This article was first published on Aug 1, 2017, and last updated in February 2020.
Artificial intelligence (AI) surrounds us everyday, whether we realize it or not. Many sites use AI for business purposes by having chat bots working as customer support representatives. Banks use it to help with lightning-fast fraud detection, video games like “Call of Duty” use AI to enhance the playing experience, and even Siri and Alexa are prime examples of AI.
One of the best stories I’ve heard that illustrates this point is from Faisal Khan, a cross-border money transfer specialist. Faisal wanted to send his friend’s secretary a gift, but the problem was, his friend’s secretary was not real: “Uh, Amy’s a bot. You know that, right?”. Amy was a specialized kind of AI who makes calendar appointments. And yet, he couldn’t tell the difference between AI and a real person.
Already, AI is revolutionizing the way we interact with the world around us. It’s one thing for enormous bank and money transfer services to use AI. How can smaller businesses jump on this trend?
A Salesforce report found that 61 percent of small business owners think they’re not ready for AI. However, the future is now and we need to be ready. Below, I’ll go through the smartest ways you can start implementing AI to create a better workflow for your business.
Your employees are the lifeblood of your business, so hiring the right people is important. But this can also be a time-consuming task. On average, a corporate job attracts 250 applications and yet of these, only four to six will be selected for an interview. Sifting through applications is a daunting task, but AI can help with that. It can do anything from engaging with candidates through chatbots and digitized interviews, to resume screening, helping you choose the perfect candidate.
Arya is a recruiting software which uses machine learning and big data to help identify and contact high-quality candidates. Ideal’s main aim is to automate the beginning stages of resume screening to make it less time-consuming. While Wade and Wendy is another example, who build personalized chat bots that help improve the hiring process.
Almost everyone is on social media, not only that but they turn to social media for information. Which makes it paramount for your business to have a solid social media strategy. The amount of information on social media is huge. It can be a big task to field all the mentions your business might get.
AI on social media has had a bad run lately, with Microsoft’s AI bot Tay learning how to be racist on Twitter. However, one of the most helpful AI services for social media I’ve seen is Post Intelligence. A major positive is that it doesn’t end up tweeting inappropriate things. Rather than taking over your account, the AI called Pi offers suggestions based on user behavior. This includes who to follow, optimal post periods, and audience insights, as well as using deep learning to recommend the best sponsored content for you to run.
Just like Amy, the lifelike bot mentioned above, there are many ways AI can be used as a PA and calendar booking bot. Clara is a bot that you CC into your emails. From there, she can set up a meeting time with the person you’re talking to. She also uses machine learning to learn what your time and meeting location preferences are.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with tasks, or even if you need to be more organized with your day, Gluru sends you lists of deadlines and appointments. This also includes predictions of how you should answer or action each event. I have experience using X.ai, who even offers a free trial for those dubious but willing to try it out.
As the most visible area of your business for AI, customer support has been revolutionized by technological innovations. Chatbots and voice services like Alexa can satisfy consumer’s needs without having to involve another human. AI is especially important as business try to customize the customer experience to deepen the connection they have with their brand.
A lot of businesses can struggle to keep up with customer service needs, especially as growth takes off. A cost-effective option is chatbots, who can talk naturally with a customer, identify their problem, and send them to the correct section of the website or a sales rep. IBM’s Watson Assistant is still one of the most accurate AI’s out there. Their technology can replace entire call centers with an omnichannel customer experience. Watson helps consumers find the answers they need and manages their interaction with customer service representatives so they have a positive experience with your company.
Sales are a vital part of any business. If you don’t have a great sales team, you could be letting your amazing product down. The sales industry has many innovative services to help out, but using machine learning AI is a golden opportunity.
Angie is Conversica’s AI sales assistant. She sends out roughly 30,000 emails a month and learns from the responses to see who is a hot lead. From there, she hands off the conversation to a human sales rep to seamlessly continue the interaction. This system of vetting and identifying the best leads can prove to be invaluable to you and your sales team’s time. Team Support is an interesting AI service that helps manage sales funnels, getting consumers from any point of contact to a sales contract.
Where’s the best place to start with AI for business?
AI can be a daunting task to implement into your business. Don’t let its science-fiction doomsday movie connotations scare you off. Start off small and gain confidence. Read up on the latest forms of AI in your industry. There are lots of case studies out there showcasing what other businesses are doing to leverage AI. Try pilot projects with whatever AI service is best suited for you. You can even see what your competitors leverage in that field. Whatever you choose to do, AI can help you to unlock the true potential of your business.
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