Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer strictly a thing of science fiction. There are types of artificial intelligence all over the tech space: chatbots, voice search, digital ad targeting, speech and facial recognition, and more. You may already be using some of these types of AI either in life or within your business. But as AI starts to grow and become more and more prevalent, does it make sense for a small business to adopt this type of technology?
We want to explore AI and the uses it can have to benefit your business. But every type of new tech has both pros and cons, so we think it's a good idea to first talk about what those are when it comes to AI. This information may be helpful in making decisions about whether the investment is worthwhile.
We decided to begin our list with some of the potential cons related to investing in AI. The bottom line is, AI is here and it's not going away. AI deployments are increasingly becoming an expected aspect of business growth. And although your business may not be ready to make a huge investment in AI technology, AI cannot be ignored.
Potential Cons (keep in mind, for every negative, there are also some positives to consider):
1. AI isn't new, but it still has growing pains.
When something is new, it's rarely perfect. In fact, it more often than not has a variety of different issues that arise over and over again. With AI applications, they are still being tested and refined. While they're no longer babies, they're still learning.
Of course, all new tech has to be tested and refined multiple times when it's in its infancy, but that can mean higher overhead for a business that is interested in adopting whatever new tech has just come out.
And when you have a small business with a limited budget, costly tech repairs are not high on the priority list. That said, it is wise to stick with the types of AI that have already proven their worth, such as chatbots.
2. AI requires a human specialist.
Although AI has been around for a while, and many marketers have become educated and qualified to develop the technology and really know how to test it and how to fix it, AI still needs a human touch. Human emotions, feelings, and idiosyncratic opinions require a human to read the deeper meaning. Depending on the tech you are exploring, AI specialists can be costly. So if you need to hire a specialist to help your business with its AI, you may have higher costs.
However, innovative technology that incorporates AI and machine learning, including virtual agents and decision management systems, can help your business streamline processes and ultimately, save you money. Factor in the overall ROI when making decisions about AI.
3. AI likely isn't always necessary for your small business objectives.
Before investing in AI, it's important to consider the value and advantages it will offer your business. Just like the shiny new smartphone or laptop, we all want the newest tech thing to show our friends. We feel like it elevates us to have the latest and greatest. And we feel that same way in our businesses.
But it's important not to get distracted by all the shiny new objects in your business and focus on what's actually going to help you get the job done. The reality is, an AI application could have some really cool features for your business. But before you invest in AI, carefully consider whether it will help you create a new revenue stream, increase leads, or exponentially increase growth and scale your business. If not, now may not be the right time to make that investment.
Okay - it's time to talk about the pros of adopting AI:
4. AI can transform your business.
Look, we said we were going to talk pros and cons, right? Cons of AI: they can be expensive. Pros? They can seriously transform and grow your business. You just have to decide if they can do enough for your business to front the costs.
Not every AI is going to break the bank. Some minor versions are included within the software and products you already use. It may be an upgrade or it may come with the version you're already using.
But AI can help your business in a lot of ways: it can help your salespeople to close more deals, it can help you to create better digital advertising, it can improve employee engagement, and it can help you find your product market faster.
How can AI manage all of these different things?
- Close more deals: There are types of AI that can record and automatically transcribe the calls your sales team makes. Your management team can then go over those calls to find where your sales team needs to improve. Better yet, they can look at the calls of your most successful salespeople and teach the strategies they use to the rest of the sales team so you're all on the same page.
- Better digital ads: Use this AI for free! Facebook advertising actually has an AI that can take a look at an audience based on a pixel placed on your website and then create a lookalike audience for targeting. So you're basically using a sample of people who have visited your website and are obviously interested in your product or service and creating a larger potential audience to introduce to your business.
- Improve employee engagement: If you struggle with keeping your employees engaged in their day-to-day job, there are AI solutions that can help with this. For example, your business could invest in an internal chatbot that gives your employees 24/7 access to HR.
- Find your product market: If you have no idea where your product fits into your market, you don't really have a business. At least, not a successful one. So utilizing an AI to help you find your market can be extremely helpful. There are AIs and software available that can collect data on your customers, analyze it, and find patterns amongst the people who have purchased from you. Having this information can help you pinpoint your target audience.
Artificial Intelligence can be both rewarding and trying for your small business. And not every AI is created equal. There are some versions that are huge beasts and are meant for corporate giants like Amazon. But there are others that can be scaled down for small business use. It's true that AI can be costly, but it's also true that AI can help your business enjoy growth and increased success. Always be sure it's something that will only have a positive ROI, and you can absolutely transform your business with AI.
Curious about what other tech and software out there can help your business? Contact us to chat about software, digital marketing, and more.
Written By: David Carpenter