AI is often being linked to Industry 4.0 in a similar way to the invention of steam engines (First Industrial Revolution), Mass Production (Second Industrial Revolution) and the emergence of the digital age (Third Industrial Revolution). We’ve been roping in the benefits of AI on a regular basis and it feels so accessible for the consumers that even the small business leaders are trying to encash the advantages that AI will be offering to their businesses. With more and more number of companies developing AI applications, competition and adoption rates of AI technology has increased, which in turn drives down the costs, thus, making AI accessible to a wider range of businesses.
But, the debate remains- whether the small businesses should really consider the usage of AI for fulfilling their business needs or not? If the smaller businesses are looking to encash the benefits of this technology, then the timing of adopting the technology is going to play a crucial role.
How Small Businesses Use AI
Benefits of AI to Small Businesses
AI is gaining immense popularity amongst businesses of all sizes. It can be more important for a small business if it ropes in the advantages that this technology has to offer to the smaller businesses.
Following are top-4 benefits that AI offers to the small businesses-
1. AI for Data Collection and Analysis
AI has been an indispensable for the large companies that hold access to large volumes of consumer data. AI is also becoming important for small businesses that are looking to draw significant conclusions from the modest amount of information available. When small businesses gain access to sophisticated statistical tools, they can gain more knowledge about the existing customers and also work on techniques to discover newer ones. AI is a versatile tool as it helps the businesses in a wide array of operations, ranging from- determining the factors responsible for retaining the existing customers to helping the businesses discover newer market niches. AI has also made it possible for small businesses to collect a large amount of data. Powerful data gathering mechanisms are now present that can be used by both- large and small businesses.
2. Smarter Hiring With AI
Hiring is a major challenge when it comes to small businesses. The large companies are enabled with name recognition, huge networks and other resources for the job seekers. For smaller businesses, AI can prove to be a great catalyst in the hiring challenge. Earlier recruiters used to have a manual examine huge piles of resume, AI has made the process much streamlined and expansive. Machine learning algorithms can be used for determining the past hiring practices that have proven to be more effective. Other AI applications can even learn the types of communication that is going to appeal to appeal to specific candidate set, discover new leads from the unexpected places and also informing the recruiters about the details of a candidate’s work history. These are some ways in which the hiring operation can be up-leveled for small businesses and can be of great help if the smaller businesses are looking to compete with the larger business firms.
3. Making Backend Organizations Efficient
AI in near time is going to take up tasks that are related more to the backend. Some backend tasks include- logistics operations such as basic accounting, scheduling, etc. As the smaller businesses have a smaller number of employees, transferring the time-consuming tasks to AI will prove to be important for them if they have to efficiently use human capital. When AI is used in backend operations, it also proves to lesser intrusion on the jobs undertaken by the employees. The employees of the organization need to welcome this technology that can help them to get rid of the monotonous tasks and free them for more productive tasks.
4. Developing an AI-Driven Marketing
AI is fundamentally changing the market scenario for businesses. It helps the employees to eliminate the need for carrying out mechanical tasks. AI is definitely changing the landscape for small businesses as these used to have very limited ads that could be afforded in the local markets. But the advancement of AI has given the smaller businesses to go beyond local markets and reach a vast audience online. The businesses are using the AI-based platforms developed by top companies to target specific consumers who act as recipients of the marketing messages. Small businesses than collect and analyze consumer data across multiple channels. AI has made this possible without having a team of dedicated marketers.
Thus, small businesses start integrating AI as early as possible in order to reach a large number of customers in the coming future.
Small Business Leaders on Using AI
In today’s time, AI is present in a more “dark-state” because it needs a high amount of specialized skill set. Presently, only a limited number of people have the required high-level skills needed for building an AI application to drive the business value. AI is relatively hard science and needs a lot of time for its development.
Also, an AI application can’t be built by an individual and usually involves a team of experts within the business, who need to be trained in AI. Collaborating with such a team remains a challenge even for the bigger firms across the world.
Ai requires data governance and infrastructure largely that is more complex than the ones that the small businesses can afford. Data governance and infrastructure are some of the basic requirements needed for leveraging AI technology and can be daunting for smaller businesses.
To conclude, most of the small businesses don’t need AI as of now in order to become more profitable. In the coming time, it can be predicted that AI technology will be more accessible and we can expect AI being used in small businesses. The accessibility of AI can be defined in terms of cheaper and better-defined business usage with a lower requisite of knowledge in computer science.`
Growth in Global AI Market
A leading market research group has predicted that the global AI market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 51% during the forecast period (2017-2021). Towards the end of 2016, the global AI market was valued at $179.11 billion and is estimated to reach $968.06 billion at the end of the forecasted period (2021).
Following are the key drivers that will contribute towards the growth of the global AI-
1. Growing adoption of deep learning
Deep learning is an advanced version of AI technology, which looks to imitate the functionalities and activities of the human brain. It is capable of learning and recognizing patterns related to sounds, images, and other data with which humans interact. The increased deployment of deep learning technology has allowed the execution of complex functions like high-speed data processing, image recognition, and voice recognition.
2. Increased deployment of robots
The companies can save a large amount of operational expenditure by introducing robots at the factory. The development of robots needs a high amount of initial capital investments. With the increased popularity of AI across various industry verticals, a large number of companies have started laying off employees and they are replaced by the AI systems. Also, the robots have a much higher efficiency than the human counterparts.
3. Increased number of AI startups
The increase in number of AI startups has attracted significant investments are advancing in driving innovations at their workplace. Most of the AI start-ups are specializing in developing AI solutions for key industrial procedures in major industries like oil and gas.