Why small businesses can’t afford to ignore artificial intelligence

From cloud accounting solutions to marketing automation, Australia’s small businesses are benefiting from the transformative powers of Artificial Intelligence (AI). If your small business is yet to adopt AI you could be missing out.

Modern businesses operate in a sphere where artificial intelligence (AI) is commonplace. It provides time-saving features, personalises marketing campaigns, detects threats and so much more. Today AI has seamlessly integrated its way into everyday life, allowing for frictionless buying experiences, personalised news feeds and intelligent marketing insights.

When your cloud accounting solution automatically categorises your expenses, that’s AI. When your Facebook feed serves up an ad for a dress from your favourite designer, that’s AI. When you use Google analytics to monitor your website’s traffic – that’s AI too.

AI is no longer the domain of big business and corporate enterprise. AI has gotten personal. Consumers interact with AI on a daily basis. They use it to reduce their commute times and filter their emails and now small businesses can leverage AI’s power too.  AI helps you dive deep into data and improve your customer engagement and if you know how to make use of it, it can help you grow and shape your business for the future too.

A 2018 survey by Vistage of small business CEOs found 72 per cent plan to invest in business software and apps in the next year, while over a quarter of them believed AI would have a great impact on the business. In fact, 13 per cent of them are already using AI.

Where business intelligence is predictive – AI is prescriptive. AI can forecast patterns and assist you to deliver sound business strategies.  AI can literally uncover what’s next. And what will happen if you choose to take a particular route. It can help you drive your customer growth through insights garnered from your customer relationship management software to automating your marketing solutions to predicting how much stock you might need to order at a busy time of year.

Getting started with AI in your small business is easy if you are already running a platform like Salesforce. Why? Your data already exists in a program that uses AI to model and provide analytics. Running on a single platform with multiple apps across service, sales and marketing gives you easier access to your data. There are nuggets of gold within this data that can be analysed to provide invaluable actionable information.

Savvy business owners realise the power of AI. It’s like a secret super power that can help you unleash the potential of your business.

Integrating AI across your business processes can reap immediate benefits. You can use AI to automate and monitor your sales pipeline. It can help you track your customer’s behaviour and delivers accurate predictions and qualified leads.

If the customer experience is important to you (and it should be), AI can also assist by providing insight into buyer behaviour. AI can capture signals your sales team might miss, finding correlations and sentiment in customer data. If it seems like a customer is losing faith in your business, you can take proactive steps to turn the relationship around.  When your sales team is scratching their heads over who to target next quarter – AI can help identify the answer.

But don’t think AI is simply the domain of sales, marketing and customer service. You can reap the benefits of AI in all areas of your business, from finance to HR.

A 2018 report from Deloitte on Small Business Imperatives for the Digital Age[1] found only 10 per cent of businesses are utilising the power of AI. This leaves a huge opportunity for early adopters to harness AI to grow their business and leap ahead of their competitors.

So, what is holding them back?

According to Deloitte 39 per cent of small businesses believe their existing systems are good enough, while 31 per cent think the cost of adopting AI is prohibitive. Sixteen per cent are unaware there is a better option, while 14 per cent find new technology is overwhelming.

Yet SMBs that are sceptical of the benefits of new technology should heed this: 94 per cent of businesses that have upgraded to CRM software report an improvement from their previous system. The Deloitte Access Economics Connected Small Business (2017)[2] report found that businesses that are digitally advanced are 50 per cent more likely to grow revenue and earn 60 per cent more revenue per employee than their less digitally advanced counterparts.

It’s clear that adopting AI is a savvy way to give your business an edge. It helps to streamline operations, provides access to customer insights and has the potential to boost sales and revenue. In a competitive marketplace isn’t it time your business jumped on the AI train?

Find out more about how AI can help your small business sell faster and smarter. Take advantage of the same technology as large companies and use Salesforce Essentials to grow your business, provide insights and streamline processes.  Spend less time on manual entry and focus on what matters most: growing your business.

Download the Salesforce Essentials eBook now and get a taste of what the power of Einstein Activity Capture can do for your business.

[1] https://www.salesforce.com/au/form/pdf/small-business-imperatives-for-digital-age

[2] https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/connected-small-businesses-google.html

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Cec is the managing editor of KBB. She is a multimedia professional with over fifteen years experience as an editor on titles as diverse as SX, CULT, Better Pictures, Total Rock, MTV, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has spent the past four years working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Head of Content at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.

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