How to Leverage Machine Learning & AI for Small Business

How to Leverage Machine Learning & AI for Small Business

Gero Keil

·

Co-Founder & CEO

November 16, 2022
Divider

For most people, the terms "Artificial Intelligence" and "Machine Learning" invoke grand visions of IBM’s Watson or Google’s DeepMind being run by busy teams of data scientists and engineers. For smaller companies, a question is whether those terms will remain buzzwords or become key to daily business operations.

An inconvenient truth

Research firm MarketsandMarkets has predicted that the Machine Learning market will grow to $8.81 billion by 2022, scaling exponentially while reshaping the global economy. However, most companies – regardless of their size – spend way more time talking and thinking about AI rather than doing something valuable with it. And who could blame them? It’s new, it’s mysterious and it’s desirable.

In many areas, algorithms and models that minimize human intervention are the best way forward to improve profitability and/or withstand competition.

However, even as the revolutionary potential of AI materializes, decision-makers at small and medium-sized businesses are still struggling to fit it into their vision for value creation. In most cases, slow adoption is falsely attributed to the technical side alone – something that indeed is exclusive to companies that can afford expensive teams of data scientists and engineers.

The aspect which is discussed less frequently is that (re-)designing processes with and around AI does not come natural to most people: We are not used to looking at problems through the eyes of a machine – even though we often perform tasks in a machine-like manner. But this is good news because the solution is not tied to company size.

Let's look at both issues one by one.

Democratization of AI technology

According to a report by MMC, AI now plays a key role in the products or services of one in 12 European startups. Many of these companies are working towards making AI accessible to a larger audience, leading to a democratization of the technology surrounding it. Hence, highly Intelligent Process Automation is becoming a reality across a wide range of use cases.

We believe that the most fundamental shift comes through a further aspect: Decoupling AI from the necessity to write programs, commonly referred to as the no-code movement. This allows people outside of engineering to run experiments and realize ideas. We have seen a similar development with the rise of Zapier, a product that brought the power of tool integration into the hands of the masses.

Thanks to the emergence of affordable, ready-made ML solutions to optimize business processes, this belief must be gradually adjusted. With those barriers out of the way, the emphasis therefore must lay on the creative use of those tools. The practical question is, therefore: How can you safely build a bridge between speculation and actualization of the AI/ML revolution?

How AI can help small businesses

Artificial Intelligence has been helping big companies for years. Only recently has AI become available to small businesses through AIaaS (AI as a service). The benefits for small businesses are similar to those of big companies—let’s take a look:

  • Reduce time spent on mundane tasks: using AI to automate repetitive tasks and analyze large amounts of data helps small businesses free up time to focus on other tasks.
  • Lower costs: implementing an AI solution reduces costs in the long run by improving efficiency and freeing up time and resources to develop the business.
  • Improve service: using AI to understand your consumers and how they feel about your product can help you proactively improve your offerings.
  • Improve security: AI solutions can be implemented to help small businesses detect any suspicious cyber activity before it becomes an issue.

These are some of the general benefits of implementing an AI solution in your small business. It can help increase efficiency, productivity, and quality of insights—but, how?

Let’s take a look at some of the use cases for small businesses.

AI can help improve customer service

AI solutions can help businesses improve customer service in a number of ways, from analyzing customer sentiment to categorizing support requests. 

Having insights into customer behavior and sentiment is key for improving your support and product—often before customers themselves request it. 

AI can simplify operations

AI can help businesses by improving efficiency and productivity when it comes to business operations. Whether that’s by categorizing incoming emails based on their contents, or identifying promising leads and unpromising leads.

AI can help with both simple and complex issues and can help you and your team free up a lot of time for other important tasks.

AI can help you improve your product

AI enables businesses to continuously improve their product and offerings with insights into how users interact with them. Simply use AI to monitor what users are talking about and the sentiment behind their words, and make changes accordingly.

AI can help highlight product issues before they’re vocalized by users—meaning you can solve problems before they even arise.

Gone are the days when only the biggest organizations leveraged AI—small businesses can now use AI to optimize their processes, too. AI solutions make harnessing the power of Machine Learning easier than ever before—let’s see how to implement AI in your small business.

How to implement ai in small businesses

In working with our customers, we are seeing that our most successful ones are following a similar path to adopting AI tools in their products and processes:

View problems through the lens of AI

Machines have become smart but we are still years away from human-like intelligence. However, until then it is possible for us to understand how machines can learn from data. Depending on the use case, data may be classified, segmented, interpreted, or extracted and you can run regressions on it. Looking at your business processes (and data) in this manner is the entry ticket to the promised land of AI.

Start with something small

Regardless of how intuitive software is, new tools and technology can be overwhelming. Not only because of the newness itself but also the change aspect around it. Therefore, it has proven worthwhile to set up a first experiment – or pilot – with a high probability of demonstrating a positive return on investment.

Scale

AI benefits from what is called a "network effect". However, not in the traditional sense of a social network or chat app. AI applications are becoming more valuable as the amount of data grows that is being processed. So once the use case has been proven, it is in the best interest of the business to integrate as much data of the same kind as possible – the reason being that accuracy grows with each new instance the model receives, leading to a higher overall performance of the company.

Try it out yourself

Create your own AI for documents, images, or text to take daily, repetitive tasks off your shoulders.

Get started

Try it out yourself

Create your own AI for documents, images, or text to take daily, repetitive tasks off your shoulders.

Get started

AI tools for small businesses: what to look out for

Finally, let’s consider what you should look out for when choosing your AI solution. There are plenty to choose from, so you need to make sure you find the right solution for your business.

Look out for the following considerations before making your decision.

  • Easy to use and implement: you need a solution that the entire team can use—ideally, without hours of onboarding and training. There’s little point in a tool that takes months to implement and understand. Ease of use should be a top priority when choosing your AI solution.
  • Scalable solution: you need a solution that can grow with your business, not hold it back. AI technology can often easily be scaled, but consider your growth plan and ask questions accordingly. 
  • High-quality support: another key consideration is the support offered by the AIaaS provider. You want a solution that provides support throughout the entire journey, from tool onboarding to implementing complex AI models.
  • Ample features: this is a big one—you need a tool that’s able to execute the actions you need. Consider the tool’s ability to perform Natural Language Processing (NLP), image classification, and more. 
  • Quality of predictions: you need a solution that works. Some solutions offer better prediction accuracy than others, as well as guidance on how to ensure you’re getting the most accurate predictions—such as more training data or better labels.
  • Speed of development: AI is a fast-evolving landscape. You need to look out for a solution that’s committed to keeping up with industry developments, and updating the solution in-line with industry advances.

Finding a solution that ticks all these boxes is key for implementing AI technologies in your business. AI solutions differ from tool to tool—find one that works for your business.

If you’re looking for an intuitive tool that guides you through getting the most accurate predictions—try Levity. It’s quick and easy to train AI models, and the workflow builder enables you to easily create AI workflows using your freshly-trained AI model.

There’s no coding and no confusion, just simple AI to help your small business

Conclusion

If you made it this far, I hope that you agree with us that the future looks bright for SMEs when it comes to the technical side of AI. We believe that the answer to this article's title is a firm yes. There are wonderful tools taking care of everything that requires valuable developer time and it is up to you to put them to creative use. This may not lead to a breakthrough in AI research – but that is probably not what your business is about.

Now that you're here

Levity is a tool that allows you to train AI models on images, documents, and text data. You can rebuild manual workflows and connect everything to your existing systems without writing a single line of code.‍If you liked this blog post, you'll probably love Levity.

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Now that you're here

Levity is a tool that allows you to train AI models on images, documents, and text data. You can rebuild manual workflows and connect everything to your existing systems without writing a single line of code.‍If you liked this blog post, you'll probably love Levity.

Sign up

Now that you're here

Levity is a tool that allows you to train AI models on images, documents, and text data. You can rebuild manual workflows and connect everything to your existing systems without writing a single line of code.
‍
If you liked this blog post, you'll probably love Levity.

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