Why SMEs should invest in machine learning

AI and machine learning

To understand how AI and machine learning can help small and medium businesses, it is necessary to be familiar with how it works. AI, or artificial intelligence, is the technology that allows a machine to adapt and learn, as well as perform tasks based on the information it is given. 

Machine learning describes an application of AI which transforms big data using statistical models to make predictions and assumptions about future events and trends. It is essentially a subset of AI that relies on patterns and algorithms rather than explicitly given instructions.

While historically AI was something only associated with top tech companies and science fiction, technological improvements and cost reductions have allowed it to be commonplace in many aspects of our lives.

Things that we encounter each day use artificial intelligence and machine learning to make our lives easier, whether we realize it or not. This includes chatbots on our favorite online merchants that help us place an order or the programming behind Netflix that can accurately predict other shows we might enjoy. 

Impact of AI on business

AI can provide companies with the opportunity to lower costs, increase productivity, and improve marketing and data analysis.

While large corporations can hire a large workforce, most small businesses can only employ a limited number of people. AI and machine learning tools can be used to help current employees do their jobs better and more efficiently. This can also eliminate the need to outsource certain repetitive or time-consuming tasks, giving business owners full control over their operations.

Individualized customer interactions and personal relationships are what set small businesses up for success, and AI can help them enhance this. In fact, improved customer service is one of the largest underlying benefits of implementing artificial intelligence into business systems and processes. 

Imagine if an employee could answer a customer’s question quicker because a software program immediately gave them suggestions for how to help them – they could interact with a larger volume of customers while serving them better.

AI also offers huge benefits for marketing and consumer intelligence. Software that can analyze consumer trends and predict customer needs is a game-changer for placing effective ads and can allow small businesses to get the most out of their marketing budgets.

Increased system and network security are other advantages that machine learning can provide your business. The software can track patterns and data to identify potentially suspicious or fraudulent behavior early on.

Barriers to Implementing AI

While there are many cost-effective and off-the-shelf products that can allow small businesses to take advantage of the benefits AI has to offer, there are still some barriers that have prevented it from being commonplace in small enterprises.

The largest barrier to AI success in small businesses is the lack of big data. Data is needed to help build the knowledge base of the AI software and allow it to have a database of possible scenarios and outcomes to determine where trends and patterns exist. Typically, small businesses do not have the complex systems in place needed to track every customer interaction and touchpoint, meaning there are certain aspects of the business that the AI software has no connection to. 

Another hurdle is that certain AI tools are complex and require a data scientist to interpret the software or user interfaces. While this is something that is continuously improving, many products are still difficult to set up and maintain.

Utilizing AI and machine learning in your business

A study conducted by IDC estimates that business spending on AI will increase by over 50% by 2021, with the industry reaching close to $58 billion. An additional report published by PWC expects that smart automation will add almost $15 trillion to the worldwide GDP by 2030 – a staggering number that makes it clear that businesses plan to use this technology to propel their firms into the future. 

To avoid falling behind other digital competitors, it is necessary for small and medium enterprises to stay educated on the latest tech solutions and work on incorporating them into their business models. Working with a consultant that is well-versed in AI and machine learning can help you analyze the best ways to take advantage of this technology to both increase customer satisfaction and your bottom line.