The Implications of Machine Learning for Small Business | As a small business, you may feel like the concepts of machine learning, and artificial intelligence are beyond you. The reality is, these concepts are likely already having an impact on your business. It’s also likely that in the shortterm there will be implications of AI and machine learning for organizations of all sizes.
Below, we cover some of those possible applications.
Understanding AI and Machine Learning
If you’re a small business just beginning to look at possible uses for AI and machine learning, what are these concepts?
Artificial intelligence is something you’re very likely already using. It simply refers to computer software that engages in activities similar to a human. This can include planning, learning, and problem-solving.
Machine learning is a particular type of artificial intelligence. Machine learning is helpful to process large amounts of data fast. This type of AI encompasses algorithms that learn over time and get better as they do.
There’s also a term—deep learning—which refers to even more specific machine learning. Deep learning helps with advanced functions, including fraud detection. Deep learning looks at multiple factors at one time.
AI and Cybersecurity
When it comes to cybersecurity and the implementation of identity and access management solutions for remote workers, AI, and machine learning are already relevant.
Cybersecurity is perhaps one of the most critical uses of artificial intelligence for small businesses right now, which the average data breach costs millions of dollars and months to recover from, if at all.
There are a lot of examples of AI in cybersecurity.
For example, with AI and machine learning, threat intelligence capabilities are amplified. AI allows for recognizing data patterns to enable security systems to learn from past experiences.
AI and machine learning can also help businesses reduce their response times when an incident does occur and standardize processes to ensure compliance with best practices.
Using AI instead of traditional cyber incident detection strategies can increase detection rates up to 95%. The issue can then become false positives, but a combination of AI and traditional detection works really well to overcome barriers.
Even when your small business is relatively low-tech, you could be exposed to digital threats.
Along with identifying cybersecurity risks, AI can help spot irregularities in your other systems, including inventory and accounting.
To save on employee costs and make your business more accessible and receptive to customers, you can use AI in your small business. Chatbots are one of the common applications of this.
An AI-powered plugin or software means that you can provide customer service constantly, and you’re engaging customers no matter what your employees are doing at any given time.
You can configure chatbots to do any number of tasks, like troubleshooting and having basic conversations with customers or would-be customers. If the customer’s needs are more complex than what the chatbot can handle, it will then arrange a human conversation to take place with one of your employees or representatives.
Interestingly, businesses like restaurants are starting to use AI to improve and streamline things like the kitchen’s efficiency and the customer delivery experience.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems
Many small businesses already use CRM systems like Salesforce. These require human intervention to stay accurate, but they also integrate AI. More than 90% of companies with more than 11 employees use a CRM system, so you can see how this quickly becomes relevant to businesses of all sizes.
CRM tools are becoming more and more intelligent. As a result, they’re offering better and more accurate sales insights. Sales teams and entire companies can make smart, data-driven decisions.
Many CRM tools collect existing and potential customer data to identify the products and services most likely to appeal to them. You can understand your customers better, allowing you to not only uncover new opportunities for sales but develop better marketing and provide more effective, efficient support.
As your number of transactions grows, you need to rely on AI more and more in your CRM because the size of data is similarly expanding.
General Ways to Apply AI in a Small Business
Along with some of the things above, other ways you can integrate AI into your small business include:
- You can use AI to help with some of your content creation. For example, you can develop an optimized framework for your next blog post with AI and then just build it out from there. It allows you to create content faster and gives you a starting point.
- When you can manage large datasets without too much human intervention, it helps you develop more refined marketing that gets you a better return on your investment.
- Speed up or altogether eliminate your administrative work, so your team can focus on the bigger picture and more strategic tasks. Machine learning is growing increasingly adept at pattern recognition and tasks requiring classification. Machine learning can help with repetitive administrative work like invoice processing and create red flags if a human needs to look into anything.
- When you’re a small business owner, it can be overwhelming to sort through all of the data you have and then make analytical decisions based on that. With machine learning, you can create reports to help you more effectively and accurately forecast things like sales and marketing. It basically makes the process of sorting and then applying data more efficient. Therefore you can derive more value from it.
It might sound a little complex and overwhelming even now to think about using machine learning and AI in your small business, but again, you’re probably already doing it. The real takeaway as a small business in tech and the digitally driven world is to be savvy about what’s available about there.
You don’t need to use everything because it gets too complex, but when you know your options, you can power your business in smart ways with the use of AI and machine learning.