Why Every Small Business Should Care About A.I.

As I go around the country talking to small business owners, I’ve become pretty concerned about the readiness of most American Small Businesses to start using Artificial Intelligence to stay relevant in the 21st Century.

The disconnect between how comfortable we are using A.I. in our personal lives and how uncomfortable the thought of using it in our business lives is amazing. Do you ever wonder how your phone autocompletes words as you type a text message? Or how digital assistants on a website chat service respond to your message so quickly? The answer of couse is Artificial Intelligence. A.I. is everywhere these days, and is rapidly gaining momentum.

As in our personal lives, artificial intelligence is also dramatically changing the way companies operate, and not just mega-retailers with deep pockets, but companies of all sizes in an array of industries. Here are some recent data points offered about plans to use A.I. across all business types in the next year.

According to Salesforce, 51% of 3.500 companies surveyed are either using or plan to start using A.I. by 2020.

If you are in the 49% you are dramatically falling behind. When you look at what the tech titans like Amazon, Facebook and Google, it is easy to see how they use A.I. to build profiles of all their customers and develop targeted marketing tactics to build engagement, it can be downright scary. One minute you are on Google, looking for airfares for a family vacation and five minutes later you check your FB newsfeed and an ad appears targeted specifically for you.

What would you do with power like that? Behind the scenes its not complicated. You just access to lots and lots of data and the ability to manipulate the data in real time. Optimizing your data is step one towards using artificial intelligence. Not having an awareness of how to get started with A.I. is really causing a lot of small businesses to fall behind.

It is in your best interest to keep up with your competitors.

According to Gartner, by 2020, 85% of customer interaction with their bank is done without human interaction.

The key here is automation. By automating simple repetitive processes like checking account balances, sending low balance notifications and filing changes of address, banks have given customers so much more flexibility and saved huge amounts of money.

How much time do you spend doing repetitive, simple things in your business that should be done by a machine? Setting up simple automations is not as expensive or as challenging as it seems. Think about some of the manual work you do in your business, like things bank have automated, and get started with A.I. right there.

Coming up with a plan on how to get started, when to level up and planning towards an artificial intelligence endgame will move you towards the front of the pack.

Business Insider reported by 2020, 80% of companies they surveyed are either using or plan to use chatbots to provide quicker customer service and handle basic tech support.

Think of 4 of your peers. Are you the only one not using chatbots. This is one of the simplest and least expensive entry points to artificial intelligence. Having a chatbot built that can handle a lot of questions that you get on your Facebook or LinkedIn page will free up time and give you the ability to engage with customers in real time. How much value will that add to your business?

When I am in a room with a group of Small Business owners, most are where you are. Gartner, Business Insider and Salesforce place their primary focus on corporate clients and it shows in the complexity of their systems and the price of their solutions. This makes it even harder for us to know where to get started with A.I.

It is a fact that for many small business owners, the implementation of Artificial Intelligence feels like a daunting challenge. It’s easy to dismiss A.I. as a complicated and slightly alien tool that can only be used and understood by computer scientists and other experts at big tech companies, but this attitude is mistaken. In reality, there are many ways small businesses can take advantage of AI right now. And they shouldn’t wait, your competitors certainly won’t.

While it’s often mythologized in popular culture and treated like a uniquely destabilizing economic force, A.I.is a lot like any other technology. As more and more companies have developed A.I. applications, competition and adoption rates have increased, driving down costs and making A.I. accessible to a much wider range of businesses.

As AI becomes more popular among companies of all sizes, it will be all the more important for your small business to take advantage of what this revolutionary technology has to offer. Here are five ways to do just that.

1. Use A.I. to help collect, store and organize your data

2. Use A.I. to improve your HR & Recruitment

3. Use A.I. to optimize and automate your business processes

4. Use A.I. to better understand your customers

5. Use A.I. to build targeted marketing engagements

Like so many revolutionary technologies thoughout our history, A.I. is causing massive disruption. Like how the steam engine disrupted the importance of the sailing ship or the airplane to rail transportation, A.I. is not going away. Businesses that use Artificial Intelligence are the new and the ones that don’t are the old, dinosuars waiting for extinction. So whatever you decide to start with A.I., the important thing is to start today.

Daniel Meyer heads Sonic Analytics, an analytics firm with offices in Manila, the San Francisco Bay Area and as of February 2019, Ocala, FL. With over 20 years in Big Data, Dan is one of the most sought-after public speakers in Asia and offers big data coaching and analytics training seminars on both sides of the Pacific. Dan has also recently joined the Powerteam International family as a small business analytics resource speaker.

Sonic Analytics(www.sonicanalytics.com) brings big data analytics solutions like business intelligence, business dashboards and data storytelling to small and medium sized organizations looking to enhance their data-driven decision-making capabilities. We also advocate the use of analytics for civic responsibility through training, consulting and education.

As citizens of this great democracy, we need to look at the data (analytics), plan a course of action (strategy) and share our data-driven viewpoints (presentation). This approach to a data savvy work force starts in school. So, we started an internship program to empower our youth to use Analytics, plan Strategy and Present their insights… ASP!

When not training current and future analysts, you can find Dan championing the use of analytics to empower data-driven citizenship by volunteering his expertise with schools and non-profits dedicated to evidence-based social progress like Saint Leo University’s Women in STEAM 2020 Conference.