For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), assimilating artificial intelligence (AI) into their everyday operations seems overwhelming, which creates hesitancy to its widespread adoption. A combined study by Deloitte and Stanford University discovered that 25 percent of smaller businesses currently use AI in chatbots, predictive analytics, and marketing automation. In comparison, there's a 40 percent adoption rate of AI among larger corporations. Although many SMBs recognize the obvious benefits of AI, they tend to get distracted by the day-to-day administrative tasks that keep their businesses running, delaying its implementation.
Small companies with fewer than 100 employees use an average of 16 to 24 software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, and midsize companies with 100 to 999 employees operate with about 47 to 93. The headache of trying to get so many systems to talk to each other results in fragmented data and increased operational expenses. Businesses can harness the AI capabilities integrated into enterprise-level solutions by consolidating data on one unified platform that serves as a centralized hub, bringing together all the data and empowering SMBs to access sophisticated AI algorithms despite limited datasets.
The Benefits of AI for SMBs Are Clear
AI’s capabilities grow in correlation with the depth of the data it mines. It excels in providing data-driven analysis, especially for sales forecasting and customized marketing. Chatbots, powered by AI, enhance customer engagement and information delivery and create a personalized consumer experience. AI also aids marketing efforts by analyzing customer data and generating targeted multimedia campaigns. AI can streamline operational efficiency by automating tasks, freeing up employees to focus on higher priorities that contribute to business growth.
Recommendation algorithms can leverage machine learning to gain deeper consumer insights and better understand purchasing habits. AI-driven content creation tools help SMBs save time and money, gain a competitive advantage, and connect with customers more meaningfully.
AI Implementation: Challenges for SMBs
Incorporating AI into any business requires careful consideration of each company’s unique needs and available resources. Some inherent challenges exist for SMBs, such as finding and retaining skilled AI professionals. Additionally, they must ensure the quality and availability of data for AI training, which involves dealing with the complexities of obtaining clean, relevant and sufficient data to develop accurate and reliable AI systems. Companies continue to wrestle with the implications of using AI technology, such as employee displacement, data security, integration concerns, and scalability challenges.
There are also ethical considerations when delving into AI implementation, requiring SMBs to address data privacy, security, and possible algorithmic biases. Change management becomes vital when introducing AI, requiring SMBs to effectively manage workflow transitions to moderate employee acceptance of new AI-driven technologies. SMBs also must navigate AI-related regulations and industry standards to ensure responsible usage of the technology.
Today’s AI predominantly relies on machine learning principles as opposed to possessing genuine intelligence. AI predicts and generates responses based on the data it has been trained on. However, when flawed or incomplete data is fed into the system, it may deliver inaccurate results. For smaller e-commerce businesses already overwhelmed with an array of disconnected software programs, the task of synthesizing accurate and comprehensive data into AI systems may not seem feasible.
Maximizing AI Integration
The effectiveness of AI hinges on the availability of extensive and diverse datasets for machine learning. With access to vast amounts of data, large enterprises have been at the forefront of AI adoption due to their ability to absorb massive amounts of information to accurately predict customer behavior. To avail themselves of these advantages, SMBs need to connect with platforms that already have vast data resources, enabling them to leverage the potential of AI and propel their business beyond their competition.
For SMBs, there are substantial advantages to using a unified e-commerce point of sale and content management system (CMS). A consolidated and scalable enterprise platform elevates data-driven decision making and facilitates the integration of AI analytics into an organization’s daily operations. Realizing the full potential of AI can be a catalyst for accelerating SMB growth, enabling them to compete effectively against the established giants of e-commerce.
Mikel Lindsaar, CEO and founder of StoreConnect, is an experienced technology entrepreneur whose mission is to infuse small and medium-sized businesses with the power to be successful in customer commerce and scale to meet growing demand.
Mikel Lindsaar, CEO and Founder of StoreConnect, is an experienced technology entrepreneur whose mission is to infuse small and medium-sized businesses with the power to be successful in Customer Commerce and scale to meet growing demand. Small businesses can’t waste time setting up their business on a platform only to repeat the process by changing platforms when they want to scale, nor do they want to waste time figuring out how to unify multiple platforms. StoreConnect (built on the World’s Number 1 CRM, Salesforce) gives clients a complete, powerful, configurable eCommerce and CRM solution where they can manage their website, online and in-store sales, provide amazing customer service, run all their digital marketing campaigns, and have up-to-date detailed metrics, reporting and full understanding of their customer. They were awarded Salesforce’s 2021 International Partner Innovation Award of the Year for the Retail sector and are changing the ease with which small businesses are run ─ with a manageable price tag. StoreConnect is Time. Well Spent. Visit https://getStoreConnect.com/.