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Larger corporations are usually at the forefront of technological developments and the latest trends. These companies often have the budgets needed to invest in expensive tech solutions, and they might also have more to gain, financially and operationally, from improving their processes using automation.

However, that doesn’t mean that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation aren’t beneficial for small to medium-sized businesses too. AI and machine learning technologies are more affordable and accessible than ever before, making them equally viable for smaller enterprises.

As more companies adopt these solutions, the costs will decrease, and their functions will continue to diversify. This will enhance their accessibility even further, eventually creating a world in which most or all business processes are handled by the minds of machines.

The Many Applications of Machine Learning

Like any kind of modern technological innovation, AI has a seemingly endless range of applications. Businesses of all sizes can use artificial intelligence in the form of marketing automation tools, customer service chatbots, process automation systems, and hiring management solutions.

Automation also produces valuable digital data that can be used to further streamline business processes. Information powers machine learning and forms the very backbone of AI. No company can afford to miss out on the benefits that automation has to offer, especially if their competitors are climbing on board.

Here are 5 key reasons automation and AI technology could help businesses, small and large, to stay afloat in an increasingly challenging economic environment.

1. Improved Customer Service

A company’s customer pool is its lifeblood and its primary source of income. This is why proper customer service is crucial to a business’s operations, no matter what products and services it offers.

It’s predicted that by the end of 2020, over 85% of all customer service interactions will be automated. Chatbots can offer highly efficient 24/7 customer support that finds relevant information in seconds and minimises human error. AI significantly reduces the time and energy needed to provide in-depth client service, leaving you with the option of diverting your manpower into the sections of your operations that need it most.

Depending on the industry you’re in, you can use chatbots creatively to offer a fun and engaging customer service experience for users. This enhanced service has the power to improve your customer retention rates and even gain you a reputation for the quality and efficiency of your support.

2. Preparation for a Big-Data-Powered Future

Virtually every part of a business’s administrative process can benefit from automation. AI can be used to process forms, book meetings, organise data and files, and quickly deal with other tedious tasks that require minimal skill. These tasks would otherwise take large portions of time out of your team’s schedules, leaving them with less time to dedicate to the fundamentals of your business’s operations.

Automation can take care of important but time-consuming jobs while gathering digital data that you can later use to further improve your processes. Process automation software reduces office inefficiencies, boosts productivity, and keeps meticulous records that can be accessed at any time.

The generation of digital data is an essential step to becoming a data-driven company that will thrive in the age of technology. After all, without data, AI and ML are all but impossible to deploy. Process automation platforms are simple to use, based in the cloud, and don’t require the skills of a programmer. This means that even small businesses with limited budgets can benefit from their use.

3. Streamlined Recruitment and Hiring

Large and small businesses alike need skilled and talented employees to ensure their success. SMEs in particular may not have the HR resources necessary to track down the talent they need. Hiring the right people with appropriate skill sets can be a challenge, which is why so many companies are now using AI to aid or replace their HR departments.

Virtual programs can screen candidates, match applicants to the correct positions, and ensure they have the skills required for the job, all without human intervention. AI can reach out and identify professionals that you may not otherwise be able to connect with, along with those who would be the most invested in your enterprise.

It can even analyse facial expressions, speech patterns, and resume inclusions to predict future behaviours and performances, saving you plenty of time in the recruitment sphere. Better still, AI can remove implicit biases related to gender, ethnicity and background, making for a more equal and diverse staff force.

4. Demystified Marketing Data

One of the most significant benefits of AI for businesses lies in the automation of marketing strategies. If a company is pressed for time or resources, it can be difficult to pick through vast amounts of data on customer preferences, demographics and behaviour to craft effective marketing campaigns.

However, having these forms of data on hand can make a massive difference to your profit margins. Knowing as much as you can about your customers’ actions is crucial to honing in on your target market and securing sales. Once you know who you need to speak to, and on what platform, you can ensure all marketing content is created with a laser focus.

There are dozens of marketing automation platforms available that offer customised packages for businesses of varying sizes and focuses. This means that every enterprise can benefit from implementing marketing automation.

5. More Efficient Bookkeeping

There are so many AI tools on the market engineered specifically to improve your business’s bookkeeping. Many offer assistance with basic data entry, but others are more advanced, and can easily take over most (if not all) of your accountant’s regular tasks. You can use AI bookkeeping software to prepare and confirm invoices, set payment reminders, schedule and release payments, and much more.

Again, artificial intelligence can gather and assess financial data as it does your books. This data can later identify unnecessary or excess areas of expense, to develop more effective cash flow models, and to optimise your profit margins. Modern technology can even automate payroll to simplify the process of paying your human employees.

It's easy to see why AI is the way of the future. Companies that harness its benefits now are giving themselves an advantage that could well keep them from going under when times are tough.

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