Summit Ghimire is the founder of surpass, an SEO company. He helps national and large companies exceed their sales targets.
The current state of AI technology and its future has left the majority of Americans in doubt 80% either minimally trusting or undecided about the reliability of generative AI output.
Aside from whether or not advancements in AI capabilities are great for humanity, there are other more practical questions we should ask. How will AI affect SMBs? Can it increase the efficiency and accuracy of operations, reduce costs and expand a company’s capabilities?
If AI’s potential applications were more difficult to define, hesitation would be understandable – perhaps even recommended. However, many use cases already prove the many possible applications of AI for companies of all sizes. The momentum continues to grow exponentially, and from what I’ve experienced, potential benefits from integrating advanced artificial intelligence could revolutionize the operations of a small or medium-sized business.
Business AI benefits
There are several accessible AI tools that can be applied to departments in a company, from sales to marketing to accounting and more. These tools can save time and improve accuracy in a number of areas.
• Analysis: When an AI system is given the deepest sources of data to mine, its capabilities can grow in direct correlation due to the evolution of machine learning. I’ve found AI’s ability to provide data-driven and predictive analytics to be particularly effective in sales forecasting and personalized marketing.
• Customer service: Powered by AI technology, chatbots are becoming a common first-line relationship with customers as they typically require less manual labor while speeding up the initial communication and delivery of information.
• Marketing efforts: Marketing departments have many ways to take advantage of AI capabilities, especially content creation. AI software can generate content for blogs, social media, newsletters, etc. However, it is important to have a human touch in the final piece as purely AI generated content can still contain factual errors or come across as too mechanical to readers.
• Operational efficiency: Many tasks can be performed entirely by AI software or machines running on the software. This shift can free employees from labor-intensive, time-consuming responsibilities so they can focus on more complex, integral tasks.
• Recommendation Algorithms: With the right datasets and the right machine learning (a cornerstone of modern AI), recommendation algorithms can successfully guide customers to actions they are likely to respond to positively.
This glimpse into current and upcoming applications reflects how AI technology can sharpen and expand individual and company-wide capabilities. However, it is important to note that every situation is unique, whether in size, industry, scope or operational nature. Many companies may find it prudent to pass on AI technology, if only in the short term, especially if they don’t currently have a robust data collection process in place, without which many functions of AI will be extremely limited due to the nature of data analytics .
Similarly, integration would be severely hampered without adequate funding, personnel and equipment. In this scenario, there may be the need but not the skill, or the skill but no need at the time. Executives should assess their current activities and future ambitions to determine the right timing.
Integrate AI technology into your business
As a business leader, you can take certain steps to identify the resources that are most likely to integrate seamlessly and deliver optimal results for your business. Take the time to consider the following factors so that you can avoid fruitless efforts and sharpen potential research.
1. Prepare your team for success. Define your team and goals before deciding on possible integration. Getting feedback from others in your company is recommended; However, remember that too many voices overwhelming the discussion may hinder rather than help progress.
2. Think about your company’s activities. What responsibilities could shift to AI? Which of these is the most time consuming and inefficient? Prioritize team feedback to get a hands-on perspective and review available KPI data to identify pain points that need to be addressed.
3. Weigh a cost-benefit analysis. What ROI do you need to justify the investment? Do you need an expert? Depending on the industry and complexity, it may be advantageous in certain situations to engage an experienced integration specialist.
4. Determine the ideal timing. Will your employees have the time to devote to the integration process? Can your budget bear the direct costs for a final ROI? Is your corporate culture optimally prepared for the operation?
5. If your answer is “no” to a crucial question, hit pause. Are your business operations skilled and streamlined? If not, the chances of not maximizing your investment in AI technology increase significantly. It is important to have a stable environment to integrate new software or machine capabilities.
The importance of thorough research and monitoring progress
With your primary needs defined and confirmed, you can start exploring with confidence. Search specifically for case studies that match your predetermined needs. Search Google for your specific needs using keywords such as “AI for (need)”, “top rated AI for (need)”, and so on. I recommend prioritizing software with multiple features for maximum ROI. Consider professional reviews and prioritize customer support for a successful integration.
Once you have made the ideal choice of AI technology for your company and made the purchase, you need to follow the initial process during the integration and measure the results. Set a specific review period with deadlines to review progress, identify pain points, and confirm cost-benefit forecasts. Creating a fixed structure and planning for the process can greatly contribute to the successful integration and use of the chosen AI system or service.
As you measure the effectiveness of the chosen system, this analysis will help guide your follow-up actions: If it’s been running smoothly, with optimal use cases, are you happy with the new set-up? Or are you expanding and adding additional automation processes? And if you choose to evolve, what is the sensible pace of integration for your employees and customers?
Business is in the midst of a truly exciting period of development as capabilities expand and boundaries are expanded. Change is often a challenging experience, but it’s also why leaders emerge daily, nurtured with a passion for running a business that pays off. AI is not only a feature of the near future, but also of the here and now, ready to help us optimize our operations.