8 Ways SMBs Can Leverage The Power of AI
Business Journals Leadership Trust is an invite-only network of influential business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in the community.
VoDaVi COO, Chris Friel, and other members of the Boston Business Journal Leadership Trust community shared their thoughts in this Expert Panel on how small-business owners can save money and increase productivity while automating processes by taking advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Read the full Expert Panel below.
Small-business owners are always looking for money-saving and productivity hacks, and there’s no doubt automating processes via artificial intelligence can help. However, it can be challenging to implement AI technologies without an existing store of data or in-house programmers to walk you through the process.
Still, there are ways small businesses can harness the power of AI, even with limited resources. Below, eight members of Business Journals Leadership Trust detail cost-effective strategies for taking advantage of artificial intelligence.
1. Speak with a digital transformation consultant. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have become affordable for even the smallest business. Customized chatbots and automated data evaluation are easy to implement through cloud services. Hire an experienced digital transformation consultant. They will learn how your business works and show you how technology can improve it. The process may yield savings, or it may expose income streams you hadn’t considered. – Ryan Williams, The Websuasion Group LLC 2. Try Zapier. Zapier is a fantastic way to take advantage of automation without needing any code. It connects various tools and lets you build simple workflows to accomplish tasks. The folks over at BotList also keep track of some great options for business leaders who want to get a little deeper into automation and AI. – Wes Jackson, Three Wire Systems 3. Check out what comes with different core company software packages. Select a core company software, such as Microsoft 365, Azure Active Directory or your HRIS, and look at two things. First, what software already comes with what you’re paying for? Second, what other third-party integrations are available? Then, map out your business needs and see where each software fits to run your business efficiently, automatically and purposefully. It makes a huge difference in work. – Sherine Khalil, Valor Compounding Pharmacy
4. Start by filling in gaps. Previously considered a luxury, artificial intelligence has become a practical necessity for most business models today due to the pandemic. Small-business owners can begin to use AI through “gap-filling.” Wherever there is a need in the business, attempt to fill it with AI. This has the potential to produce a measurable ROI for small businesses. – Chris Friel, VoDaVi Technologies 5. Take a look at prepackaged solutions. Although small-business owners may not have the luxury of big data, there are a plethora of prepackaged AI automation solutions that can add efficiency and productivity to small companies. Though these solutions may not be soup to nuts, they can make a big difference in cost analysis for smaller operators. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
6. Leverage the low-code approach. Several large technology companies are taking a no-code or low-code approach to their modern business applications. For business owners looking to automate processes or incorporate AI, select one of these companies whose services can be integrated with your current IT infrastructure. Consider a technology that has peer user groups for learning and support, and check YouTube for free educational videos. – Matthew Halle, Lead2Growth
7. Explore your existing software’s BI tools. Many software vendors are now incorporating business intelligence tools into their product offerings. For example, if you use Office 365, there are out-of-the-box reports you can run to see how effectively those in your organization are working. Reach out to your technology partner to understand what else the tools you already use have to offer. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology
8. Incorporate AI into your customer service operations. In the current pandemic ecosystems, the biggest need from the consumer’s perspective is knowing the status of an order or getting help when they need it. Where possible, use an AI-enabled provider that can minimize human assets to immediately address customer needs. There’s nothing worse for a business than an unsatisfied customer. – Gene Yoo, Resecurity, Inc.
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