Entrepreneurship: Should Your Business Be Using AI?

should your business be using AI
AI (Artificial Intelligence) has come a long way in the last few decades – it’s unclear yet whether AI will one day form a Terminator-like uprising and destroy the human race. For now, it seems to be on our side – and it can help us achieve amazing things.

AI technology involves using computer programs to not just automate tasks, but learn and adapt. In its early days, it was capable of solving only basic problems, while modern AI programs are now capable of beating world chess champions and creating life-like digital illustrations in the style of any artist. 

AI also includes many useful business applications. Such applications can not just save business owners time, but in some cases go above and beyond what any human workforce can do.

The most elaborate AI programs are still only available to the most wealthy companies, however a number of AI programs are now becoming more affordable for smaller businesses. Adopting this tech could help you to stay ahead of competitors and make running your business easier.

Keep reading to discover how you can use AI in business.

should your business be using AI

#1 – Chatbots

Nowadays, many company websites have virtual help desks where you can have conversations with a representative via instant messaging. When using the majority of these virtual help desks, you’re still likely to be talking to a real person. However, a growing number of companies are starting to use chatbots instead.

Chatbots are virtual assistants that are entirely powered by AI. They are able to respond to questions naturally and informatively just like a real human. This can save you having to hire virtual assistant employees to respond to messages in real time (or indeed save you from having to respond to messages yourself). With the advent of AI TTS, chatbots can now also respond with voice.

There are many companies that allow you to create a chatbot personalised to your business needs. Such chatbots are ‘trained’ to respond to a variety of requests. Once adopted, these chatbots can then continue to learn from each conversation they have, developing their customer service skills.

Sounds unbelievable? There are many AI chatbots that you can test out to see for yourself just how well they do the job. AI chatbots should be used cautiously when dealing with matters that involve emotional sensitivity such as handling complaints or providing therapy. Otherwise they are capable at handling most online customer service roles. 

#3 – Inventory forecasts

Inventory planning is something that many businesses struggle to get just right. Whether you’re stocking shelves in a store, ordering ingredients for a restaurant or acquiring materials for a factory, you need to be able to replenish your inventory in order to meet demand without ordering excess stock that could expire or go unused. 

While there are programs that can help to automatically track stock and even order new stock in regular intervals, AI can take these programs to the next level. Using AI inventory forecasts, you can automatically determine exactly how much stock to order in by analysing sales data history, individual item expiry dates and even global trends in some cases. This can reduce inventory shortages or oversupplying issues, while also saving time spent making orders. 

When choosing an AI inventory management tool, try to look for one that is catered to your industry. For example, there are likely to be tools focused towards retail and others that are focused more towards manufacturing which may be easier to train on your inventory. 

#3 – Rota scheduling

Creating rotas for employees can be a laborious task. You need to be able to make sure you allocate enough employees to cover the demands of each shift, while also designating these shifts evenly and fairly based on each employee’s contracted hours.

There are basic tools that can create automated rotas, but they may not always account for busy periods or allocate the best-suited employees to the right shifts. AI rota builders can use data from other sources such as sales data and individual employee data to automatically build much better rotas that are able to continuously learn and improve from week to week. 

It’s worth noting that AI rota builders may still need to be occasionally tweaked manually to account for anomalies such as an unprecedented event or staff conflicts. However, they can still take most of the work out of rota building. 

#4 – Screening applicants

AI technology can also be used within recruitment to manually screen applications. This is most useful when it comes to sorting through huge amounts of resumes in a short period of time.

AI applicant screening tools can help to detect keywords that are preferable or non-preferable in order to decide whether to highlight the most suitable candidates. These tools can also collect data from successful applicant resumes and use this to determine future suitable candidates based on similar trends within their resume. 

These tools should not be used to handle the entire hiring process. However, they may be able to narrow down candidates to a smaller pool for manual resume inspection or interviewing.  

#5 – eCommerce personalisation

If you’ve ever signed up to an online store before, you may already be familiar with some of the ways in which AI is already being used within eCommerce. AI ecommerce tools can create personalised greetings including a customer’s name when logging into a site, and they can provide product recommendations based on previous purchases and in-store browsing history. Some can even use cookies to recommend products based on browsing activity across the web.

Such tools can lead to more sales in most cases. The exception may be if your website rarely ever attracts return visitors because of the nature of the product (such as if you exclusively sell cast iron skillets and offer a lifetime guarantee – few people are likely to return to your store to buy another skillet, although you may still be able to sell to retailers in bulk). 

#6 – Dynamic pricing

Many online companies are also saying goodbye to fixed pricing and are instead embracing AI-powered dynamic pricing. This involves using AI to automatically adjust the price based on factors such as demand, competitor pricing, availability and expiry.

Dynamic pricing is commonly used by companies such as ticket vendors, hotels and airlines, however many other industries are also starting to experiment with it. When used effectively, dynamic pricing can maintain healthy profit margins.

#7 – Corporate budgeting

Some companies are also starting to use AI to budget their finances more effectively. AI-powered bookkeeping programs can track expenses and income to determine exactly how much money you are likely to have left over at the end of each month. Some programs can go further than this by recommending where to spend less or where to spend more. 

Larger companies are most likely to benefit from using AI to budget as they are more likely to have trouble tracking all expenses and payments. That said, small companies can still try using this technology – many basic accounting programs are already introducing elements of AI to help improve budgeting. 

#8 – Fraud detection

AI technology could also help to protect your business from fraud. It is possible to train AI to look out for suspicious behaviour that may put a customer at high risk of committing identity theft or friendly fraud. This could include unusual log-in attempts, unusual product purchases or unusual payment options. 

Measures may then be taken to prevent fraud such as sending identity confirmation emails/texts or blocking cards. This will ultimately help to protect your reputation, keep your customers safe and save you money. 

#9 – Email segmentation

Email segmentation involves dividing up your mailing list in order to target specific groups of people. When using AI, it is possible to automatically choose who to email and who not to email based on various analytic information. For example, if you’re trying to target loyal customers, you can use AI to send an email to those who have made multiple purchases in the past by tracking order history. If you’re trying to win over customers who aren’t interacting with your mailing list, you could create separate emails targeted at those email subscribers with a low open rate. 

AI email segmentation is most effective when used on relatively large mailing lists of 100 people or more. You should also make sure that you are sending out frequent emails, so that AI can learn from previous email performance. 

#10 – Content generation

One of the more controversial uses for AI is content generation. There are AI copywriting tools already available that can write press releases, marketing emails and even blog posts. These content generators can be programmed to include specific keywords and can even be written in specific tones of voice. 

AI content generation can save money hiring copywriters and save time creating manually written content. However, there are issues surrounding quality control, plagiarism, search engine rankings and inability to inject a personal touch. 

For this reason, content generators are best used as a writing assistant and not as a complete replacement for manual copywriting. By creating automated blog posts and then taking time to manually tweak them, you can make them more human and effective.

Alternatively, instead of using AI tools to write content, you can use AI tools to inspire you. This could include using title generators or tools to come up with content subject ideas based on what is trending. AI spelling and grammar checkers can also be useful. 

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