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AI is the best friend of small businesses.

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Image Credit: Alistair Berg, Getty Images

With the same promise and pitfalls as it brought to large companies, artificial intelligence is quickly making its way into small-and-medium business (SMB) layers of the economy.

New services and software are being released in the cloud and traditional data centers. These new services and software release advanced AI tools to the less-than mighty in low-cost, simple-to-use formats that do not require expensive and rare skillsets.

These tools can accelerate many SMB processes, providing a lifeline for businesses that need it to compete against the giants of online commerce. However, they are still just like any other technology: there’s a right and wrong way to use them.

With so many developments, AI’s potential use case for SMBs is still unclear. How can small business owners select the best platforms? How easy is it to change your mind if necessary?

Artificial Intelligence at your fingertips

Romania’s Business Review recently featured Mihai-Alexandru Cristea’s highlights on how AI is changing the landscape for SMBs. Organizations can quickly adapt to changing business conditions by accessing various applications, including CRM, HR, web, and logo design. These tools can be built using low-code/no-code architectures. This allows non-technical staff access to the agency and will enable them to start using it quickly. Chatbot platforms allow workers to move away from drag-and-drop interfaces and other artifacts in favor of a conversational approach.

Although AI is an excellent tool for employees, small businesses can expect to use it to enhance customer experiences. Grace Lau, director for growth content at Dialpad communications platform, stated recently that AI could be used to help SMBs quickly scale up their CX capabilities without spending too much.

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AI-powered chatbots and self-help tools work 24/7. They have proved to be adept at responding to customer queries or directing them to the right expert or decision-maker. AI also outperforms traditional solutions in accuracy, speed, and overall satisfaction. This leads to increased brand loyalty, better processes, and higher sales.

AI offers a fundamental advantage over traditional software in that it can learn from its mistakes and continuously optimize processes to create better experiences. This level of success requires that the AI platform is appropriately designed and trained. A straightforward implementation strategy is essential, with a clearly defined user journey and a way to track performance and correct bad decisions.

Small business needs: The right AI

Small business owners need to understand that different types of AI are available and not all are suitable for their needs. According to Xavier Finch, a tech consultant, most SMBs will use a narrow AI version. This is a program that’s specialized and designed to perform specific tasks. These systems can save time and money by performing repetitive, time-consuming tasks and help to identify new markets or business opportunities. General AI is the technology behind thinking machines that attempt to replicate the electro-chemical processes in the human brain. This is a more complex technology and is still developing in different forms. This type of AI should be left to professionals at the moment.

Small businesses often lack the skills and resources to manage full-blown AI ecosystems. As such, many will use out-of-the-box solutions. These can be cloud-based or locally hosted platforms that offer extensive cloud support. These tools may not be as flexible or customizable as custom-built systems. Still, Timely, a time tracking software developer, points out that they are quick and easy to implement to get small businesses on the path to automation. These tools can be subscribed for as low as $10 per month for each user. This allows organizations to scale up deployments as they wish. Additional features are available for less than $20/m/u.

SMBs have good news: it is not too late to start using AI. If you act quickly, you can still be considered at the forefront of the technology wave compared with most other companies at this level. Failure to implement AI as soon as possible for small businesses that want to be one of the big ones is a significant mistake.

 

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