about your brand (social sentiment) and understand what competitors are doing with theirs.

AI-based competitive intelligence tools can also help companies understand which customers (of a competitor) are unhappy, find out why they’re unhappy, and perhaps learn from their mistakes.

# 3 | Customer service

Most of the larger businesses have deployed AI in customer service, in one way or another. However, one of the solutions that gained the most traction in the market is the chatbot.

Deploying a customer service chatbot usually costs a few thousand dollars at most, and not only ensures customers have access to a support service 24 hours a day, but also allows companies to free up precious time of service agents who can work with customers with more technical or challenging issues.

# 4 | Employee engagement

Human resource professionals have a lot to do, from hiring to managing leaves to handling exit interviews. As a result, focusing on employee engagement isn’t easy.

However, using AI-powered tools that automate the application screening process or the leaves and KPI reporting process, for example, frees up valuable time so HR professionals can focus on providing employees with a better experience.

# 5 | New product development

Businesses, especially those that collect data about their customers directly, can use AI to analyze and recognize issues and challenges that customers face with their products.

Other businesses can use AI to track and understand the new products being launched by competitors — or find new ideas and solutions that customers talk about on social media and in online forums but don’t officially communicate to the company.

Gaining insights from these can help companies create new products that resonate with customers and appeal to them in the right way.