How AI Helps Small and Midsize Businesses

How AI Helps Small and Midsize Businesses

By on May 23, 2024 in Artificial Intelligence, IT Consulting

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere in the media nowadays, and businesses across Ohio feel pressure to adopt it now or risk falling behind. But what exactly is AI? Is it advanced automation? Is it ChatGPT? Is it that robot from the Will Smith movie that’s going to take our jobs and possibly enslave us all? It’s none of those things!

Here’s a simple guide to all the emerging AI tools, how they’re going to affect your business, and how you can start to navigate the exciting and confusing world of business AI. Let’s get started!

What is Reactive Machine Artificial Intelligence?

These are simple AI systems that are programmed with specific rules and instructions, making them great at streamlining repetitive tasks. These models tend to react quickly and consistently, always giving the same output to a particular input. However, there’s a catch though, they don’t have memory.

So, while they’re great at basic tasks, they can’t adapt or learn from past experiences, which limits their utility.

Here are some of the common ways that businesses use this type of AI.

Customer Service Chatbots
Over the years, simple chatbots have become increasingly popular. With improvements in natural language processing technology, these bots are now much better at understanding and assisting with navigating knowledge bases and self-service options. They can handle frequently asked questions, guide users through troubleshooting steps, and provide information about products and services.

Imagine asking about your order status—a chatbot can quickly access the order system and give you a real-time update or answer questions about return policies. This speedy response cuts down wait times and delivers quick, accurate information.

Research by Tidio shows that 22% of micro-businesses, 20% of small businesses, and 11% of medium businesses are already using chatbots. While users might still prefer human interaction for more complex issues, chatbots play a crucial role by providing basic information swiftly, allowing businesses to cut costs and free up human staff for more advanced problems.

Data Correction:
It’s true that businesses of all sizes have access to more data than ever before. However, for businesses that want to make use of that data, finding, and correcting irregularities is a tedious, cumbersome process.

As data sets keep getting larger, the challenge keeps growing in scale. There are severe financial costs associated with tackling poor data quality at scale. That’s where AI-powered data correction tools step in; they can scan vast datasets to identify anomalies like duplicate records, missing values, or inconsistent formats and correct them.

There are several of these tools like Google’s Cloud Dataprep or IBM’s InfoSphere QualityStage that employ AI to automate data cleansing processes, ensuring that businesses can have accurate and reliable data at hand. While that level of data science is probably too advanced for small businesses now, as companies grow and these technologies mature, we’re certain you’ll see this type of AI workflow become more mainstream.

What Are Limited Memory AI Models?

Unlike simple reactive AI, which can only follow a set of instructions, limited memory AI systems can remember and use past data to make better decisions and predictions. These models not only learn from historical data, but also improve performance over time, which opens many new possibilities for business applications.

With these AI systems, businesses can analyze patterns, make stronger predictions and forecasts, and perform better advanced functions, such as risk management or personalizing marketing.

When most people think of AI, they’re probably thinking about some form of machine learning model that they use in their daily lives. Be it a large-language model like ChatGPT or the spam filters in their mail, these tools analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns and make predictions. Machine learning models are highly skilled at recognizing patterns and predicting future elements. They do this by building a complex web of connections between data points.

  • Large Language Models (LLMs)
    One of the most transformative systems and talked about elements of this new age AI wave are the Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT and Bard. These LLMs, such as ChatGPT, are advanced AI systems capable of understanding and generating human language. Today, you can widely see them used in chatbots and virtual assistants to perform tasks such as customer support, content creation, and virtual assistance. They’re significantly improving the user experience while reducing costs.
  • Recommendation Systems
    Being able to understand and predict your users’ needs or preferences is invaluable for every business. Earlier, these valuable customer insights were out of reach for SMEs and were available only to larger businesses with access to complex machine learning algorithms. However, with AI-based tools being more accessible, the landscape has shifted. Smaller businesses can now leverage users’ past behaviors and preferences to suggest products, services, or content in which they are likelier to be interested. This personalized approach increases sales, customer engagement and gives them an edge in the market.
  • Spam Filters and Cybersecurity
    Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often prime targets for cyberattacks due to their perceived vulnerability. Hackers often think of smaller businesses as low-hanging fruit because they can contain valuable financial or customer data without the robust security companies that larger companies employ.In the face of these growing hostilities, AI is helping smaller companies maintain vigilance and tackle threats. Be it identifying patterns in email data to block unwanted messages or detecting potentially malicious traffic. These systems continuously learn from new data, improving their accuracy over time in preventing cyberattacks and safeguarding sensitive information.
  • Fraud Detection
    AI can help businesses stem fraud losses, especially in e-commerce and financial transactions. With a keen eye on transaction data, delving into amounts, timestamps, and even user behaviors, fraud detection AI systems can swiftly spot any irregularities that hint at suspicious patterns. This real-time analysis allows businesses to neutralize potential issues and nip them in the bud. Even as fraudsters develop new tactics, these AI tools continuously learn and adapt, helping SMEs stay one step ahead of evolving threats.
  • Predictive Maintenance
    Unforeseen maintenance issues can disrupt operations, especially for manufacturing businesses or those reliant on OT equipment. By analyzing data from sensors and historical maintenance records, AI can forecast when a machine is likely to need servicing or predict equipment failures before they occur. Being proactive makes all the difference—it reduces downtime, extends equipment lifespan, and lowers maintenance costs. Tools such as IBM’s Predictive Maintenance and Quality are commonly used in industries such as manufacturing and transportation to optimize maintenance schedules and improve operational efficiency.

AI is not a distant technology future that you need to spend millions of dollars or hire expensive consultants to exploit. In fact, many businesses will be surprised to learn that they’re already using AI; it’s just buried inside some of their favorite applications from Google, Microsoft, and others.

Need Help Staying Ahead of AI and Other Technology Trends?

The Astute Technology Management team has been helping businesses in Columbus and Cincinnati plan IT strategies that keep them ahead of the technology curve and competition for over 20 years. If you’d like to make the most of your technology budget and become an early adopter of AI in your market, contact us anytime at [email protected] or 614 389 4102. We look forward to speaking with you!