AI for Small Business: Part 2

group of marketers using ai for small business

Last month, we took a bit of a technical look at what makes artificial intelligence tick. While a look under the hood may be a bit of a mindboggle, it hopefully gave you a small understanding of how AI works. With that out of the way, though, it’s time to get to the “good” stuff: How to implement AI for small business.

From automating routine tasks to getting insights into customer behavior, there are plenty of ways to use AI. Let’s explore the practical applications and other benefits!

Benefits of AI for Small Business

In knowledgeable hands, AI can be a powerhouse of a marketing tool. We’re not talking about the low-quality engagement farming and spam posts you see on Facebook. We’re talking about the companies who grow with the help of AI used in thoughtful ways. Let’s dive in.

Improved Efficiency

No business is free from tedious and time-consuming tasks; after all, invoicing, scheduling, and inventory are important parts of most companies. AI-powered tools can be implemented to handle those things so you and your team can focus on projects and other tasks that drive growth.

Enhanced Customer Service

Chatbots generally induce eye rolls at their mere mention, but a high quality, AI-powered one can provide real value to your customers and enable you to step in when need be. It means 24-hour support that provides answers to common questions and minor issues. These tools can even analyze and learn from previous customer interactions to be more effective in the future by establishing a “knowledge base”.

Data-Driven Insights

Customer data is readily available. It’s knowing how to use it that’s the real trick. Sometimes, though, there’s simply too much data available, to the point where it’s a huge task just to take it all in. With artificial intelligence, the analysis can be taken care of without taking up the time of you and your team. Tend to more pressing tasks while your customer data is organized in a way that helps you strategize, develop products, and improve customer service.

Cost Reduction

Time is money, which is why freeing up your employees’ time is so vital. When they’re not tied up with menial tasks, they’re able to help in significant ways, leaving the tedium to the AI that truly doesn’t mind doing those “bland” chores. We guarantee the fees for even the best AI tools out there will be significantly less than paying an employee to do these same tasks (and take much longer to do them). Put your people to work doing things that inspire them! The technology will handle the rest, with monitoring of course.

Practical Applications of AI in Business

The potential uses of AI for small business goes beyond answering queries and taking care of tedious tasks. If you have a deep understanding of how to implement it, you can take advantage of some impressive potential.

Operations and Inventory Management

Do you constantly struggle with inventory issues? If you don’t order the right amount of inventory, you take a hit. Empty shelves mean dissatisfied customers and packed ones represent money your business wasted. With AI, you can predict future inventory needs using market trends and other data. Additionally, it can help plan supply chain routes and schedules to minimize shortages.

Finance and Accounting

Data entry and other bookkeeping tasks can become quite time consuming and tedious. With the help of technology, you can free up time and reduce errors. Furthermore, AI can be utilized to detect unusual activities in transaction patterns to help combat fraud. When your finances are protected this way, it makes financial planning much easier.

Marketing and Sales

AI has the ability to analyze any data presented to it. We touched briefly on this while discussing data-driven insights above, but it goes deeper than that. It can take in client behavior such as social media activity to help you identify your target audience. Additionally, it can segment your customers for personalized marketing pushes. And of course, it can provide a big assist in creating content that your customers find valuable.

Human Resources

Say you’re in the middle of a hiring push and you’re sitting on hundreds or even thousands of applications. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem, nonetheless. With artificial intelligence tools can screen resumes and identify top candidates, which speeds up the hiring process and helps you select the right person for the job.

Steps to Implement AI in Your Small Business

Knowing the benefits of AI for small business, it’s time to implement the tools themselves. But how do you do that? If you need some pointers, we’re always happy to help, but here are a few tips for making sure you’re handling it correctly.

  1. Identify Areas for Improvement: When you know where your shortcomings lie, you’ll have a much easier time with implementation. If you struggle with inventory, start there!
  2. Research AI Tools: Not every AI tool is the same. Some are built for small businesses, and others are for more personal uses. We suggest opting for something that’s scalable and user-friendly.
  3. Pilot Projects: Don’t trust your new AI software with your biggest project. Start with a small project to measure effectiveness, and trust it with incrementally bigger tasks as you get comfortable with it.
  4. Training and Development: AI is useless if 90% of your company doesn’t know how to use it. Take the time to train your employees and make sure they understand the tools.
  5. Measure and Optimize: Keep track of how the AI is doing. If you have the data to back up performance, it’s easier to make adjustments or leave it as is.

Challenges and Considerations

With every new technology comes reservations and distrust. We’re already seeing a good amount of it in regards to artificial intelligence. Understanding what AI is and does can help to dispel rumors about it being the “boogie man” of the tech world, but there are considerations to take into account that aren’t black and white.

Budget Constraints

AI can offer an appealing return on investment, but that doesn’t make the up-front cost of some tools less intimidating. Take some time to evaluate the long-term benefits posed by AI and make your decision based on your findings. Try out the free level of some tools for a taste before fully jumping into a paid subscription.

Data Privacy and Security

One reason many of your customers have for sticking with you is their trust in you. That’s why it’s important to maintain that trust throughout the AI implementation process. If you’re using AI in business, it’s important you comply with data protection regulations and have good security in place so you can safeguard your customers’ sensitive information. Your business location and where you service customers have a large impact on your ability to utilize data, so be sure to check into regulations and restrictions.

Skill Gap

AI isn’t necessarily an “Easy” button. Technical expertise is required to use it, so investing in training and hiring professionals could bridge this gap.

Change Management

Change can be scary for employees who have gotten used to their roles and the tools they use within them. When you’re getting ready for AI implementation, have a change management strategy in place. Be ready to communicate, train, and take other measures that will ensure a seamless transition to whatever new processes are presented.

The Future of AI in Small Businesses

AI is growing at a rapid pace, constantly shaping the landscape of countless industries in the process. It will continue to evolve by helping with customer insights, automated processes, and advanced analytics. This means your business capabilities will be enhanced, but you’ll need to keep up to stay competitive. If AI implementation never happens at your business while others thrive with it, it can be tough to regain your footing. No matter your thoughts on this technological behemoth, it’s part of our world now. Just as the internet shaped the professional landscape, this is doing the same.

Embracing AI for Small Business

New tech can be intimidating, but the benefits AI offers are undeniable. Improved efficiency, enhanced customer service, data-driven insights, and cost reduction are all benefits made possible by AI, and approaching them in a careful, intentional way can help you keep up and see your business thrive.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, trust a business that has taken the time to use artificial intelligence in an effective way. Get in touch with ArachnidWorks and let’s set our sights on the future!