AI Business Solutions – Why Small Businesses Should Start Using These Tools

What AI solutions are currently available for small businesses? Are the challenges of integrating AI in a small business justified by the benefits? Here are a few use cases that will have small business owners adding AI solutions to their next IT meeting agenda.

Artificial Intelligence has experienced a meteoric rise in just the last 12 months. At first, many potential users viewed it as a curiosity, a cool toy with little utility in the real world. Now, more and more people are realizing that even in its developing form, AI is more than just making pictures from word prompts. 

It’s become an accessible and useful business tool. Even big tech companies like Google, which were caught on the back foot, are now rapidly working on their AI offerings. 

While it’s mainly been big businesses that have had the resources to deploy AI solutions in their organizations, there are some great small business AI solutions, too. 

How Can AI Help Small Businesses?

Before considering specific examples, it might be best to outline the broad reasons why small business owners should look for opportunities to integrate AI into their operations. 

Small businesses have challenges that are often felt more acutely than they are in larger organizations. Resources like staff, cash flow, and in-house skills need to be carefully managed to balance execution and profitability.

Leveraging AI tools can free up human resources and reduce the need for investing in developing in-house capabilities or even the need to outsource them. 

Managers and employees in small companies often have to perform a broad range of tasks beyond the narrow scope of their employment contracts. 

Sally may be Head of Sales, but she has to do more than speak to potential clients. She has to be a copywriter for emails that convert. She has to be a graphic designer to put together artwork for an ad. Similarly, John’s title may be Product Specialist, but he often has to field simple customer support queries that he’s answered a hundred times before. 

AI apps and tools can perform a lot of these functions. Or they can help staff to do them faster and better without having to learn specialized skills. 

The four main benefits of deploying AI tools in small businesses are:

  • Increased efficiency – Do more in less time, with fewer human resources.
  • Reduced operations cost – Reduce headcount and outsourcing costs.
  • Improve customer experience – Faster, detailed, accurate responses to customer queries.
  • Improved accuracy – Make better data-driven business decisions.

Here are some specific examples of ways small businesses can use AI tools to achieve this.

Small Business AI Solutions

Marketing

Creating marketing material that converts and knowing which audience to direct it to can be challenging. Outsourcing marketing operations can get really expensive, too. Various AI tools can do a lot of the heavy lifting for your marketing efforts.

Automated Emails and Newsletters

AI can use content from online resources related to your business and compile a newsletter targeted at people in your email list. It can monitor email open rates and learn the interests of individual customers. Eventually, it will learn what to include and how to structure emails so that individual customers are more likely to click on the calls to action.

Creatives and Copy

Coming up with ad creatives for print or social media is often the first thing small businesses outsource. The alternative is often to have an employee with basic Canva skills give it a try. 

AI tools like Ad Creative and Smartly.io can create multiple ad creatives, headlines, and ad copy in seconds. AI tools like these can also monitor ad performance and tweak the images and copy to improve performance.

Predict Ad Performance

Businesses will often run an ad campaign for a period and then evaluate the return on ad spend to see if it’s worth continuing. AI tools can evaluate an ad and predict its performance. These apps can even suggest images and ad copy that would improve the performance of the ad with a specific audience. 

Document Management

Even in the age of AI, it seems businesses can’t completely escape paperwork. Some companies still have to process hard copies of documents. That means someone needs to read the document and translate the important information into a digitally useful form.

Sales orders, invoices, or credit notes that are received digitally often need processing before they can be useful for analysis or action. AI apps that use a combination of Image Recognition, OCR (Optical Character Recognition), and Machine Learning can solve this tedious problem. 

Once a document (paper, PDF, XML, etc.) is received, the image recognition and OCR extract the data. Based on a set of rules, this information is then characterized and integrated into the business’ IT system.

With a little training, the Machine Learning algorithms get better at identifying the kind of data in the document with a high degree of confidence. Whether it’s a table of data, a sales order, or an email, the data can be extracted, classified, and sent off to your ERP or CRM systems without any human intervention.

Data Analysis

Small businesses often have large amounts of data built up over years of operating but no means to extract useful, actionable information from it. From analyzing product reviews to segmenting customers, AI can sift through big data and deliver key insights that can influence important business decisions.

Market and industry information overload can be overwhelming. Keeping up with what just one competing business is doing can be a full-time job. AI tools can track competitors online and provide feedback on their strategy, marketing, pricing, and other useful info.

Customer Support

Chatbots are probably the first interaction most people have had with AI. In their infancy, chatbots were annoying and could only answer very specific queries. NLP, or Natural Language Processing, has changed all that. Now, even complicated questions elicit accurate and tailored responses. 

Today AI-driven chatbots can often answer up to 80% of customer queries. That means happier customers and less human resource interaction is required.

How To Choose AI Solutions For Small Business

Getting started with implementing AI can be overwhelming at first. Some great AI business solutions will work well for one business but not for another. How can small business owners choose the best AI app for their business?

The use cases above offer only the tiniest glimpse into the leverage AI tools can deliver in a small business. The rapidly evolving AI space results in new tools being added every day.

While it isn’t necessary for small business owners to become AI experts, some research will be required. Using free resources like those at Topapps.io can give small business owners a better idea of the AI tools that could work best in their business.

Conclusion

Implementing any new piece of technology into an established business, even a small one, takes time and effort. In the 20th century, businesses that were early adopters of fax machines, printers, and the Internet gained a significant advantage over their competitors. In the 21st century, businesses that learn to leverage AI tools early on will be the ones that will succeed.