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Gone are the days when only large corporations could benefit from the opportunities presented by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Nowadays, smaller organisations are tapping into the power and potential of these innovations in their droves, equipping themselves with the tools they need to improve efficiency, productivity and organisation.
If your business is yet to explore this potentially revolutionary avenue, now is the time to try. AI and machine learning is becoming increasingly accessible for businesses in a variety of industries, and such is the urgency with which firms are starting to utilise it, those that fail to act soon could find themselves lagging behind their competitors.
Here, we look at five of the best ways in which AI can assist small business owners.
1) Deploy AI for better customer service
The rise of social media and other technology platforms means that companies have never had more ways to interact with their customers. Nowadays, customers expect more engagement with the brands they purchase from, and it is now imperative for companies to develop speedy ways to address any concerns raised by their customers.
In a 2018 report, Gartner predicted that a quarter of customer service operations would integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, increasing from less than two per cent in 2017.
AI-based communication tools, including chatbots, offer a number of key benefits for small businesses. Many large corporations have the infrastructure in place to operate 24-hour customer service lines, but their smaller counterparts very often can not afford to do so. Chatbots provide vital assistance to customers whenever they require it by immediately answering questions from potential customers.
Having a chatbot in place offers smaller firms the necessary tools to improve customer experience without the need for more manpower.
2) Use AI in security applications
Security vendors are increasingly making the most of opportunities presented by AI due to its ability to recognise threats in a more timely and more accurate manner. In fact, Gartner has previously suggested that, by 2020, at least 75% of security software tools will feature predictive and prescriptive analytics, which are based on heuristics, artificial intelligence capabilities or machine learning algorithms.
Recent developments in AI have resulted in smarter autonomous security systems, which can learn for themselves, meaning that, with the correct software, computers are able to keep up with big data that cybersecurity systems produce. AI algorithms can identify outliers from normal patterns, meaning that, instead of looking for matches with specific signatures, AI creates a baseline of what is normal. From there, deep dives into abnormal events can be made instantly to detect attacks.
Another approach in AI is to use supervised algorithms to detect threats they have been trained in, such as detecting advanced malware that is new or has mutated from a previous form of malware.
3) Use ready-made solutions
One thing that smaller firms often overlook is the wide variety of dedicated AI tools that have the ability to automate or streamline many key processes and day-to-day tasks, particularly in their office spaces. Such AI-enabled tools can perform a variety of functions - from managing communications to providing business insight reports.
But what’s so good about these tools? Well, AI-enabled tools give small businesses the chance to thrive in a marketplace that is constantly evolving. They empower smaller firms to compete with their larger counterparts by using some of the same tools, which in turn helps to improve their efficiency and responsiveness in the marketplace.
4) Using AI for HR activities
Many smaller firms face a number of challenges in human resources - in particular relating to the recruitment of talented new staff. Very often, larger corporations will have dedicated HR departments that are slick in their recruitment efforts, which makes it harder for smaller firms to compete. That’s where AI comes in.
AI is a great tool used by small firms struggling to recruit. It eliminates the need to scroll through reams of CVs and makes the process much simpler and streamlined. Machine learning algorithms can also determine the former hiring practices that have been the most effective - such as how you reached out to candidates and where you looked for them in the first place.
On top of this, other AI applications can be used to learn the types of communication that will appeal to specific candidates, as well as informing recruiters about a person’s work history and their fit for a particular role.
AI tools can also be used to monitor employee engagement, and gather feedback on the development of staff. These tools can also give individuals the chance to share any concerns they may have.
In the not-so-distant future, businesses will also be able to use AI to conduct interviews. The technology will have the capability to analyse responses and even facial expressions, completely revolutionising the recruitment process as we know it.
5) Enhance backend organisation
Backend tasks, which include logistics operations like basic accounting, scheduling and other forms of day-to-day organisation, can also be aided using AI technologies. Smaller businesses can utilise such tools to transfer often time-consuming tasks like these, freeing up time for employees to focus on other activities.
While workforces often express concern that the introduction of AI could put their employment at risk, it’s worth noting that such technology can get rid of monotonous tasks and free them up to carry out more meaningful work.
Discuss AI and machine learning with an IT expert at Evaris today. Contact us by calling 0330 124 1245 or email us at [email protected].