AI and Machine Learning are Transforming How SMEs Do Business

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JANUARY, 2020

In the shifting sea of business buzzwords, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning currently have a commanding presence. Everywhere you turn these days, it seems like someone is talking about how businesses are leveraging analytics and automation tools to improve their operations and enhance their customer experience.

But with so much focus being placed on the development of sophisticated enterprise-level solutions, there is a common misconception among SMEs that advanced technologies like natural language processing, AI and machine learning are only for big corporations.

The truth is, though, as the use of these technologies slowly, but surely become a business standard, a growing of lineup of companies are offering robust services specifically for SMEs that are powered by AI and machine learning. These platforms and tools come with the features that SMEs need the most as well as a budget-friendly membership or subscription-based pricing.

Here in Ireland, an increasing number of SMEs are starting to adopt these cutting edge technologies. In a recent survey of professionals working in both large companies and SME’s in the IT, Business and Technology sectors, almost forty percent of Irish companies currently use some form of AI technology, and over 50 percent are planning to use AI in the next five years.

Ireland’s national center for Applied Data Analytics & AI, CeADAR, which works to develop and promote the adaption of analytics and AI among businesses, recently made headlines after raising €28m from both public and private sources. This funding will help CeADAR expand its operations in order to meet the growing demand among Irish SMEs to integrate and implement AI technologies into their operations.

4 Machine Learning and AI Applications for SMEs

With the increasing presence of AI and machine learning under the hood of many business services, SMEs today now have more tools at their disposal to help them stay competitive in this challenging business environment. Here are some of the current ways SMEs are already using AI and machine learning technology:

1. Transforming marketing and sales. Many SMEs are now using online marketing solutions enabled by machine learning and AI. These platforms allow them to make their marketing campaigns more efficient and create personalized customer experiences. For example, a number of website personalitzation tools can create customer profiles based on qualities such as site behavior, purchase history, demographics, and location, and then serve these individuals personalized content, product recommendations, site notifications, and emails.

2. Improving the customer service and customer experience. Another extremely beneficial and budget-friendly area where automation is making an impact for SMEs is in customer service. Automated chatbots, digital assistants and AI-powered ticketing can reduce customer service workload and provide a more enjoyable experience for customers looking for assistance.

3. Enhancing hiring and employee retention. Recruitment and retention are big obligations that can strain smaller resource-conscious companies. Nowadays, smart Human Resources platforms can help to reduce repetitive tasks and speed up functions that generally take a lot of manual effort and are prone to human error. AI-enabled applicant tracking systems can also significantly reduce the amount of labor needed in the recruitment process by scanning resumes in search of relevant qualities, skills or experiences, managing interview scheduling, and even communicating with applicants. These solutions can additionally help to reduce the bias in the recruitment process.

4. Make Better business decisions. SMEs can tap into AI and machine learning to improve decision making and processes in their day-to-day operations, such as project and inventory management. Many smart platforms can monitor performance, recognize errors, redundancies, and stop gaps and then both report their findings and make improvement recommendations. Some autonomous solutions can also take action to fix the situation independently.

In short, don’t let your misconceptions stop you from understanding the ways in which technologies such as AI and machine learning, can help your business. With a bit of research, planning, and preparation, you can access the automated tools you need to run your business with today’s realities in mind.

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