AI can give small businesses a significant advantage.

AI can give small businesses a significant advantage. Source: Shutterstock

7 ways AI can benefit small businesses

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) is a great technology that can make a real difference to any organization, whether it’s a multinational organization or a small business.

The fact is, AI runs on data, and if the organization has access to data, the technology can help gain great insights that make a significant dent in the marketplace.

While many businesses think AI solutions are expensive, they’re actually not — especially those that are bought over the web, delivered via the cloud, as a service, and charged for on a monthly basis.

Here are a few examples of how AI can benefit small businesses:

# 1 | Marketing

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.

# 6 | Supply chain analytics

Businesses have access to lots of data about their supply chains — about their procurements and their own delivery schedules.

Using AI tools, businesses can better understand the trends in terms of how they buy and stock materials and when and how they produce and supply finished goods.

Using those insights, the company can decide how to optimize their supply chain to minimize delays, inefficiencies, and associated costs.

# 7 | Budgeting and finance

Finance is data, and if the company pays attention, it can reveal the story of the company’s foundations and growth. If companies use AI solutions to understand their own financial needs based on market requirements and projections.

They can then reduce the cost of capital and make sure they’re always borrowing at the lowest cost — since they know their needs months in advance, to a great degree of certainty.