There is no denying that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is influencing every part of the tech industry. This science has built smart machines able to perform tasks that are usually human knowledge-driven. Because of this advancement in Artificial Intelligence technology, we have seen the rise of Machine Learning innovation that uses AI to learn specific tasks with minimal input. No wonder that AI and Machine Learning have migrated out of research laboratories even into the business sector.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have led top industries to invest in research and development to take advantage of the benefits these technologies bring that is already transforming industries globally. But how would all of that translate to your small business?
Defining AI and Machine Learning
We need to know what is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning before delving into the impact they bring.
Oxford Dictionary gives this AI definition, “the development of computer systems able to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
Machine Learning is “an application of AI that provides systems with the ability to learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed automatically. Machine Learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it to learn for themselves,” according to expertsystems.com. While AI focuses on computer systems that try to replicate skills that humans can do, Machine Learning processes large quantities of data, recognizing different patterns to develop algorithms. These two definitions give a clear picture that the process of learning for AI and Machine Learning is continuous and progressive.
Text-to-speech apps, for instance, uses AI and machine learning to enable hands-free operations, boost writing speed, increase mobility, heighten security, improve writing voice and writing abilities. This innovation is gaining popularity especially with writers and content developers. AI and Machine Learning is transforming our modern world through leaps and bounds.
Are AI and Machine Learning a Threat or a Benefit?
For large enterprises and small businesses, AI and Machine Learning will impact how people work, how businesses serve their consumers, and how companies relate to one another. With AI capabilities, companies can now perform tasks faster and, coupled with Machine Learning, continue to improve the quality and accuracy of results. AI helps develop more productive and profitable business models, test abstract designs and reduce costs in manual labor. However, despite these benefits, there are habits and practices in business that are resistant to change, which can be a hindrance to the technology adoption of AI and Machine Learning. In small companies, this resistance is much more evident.
A rule-based business environment, which has been the norm, is easily measured, documented, and maintained by human analysts, which gets complicated over time and is prone to human error. Businesses need precise computing for better decision-making and process efficiency, and Machine Learning and AI can highly provide this.
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AI and Machine Learning, therefore, will be a big help to industries that adopt and integrate them into their systems. They are not meant to replace human analysts but augment their capacity to interpret and process data faster and accurately. Small businesses need to foresee the great rewards in terms of profitability and efficiency for their business so they can welcome these modern tools and strategically tackle changes around the assimilation and integration of both technologies.
Challenges in AI and Machine Learning Integration
An initial task that small businesses will have to face in AI and Machine Learning integration is to prepare their business beforehand. They will need additional capital investment for development costs, which may be a bit jarring amount for small enterprises. While it’s very likely for prices to be more and more affordable in the years to come, current projected costs for integration is around $100,000 to $300,000 depending on complexity, size, and customer requirements. Most of the development costs actually come from producing MVPs (Minimum Viable Product) for market research and product development.
Machine Learning technology, using Artificial Intelligence, continuously learns from given data to produce algorithms that need to be followed by the machines. People do not easily understand these algorithms because of the massive array of numbers and algorithms they will provide. One of the ways that attempt to make the data understandable is through the XAI (eXplainable AI) initiative. Machine Learning is reliant on real business examples, practices and data to be able to train an equation or algorithm in a specific way. For small businesses, there may be some resistance to AI automation and Machine Learning due to trust issues and would demand more manual control over their business.
Technology adoption will also need to be implemented in different phases, and so it can be a challenge to businesses because they would not only have to outsource additional funding, but also repurpose a portion of company time and laborers for training and implementation at each phase. From research and development, to implementation and evaluation of prototypes, feedback gathering of MVPs, and actual product release.
In the long run, despite these challenges, businesses are quickly migrating into AI-driven and Machine Learning-enabled systems because of the promise it brings in terms of dominance in their respective industries. The changes bound to happen in business environments due to AI and Machine Learning will inevitably transform the current work inertia in the industry. Eventually, to keep up with our ever-modernizing world, businesses from large enterprises, to SMEs (small and medium enterprises), and even microenterprises will need to incorporate AI and Machine Learning in varying degrees.
How AI and Machine Learning Can Impact Small Businesses
Listed below are some major impacts AI and Machine Learning would provide for your small businesses. This list is not comprehensive but would present a better understanding of how AI and Machine Learning would help you.
Accurate Digital Decision Making
As the number of data increases along with the acceleration of the speed of Machine Learning, digital decision-making will overcome manual decisions. The application of AI and Machine Learning on small businesses will produce a workbench that would guide in making timely and accurate decision-making. As the digital ecosystem grows for Learning, the efficient path will open up the framework for a better decision.
Improve HR and Recruitment
Small businesses usually have no HR department or personnel, and the bulk of human resources work can be overwhelming for business owners. AI and Machine Learning can come into action to augment this need. HR technology has improved greatly with the help of these technologies to reduce repetitive tasks, speed up operations, and lessen manual work. AI-enabled applicant tracking systems help you develop job searches, browse through resumes, harvest the right range of top candidates quickly and easily, and even conduct initial interviews remotely without human involvement. All of this eliminates bottlenecks in the recruitment process and ensures an unbiased, objective, and equal-opportunity selection system.
Regarding a mixed workforce, AI can give HR more options to connect with their employees and handle concerns or complaints.
Microchips in smartphones will have AI built and developed directly into their hardware. These high-performing processors give consumers will give end-users real-time abilities like improved speech recognition and translation. These features help your business become globally competitive and accessible. Having AI and Machine Learning will increase revenue sources for your small businesses through the development and exploitation of apps to support and grow your business. Make sure that your site and business visibility is optimized to the growing trends available in the emerging market.
The customer experience (CX) is an essential part of any business, regardless of size. AI and Machine Learning are expected to change customer support in the following years. AI-powered software will include sentiment analysis technology which will significantly help in responding more effectively to customer concerns. AI and Machine Learning will also be able to handle complaints and queries effectively as these are mostly script-driven. Incorporated into these are software for live chat (chatbot technology) which will help give quick and accurate answers as well as build greater engagement with your target market. With AI and Machine Learning gaining predictable insight due to the amount of data it has learned from, upselling of your other products and services can also be automated.
Cybersecurity is the primary concern for all types of businesses. Remember that those who wish to harm your business and your consumer will be using AI and Machine Learning too. There had been a lot of data breaches that involved consumer data. Cyberattacks have become smart and more sophisticated in their approach. With proper AI and Machine Learning, fraud will be detected because both these technologies can track behaviors consistent with fraud. As AI and Machine Learning learn over time, software and apps can self-adjust and learn from the current situation and act accordingly to defend systems. Integrating AI into your small business is essential to safeguard consumer data as AI can even identify vulnerabilities in your business network defenses. Machine Learning would then interpret the complexity of the information and algorithms, so that better defense strategies are implemented. Better security in your business will increase your trust rating with the consumers and the industry you serve.
AI and Machine Learning are meant to improve and strengthen what has been established so far. There may be a need for changes, big and small, in different industries. AI and Machine Learning were not meant to replace, but rather it was meant to elevate the way things are done in a small business. A worker in your business may be scheduled to be “replaced” by AI and Machine Learning but it is an opportunity for the said worker to re-tool and re-equip oneself for the new age ahead. A manager that handles inventory will most likely need to learn coding and programming to be able to keep us with how AI and Machine Learning are running things. A nurse in a small clinic may need to have the expertise of an electrical engineer to be able to operate different machines that would be beneficial in the medical field. As early as now, let us learn to adapt to the new ways that things are being done or will be implemented in our small businesses.