AI and Small Business: It’s Not Just for Enterprises AI and Small Business: It’s Not Just for Enterprises
Small business is the backbone of the US economy, creating as many as two out of three new jobs each year.... AI and Small Business: It’s Not Just for Enterprises

Small business is the backbone of the US economy, creating as many as two out of three new jobs each year. Corporations get a lot of glory for implementing the latest shiny tech, but implementing AI and small business could make the biggest recipient of the benefit…if only small business would embrace it.

AI is complex, but despite what you may believe about your small business capability, it isn’t too complex for you to adopt. In fact, small businesses will need to process big data not just to stay relevant, but to survive the AI revolution. Here are three reasons why your small business should adopt AI initiatives and one really good reason why you must.

Manual Processes are Killing Productivity

You don’t have the human power to keep up with the workload in most of your departments. Think about it. Your two-person finance team isn’t the full department of a multinational corporation. Your in-house counsel, if you have one at all, is doing the best they can to keep up. Your sales department is just a few people or maybe one single person. Everything you do requires steady human labor from people trying to do the work of entire teams.

Deploying AI can change that. For example, simple chatbots can take a considerable load off your receptionist or customer service rep just by answering the questions customers tend to ask all the time. AI trained in legal can parse complicated legalese in a fraction of the time it would take your single lawyer to work it all out. Your work-heavy CRM updates and repairs itself while your sales team gets back to what they do best, nurturing relationships. Win.

Hiring New Talent is Still Inefficient

You want to grow the business, but that requires hiring new talent. You don’t have the time to go through countless irrelevant resumes or craft a job description that spans a few different departments (small business problems, right?), so you put it off. AI can streamline that process and could soon be an integral part of hiring regardless of the size of your business.

AI can comb through resumes, highlighting ones that deserve the attention of your human team. You can cast a wider net, posting on indeed.com for example, without dealing with the flood of applicants. Once you’ve narrowed it down, you can use AI to help reduce bias in hiring and make better decisions that reduce your turnover and help ensure your candidate is the right one.

All Businesses will be Data-Driven

Big data is here, and avoiding data-driven initiatives is only delaying the inevitable. The good news is that you don’t need a whole team of talent to build your data initiatives. AI is capable of processing those massive amounts of data and creating a solution based on a specific business question may not be as hard as you think. One good data scientist on board, and you’ve got yourself an agile data operation.

AI isn’t magic, and where many small businesses go wrong is thinking it is. AI won’t let you adopt all the things, but when deployed within a specific, measurable business outcome, it could help you make better decisions with harder-hitting results.

For example, you want better forecasting, and AI can use underlying causal factors to improve that accuracy. Right now, you’re using prior outcomes and handling that manually. Causal factors build in a greater return on investment and help you make those key predictions. These predictions are useful irrespective of size with large companies just as bound by those underlying factors as you are. When you both have the data and the processing, you’re on the same playing field.

Why Your Small Business Still Needs AI

More small businesses are saying that AI will be a necessary part of operations than ever before, but many don’t know when or how to begin. ODSC has several resources for businesses trying to make sense of what AI can do, and in some cases, a business needs just a simple question to get started.

Having a plan in place for AI adoption will help ensure you remain competitive, both with your business competitors and with AI itself. AI will change nearly all fields in the coming years, so make sure you’ve got a business model that uses AI to its advantage. You don’t want to be caught redundant, and you certainly don’t want to leave those juicy big data insights on the table. 

Elizabeth Wallace, ODSC

Elizabeth is a Nashville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for startups. She spent 13 years teaching language in higher ed and now helps startups and other organizations explain - clearly - what it is they do. Connect with her on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethawallace/