How Can Small Businesses Use Artificial Intelligence

Posted: March 12, 2024

We’ve seen Artificial Intelligence (AI) used more and more commonly in large enterprises, mostly in the form of machine learning. Finally, AI is becoming more and more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well and with Microsoft's recent expansion of Copilot for Microsoft 365 adoption will continue to accelerate. Let’s discuss how a small business might put AI to use, or in other words, how you can get started doing so.

AI is inherently flexible, as it's really nothing more than our attempts to mimic our own cognitive processes. Basically, all AI is, is software that is designed to follow similar patterns as our own learning and reasoning processes do in order to solve problems. That’s it, and that’s what makes AI so potentially useful—even for every day professionals.

Here are just a few ways that AI can be used to improve your operations:

Boosting Productivity

With the expansion of Copilot for Microsoft 365 to SMBs, professionals can now use AI in a variety of their everyday tasks, from drafting documents in Word and composing emails to creating reports in Excel and summarizing meetings in Teams. Professionals will be able to get their work done quicker and more efficiently.

Enhancing Cybersecurity

The things your employees do each and every day as a part of their work responsibilities are likely somewhat consistent. AI systems simply make predictions based on data and act according to these predictions. In terms of security, this means that security solutions powered by AI can detect and act upon odd activity (like logins in the wee hours of the morning from places across the world) or an employee does something that potentially undermines security, and stop it. This helps in the early detection of unusual activities or suspicious patterns. AI-driven automation is utilized for incident response, allowing for the rapid containment, investigation, and mitigation of security incidents. This is especially crucial in responding to threats at the speed and scale of modern cyberattacks.

Optimizing Customer Service

As much as businesses are meant to serve their customers, the necessary activities related to this service take time—time that sometimes needs to be spent on other business needs and processes. AI systems can (and are) used now to assist businesses with their customer service needs. If you’ve sought out assistance on a website to be greeted by a little pop-up offering to answer your questions, you’ve witnessed AI in action. Key examples include:

  • Chatbots and virtual assistants
  • Automated ticketing and routing
  • Predictive analytics for personalization
  • Automated email responses
  • Customer feedback analysis
  • Real-time language translation

By using these tools to help your customers find the answers to their questions, you take much of the burden off of your workers while also collecting information that your business either needs or could benefit from knowing.

Finessing Customer Relationships and Marketing Efforts

If you’re tracking your marketing efforts the way you should be, there’s going to be a lot of data and insights generated, which means there should be a lot of data being processed and crunched. This amount of data is apt to be too much for your employees to commit the time and effort to keeping organized, which makes the capabilities of AI so useful. AI can take over these organizational and analytical processes on your business’ behalf, allowing you to identify which of your efforts are most worthwhile and get the best response from your intended audience. These insights can then inform your future efforts, making them more effective for you.

Small businesses can adopt AI to gain a competitive edge, enhance efficiency and productivity, and improve their cybersecuirty. Reach out to us to learn more about how to get your organization AI-ready.

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