From Chatbots to Decision-Making: Discover 5 Ways Artificial Intelligence (AI) Can Optimize Your Small Business
Small But Mighty…and Getting Plugged In
Making up well over 90% of businesses in the United States, small businesses are the lifeblood of the global economy. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, small companies can improve their profitability and growth, and many – including myself – argue that they in fact will have to do so if they plan on surviving through the next few years.
AI-powered tools can automate routine tasks, provide better customer service, enhance decision-making, and boost sales and marketing efforts. Companies taking advantage of the recent onslaught of high-tech tools that are flooding the market will increase their chances of remaining competitive and resilient through the massive changes that technology will continue to bring to organizations.
In this article, we will discuss how AI tools such as ChatGPT can help small businesses grow and succeed in some five operational areas: customer service, productivity, sales and marketing, cybersecurity, and supply chain management. Please keep in mind that this is just a very very small fraction of the artificial intelligence tools available to businesses today, and new ones are being introduced daily. If you have any questions about the tools listed below, or want to find out about alternatives, please reach out to us. Helping businesses understand the breadth and capabilities of these kind of tools is one of our core services.
1. Optimizing Customer Service with Artificial Intelligence
Customers are the heart of any business, and providing excellent customer service is essential for small businesses to build strong relationships with their customers. AI-powered chatbots can provide 24/7 customer support, personalize interactions, and provide instant responses to customer queries. AI tools that can help small businesses improve customer service include:
DigitalGenius: Use AI to automatically understand your customers’ needs and resolve their queries faster – improving your customer experience while reducing your costs.
EchoWin: Call management system simplifies your work by handling customer questions, business tasks, and connections for you.
Intercom: A customer messaging platform that uses AI to automate customer support tasks, provide personalized support, and analyze customer interactions.
Helpshift: Customer support platform that uses chatbots to help businesses provide instant support and handle more customer inquiries.
LivePerson: Conversational commerce platform that helps small businesses engage with customers through chatbots, messaging, and voice.
2. More Efficient Decision-Making & Productivity
Small businesses often struggle with managing their day-to-day operations efficiently, but with AI, they can automate tasks, streamline processes, and improve overall efficiency. For example, time tracking management can be a tedious and time-consuming task, but with artificial intelligence, small businesses can accomplish this pretty much passively and thoroughly in the background of their more important priorities. AI tools that can help with overall efficiency and decision-making include:
Zoho Zia: AI-powered assistant for your business. Whether you’re collecting customer data, writing a document, or just looking for some sales numbers, Zia works hard to make your job easy.
Rationale: Enter a pending decision or indecisive options, and Rationale’s latest GPT and in-context learning algorithms will list pros and cons, generate a SWOT analysis, conduct multi-criteria analysis or causal analysis to help you weigh your options.
Rewind: Find anything you have seen, said, or heard on your computer.
Timely: AI-powered automatic time tracker. Forget timers, note taking and manual input. Timely can track time spent in every web and desktop app automatically for you. Get a precise daily record of all the time your team spends in documents, meetings, emails, websites and video calls with zero effort.
3. Sales & Marketing Tools
This category is kind of a doozy. I would say that a solid 80% of the AI tools rushing to market and impacting small business operations are in this category. The list of tools is already very long and getting even longer every day.
Here is just a very small sample of AI tools that can help with marketing and sales – reach out if you’d like to learn more:
IGLeads: Discover new business opportunities and reach every buyer on earth with Google’s public database at your fingertips. Target potential clients using hashtags and keywords, and close more deals.
Taplio: Create better LinkedIn content, schedule your posts at the right time, build new relationships and monitor all your results.
AdCreative: Generate conversion focused ad creatives and social media post creatives in a matter of seconds using Artificial Intelligence. Get better results while saving time.
Runway: Runway is a new kind of creative suite. One where AI is a collaborator and anything you can imagine can be created. This one is really amazing!
4. Artificial Intelligence Improving Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is a growing concern for small businesses, especially as cyberattack threats become more sophisticated. AI-powered cybersecurity tools can help small businesses detect and prevent cyberthreats, protect sensitive data, and ensure compliance with data privacy regulations. AI-powered cybersecurity tools use machine learning algorithms to identify potential cyber threats and take action to prevent them. Here is a thorough article from McAfee explaining the ins and outs of AI and cybersecurity. Tools that can help with cybersecurity include:
DarkTrace: This AI-based tool doesn’t just learn your organization, inside and out, down to the smallest digital details. It actually understands what’s normal to identify what’s not, which makes it incredibly effective at dealing with and even preventing the most sophisticated cyber-attacks.
Palo Alto Networks: A cybersecurity platform that uses machine learning to detect and respond to cyber threats in real-time.
Barracuda Networks: An AI-powered cybersecurity tool that helps small businesses detect and prevent cyber attacks, including phishing and ransomware attacks.
5. More Efficient Supply Chain Management
Small businesses often struggle with managing their supply chain, but with artificial intelligence, they can automate supply chain tasks, optimize inventory levels, and reduce costs. These tools use machine learning algorithms to analyze data from various sources, including suppliers, inventory systems, and customer orders. AI tools that can help with supply chain management include:
e2open: With the e2open SaaS platform, you can anticipate disruptions and predict opportunities to help your business improve efficiency, drive profitability, reduce waste, and operate sustainably.
ConverSight: ConverSight’s platform is specifically designed to help optimize inventory, achieve visibility, and build a resilient, AI-driven supply chain that can predict, adapt, and thrive through any disruption.
Blue Yonder: Blue Yonder’s Luminate® Commerce solutions help provide seamless experiences online and in-stores from click to deliver/collect, by unifying inventory, order promising, order management, and omni-fulfillment to deliver the right product, at the right time, through your consumer’s channel of choice.
SAP Ariba: An AI-powered procurement software that helps small businesses automate procurement tasks, manage suppliers, and reduce costs.
Small businesses can leverage the power of AI to improve their customer service, efficiency, marketing and sales, decision-making, and cybersecurity. By leveraging one or more of the countless AI tools flooding the market, small businesses can compete more effectively against established brands, increase profitability, and achieve sustainable growth.
In fact, due to the exponential rate of technological change, and more importantly, the extent to which it will continue to impact the way businesses operate, I strongly believe that small and medium sized companies that don’t embrace and leverage artificial intelligence simply won’t survive through the next few years.
Regardless of whether you “like” that or not, or agree with it or not, the writing is on the wall, and it favors tech-embracing businesses. Like so many wise people have said in the past…”if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”
The Future-Proof Business helps small businesses become future-proof by showing them how to anticipate and pivot around the trends that will impact their competitiveness in the future, and then implement the tools and technologies that will ensure their long-term profitability. Visit our Consulting page to learn more, or contact us so we can explore how your business may benefit from the rapid advances in technology.
Marina von Bergen, MAM, ACC
My 23+ year career as a consultant, leadership development expert and executive coach in large global firms shifted in 2020 when I felt compelled to focus on consulting and coaching small to medium sized businesses that were negatively impacted by the pandemic. Since then, I have continued pursing my passion of helping small businesses and their leaders become future-proof by leveraging best-in-class trends, technologies, and tools. My official, professional expertise lies in consulting and coaching leaders in areas of change management, human capital, communications, emotional intelligence, and leadership development. I have helped organizations and leaders all around the globe, in many industries, and from countless walks of life. Visit The Future-Proof Business to learn more.