The pace of business has picked up dramatically over the course of the digital era, intensifying the demands and stresses of the corporate world. It used to be typical for arrangements and actions to take time. After all, people were limited by the technological resources available to them. Fax machines and photocopiers didn’t lend themselves to snap judgments — but the introduction of email changed everything, followed by internet access becoming a utility.
At the same time, though, accessibility has skyrocketed. It’s no longer necessary to have the right background or connections to build vital business relationships, and there’s nothing you’ll take from a business degree that you couldn’t figure out incrementally through online research.
Consider the combined consequences of these developments. More is expected of businesses, and there’s more competition than would have been imaginable at the turn of the millennium. Big brands can throw money at their problems, of course — but what of small businesses? How are they supposed to thrive — or even survive — in such an intense global marketplace?
The answer is efficiency achieved through working smarter instead of harder. You don’t need more money than your nearest rival, or greater talent, or stronger allies. You just need to know how to use your resources economically — and given the sheer potential of modern technology, that’s the field that most warrants your attention.
In this post, we’re going to focus specifically on an area that’s often talked about but less frequently understood: artificial intelligence in business.
Far outside the borderline-magical concept so common in science fiction and fantasy novels, there are many practical applications for tools and systems that use various means to mimic human intelligence.
- Practical applications for artificial intelligence for your business.
- Benefits of artificial intelligence for small businesses.
- How using AI can help your business work smarter.
Artificial intelligence enables complex and convenient workflow automations.
Automated processes were possible before anything counting as AI was ready for mainstream use — think of Excel macros, for instance — but the addition of AI tech has taken them to the next level. Instead of sequences that need to be manually triggered, they can feature dynamic elements that are governed by overarching systems.
Instead of starting a process to migrate a file between drives, for instance, you can have an always-live integration that detects the existence of that file and moves it when appropriate. It’s all about taking work out of your hands. In ideal circumstances, you only need to be involved with the development and maintenance of your automated workflows: everything beyond that is handled for you, with only the occasional glitch to puzzle through.
In the marketing world, this has profound implications for everything from email promotion to paid search advertising. The more you can entrust to your workflows, the more time you and your employees will have to put towards the richly-creative tasks that stand to benefit the most from human attention. That certainly counts as working smarter.
AI minimizes the demand for mission-critical customer support.
Customer support can easily be one of the biggest stressors for a modern business. Given that it’s impractical to hire a fully-scalable support service and because each support assistant can only handle so much at a given time, busy periods inevitably lead to logjams — which in turn lead to intensified customer frustrations and further complaints. And this limits what else you and your team can do while this is happening because your attention must turn towards triage.
Deploying AI-enhanced chatbots that use natural-language processing (NLP) to competently field queries is the way forward. By developing a chatbot that can pick up on typical requests and action those that are suitably simple (requests like seeking order updates, for instance) while escalating complicated issues to support assistants, you can find the ideal balance between manual effort and automation.
You should also think about how you can use NLP tech to bolster your inbound marketing efforts. You can, for instance, use chatbot software to qualify leads without forms: instead of needing prospects to navigate a clunky set of fields, you can allow them to provide their details in a much more natural way and have your software parse it for you. Simple.
Artificial intelligence provides rich insights into competitor sites and strategies.
Part of working smartly involves choosing the right things to work on. After all, there are so many elements of your business that could easily take up your full attention, but you can’t do everything at once. You need to prioritize — but how do you do that effectively? Through software using AI techniques, you can rapidly glean insight into competitor operations.
It’s long been possible to draw upon tools like Ahrefs for SEO analysis, yielding many key results about backlink profiles and domain authority that can steer ranking improvement efforts. What we’re now seeing, though, is the growth of complex AI-enhanced services that can provide intensely customized levels of analysis.
Through the development of machine-learning algorithms that perfectly suit your needs and intentions, you can reach extraordinary conclusions that would have taken months or even years to arrive at manually. That means far less time spent on painstaking research, and far more time put towards finding ways to improve upon what’s being offered elsewhere.
AI works on a 24/7 basis with no need for downtime.
Lastly, there’s an aspect of AI tech that we’ve yet to fully appreciate: its profound scalability and reliability. It’s not realistic to have employees working around the clock — especially for a small business. But in a world where customers can be searching for your business at any hour of the day or night, having set support hours that conform to your time zone can prove very disruptive.
Your automated systems don’t need rest, though. They do what you need them to do. And given the simplicity of today’s AI marketing solutions, they can expand or contract to perfectly meet demand. This can, for instance, ensure that you always have some form of support live. Someone who reaches your website at 3 a.m. will be able to log their query, and perhaps even get an immediate answer.
This ties into the general theme of getting laborious or challenging tasks out of the way so you can address your top-priority tasks with optimal enthusiasm and resource allocation. Now that technology can account for so much of your admin workload, why wouldn’t you want to take full advantage of that?
Test Artificial Intelligence for Your Business
While the forms of artificial intelligence at play in the working world don’t come close to the fantasy notions from the pages of science fiction, they’re still extremely effective at saving you time and effort. And in the ways we’ve covered here, they can certainly help your small business work smarter while saving your time to focus on what’s truly important: serving your customers and growing your business.
About the Author
Antoine Goret joined Crisp as the Head of Sales and Marketing in January 2019. He now leads marketing, sales, and growth strategy. He is regularly writing articles on various blogs, and is a speaker and coach for companies who yearn for inbound.