Many small business owners consider the implementation of AI an intimidating prospect. According to a Spiceworks survey, a mere 21 percent of small businesses are using AI or plan to use the technology within the next two years, compared to 65 percent of enterprises with 5,000 workers or more.
Now, it is easy to dismiss artificial intelligence as a complex, sophisticated tool understood only by experts at big tech firms like Microsoft and Google. But this attitude is mistaken.
The truth is, small businesses can leverage AI in different ways. No wonder AI adoption rates have surged 270 percent in the last four years and tripled since the past year. If you are a small business owner or CIO and your organization still does not have AI, you should not wait. Your competitors certainly will not.
Limitations to AI Adoption
The AI implementation gap exists in small business due to a combination of factors, including scarcity of employees who can implement the technology at individual operations, budget constraints, and the high upfront cost of AI tools. But different entities, from start-ups to vendors, are developing tools so that small businesses can access the technology without a data scientist.
It will take small companies a while to add the new technology to their business processes. Although businesses desire the operational efficiency of AI systems, it is still not a priority for them. However, revenue is, and you can use that as a focal point to show how AI improves small business profits in the following ways:
Artificial intelligence marketing
Artificial intelligence can revolutionize the business market scenario, helping employees eliminate the need for performing routine activities. Earlier, small businesses could afford limited ads in the local markets. However, AI advancements now allow smaller businesses to go further than the local markets and reach a sizeable online audience.
Small businesses using AI-based platforms can target certain consumers to receive marketing messages. These help gather and analyze consumer data throughout different channels. AI makes all this possible without a dedicated team of marketers. So, small businesses should integrate AI as soon as possible to reach a large number of customers and generate more sales in the coming future.
AI logistics and supply chain management
Small businesses must devise new ways to reduce expenses and meet the demands of the supply chain management. However, increasing transport and fuel costs and the higher ‘free delivery’ demand makes this easier said than done.
An AI-powered supply chain manager can oversee the whole company’s supply chain. It can monitor fresh orders and integrate with the present infrastructure. AI can also use third-party services to make sure all aspects – from the client to the warehouse – is efficiently optimized and managed to decrease costs and raise profits.
AI for smarter hiring
Small businesses have a tough time with the hiring process due to the lack of huge networks, name recognition, and other resources for job hunters. AI, however, can level the playing field considerably. Earlier, recruiters would manually go through hundreds of resumes. AI makes the process a lot more expansive and streamlined.
Machine learning algorithms can determine which past hiring practices proved more effective for small businesses. Other AI algorithms can learn the types of communication that appeal to certain candidates, discover new leads from unexpected avenues, and also inform recruiters about the specifics of a candidate’s work history.
AI takes the hiring operations to the next level and benefits small businesses looking to compete with bigger business firms.
AI-powered business analysis
Giving AI access to your small business operations allows it to detect market gaps that would otherwise go overlooked or take a long time to detect. This proves beneficial for small businesses in competitive industries who could use such gaps in the market to determine where they invest their resources.
Also, AI-powered business analysts can generate new business concepts as a service no matter where your business is located globally. By analyzing large volumes of information ranging from national, state, and local economy, to finance and banking institutes, to political trends, consumer demands and infrastructure, AI can generate business ideas that would otherwise stay hidden.
Thus, AI business analyst adoption beats having an actual business analyst on the company payroll who can spot opportunities and gaps your small business competitors have no clue about.
If that’s not all, AI can provide support via information for starting new business ventures, such as networking with angels and VC, company registration, government incentives, and taxes.
AI search engine optimization
The combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mobile technology will soon transform the digital marketing sector. Now more than ever, small businesses need to compete in Google’s organic search engine. Business owners must derive meaningful insights and take decisions to stay visible in the search engine results. Remember, more visibility means more profits.
SEO software companies can use AI tools to analyze large data volumes from multiple sources, and make recommendations and conclusions to improve the organic search performance. AI can also notify about the chances that will have the biggest impact and where you are trailing behind your competitors.
AI tools like Google Analytics offer insights and intelligence directly within their platform and this is ideal for one-person business owners and marketing departments. The addition of AI to the SEO reporting environment is akin to having an SEO specialist on hand all the time. So, use AI to review automated insights, ask questions, and find more meaningful data without paying additional salary.
AI backend organization
AI is often blamed for taking jobs, but what it does is take tasks. And many of these tasks are backend jobs and logistics operations, like scheduling and basic accounting. Given how small businesses employ a limited number of staff, the transfer of such time-consuming activities to AI can help them use human capital more efficiently.
Small business can automate multiple elements of bookkeeping with AI. Restricting AI to backend operations also encroaches less on employees. Employees actually welcome technology that frees them up from monotonous jobs and helps them do more meaningful work. AI increasingly does that and has a direct impact on revenue as a result.
With artificial intelligence becoming slowly more common in everyday business, the cost is bound to go down. Small businesses can now utilize AI to improve their profit margin by increasing efficiency, identifying their actual competitors, reducing revisions and costly outsourcing, uncovering the actual wants and needs of the target audience, and generating meaningful recommendations from data.
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