Can AI Help My Small Business?
By Henry Silva, AI developer
When you use the term “artificial intelligence” around someone, chances are that they will picture a big tech company using huge and superintelligent machines for really complicated tasks; or they’ll think about something out of a sci-fi movie, like a sentient robot army. But the reality is that AI is increasingly becoming more accessible and available for all kinds of people and applications, and is no longer a far-fetched idea from the past. AI is now part of our lives. One exciting aspect of this is how it’s being used by small businesses to increase growth, improve customer service and manage the business.
Exactly how important are small businesses to our economy? It’s estimated that small businesses make up more than 99% of all U.S. businesses. That being said, Black and Latino-owned businesses attract roughly 6% fewer outside investments when compared to white-owned businesses; these communities clearly are in need of tools and technologies to help improve their performance, since they are not able to compete fairly.
This is where AI comes in. There has been a huge advancement in using AI-based tools to help businesses improve their quality and productivity from any device. For an example of this, look at interactive customer services, like chatbots, that provide help and customer assistance efficiently and at all times. Chatbots appear to be real people when we text or speak customer questions and receive a response. These chatbots are based on AI, and are trained to better understand the customer’s needs and direct them to the right answer. AI is behind the answers which are typically generic in nature. Chatbots are becoming increasingly more accessible, too. Companies are providing cheap and easy-to-use alternatives for integrating AI into your business. See here for options to consider.
Another interesting aspect of this new technology is that it's able to identify situations where it needs human assistance. The chatbot will try everything it knows before asking for human help, and so this drastically reduces costs and allows small businesses -- that already suffer from small workforces -- to focus on more important aspects of their activities, like building new products or working on ongoing projects.
AI can also be used for increasing cybersecurity. We’ve talked about how AI can protect us in online environments before (insert link to AI protection piece), but this new possibility is incredibly useful for small business owners. When starting a new business, especially one that has an online presence, dealing with cybersecurity issues can be costly and time consuming. AI technology, instead of dealing with security threats after a certain problem happens, looks for patterns and unusual activities in order to prevent them. This not only increases the effectiveness of cybersecurity systems, but also severely drives down prices for small business owners.
So, next time you think about AI, consider how this technology has evolved and turned into a relevant part of our lives, and maybe how you can integrate it into your small business from any device. And as these tools become more accessible, we might even see a future where AI becomes the most common technology used by small businesses.