The Impact of AI and Connected Devices Adoption on Small and Medium Size Companies
There’s no denying that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies are improving our quality of life and delivering the ease of use. From our smartphones to our smart TVs to even our smart home appliances, we’ve seen many examples of how AI is being used to make our lives simpler.
All of these devices and the others mentioned have one goal in mind. Simply put to cater to our needs, to personalize our experience and basically, do work more efficiently. The focus of this is about simplification and ease of use. As an individual, for example, you might have a single app that allows you to control a host of other services. Google Home, for example, lets you control your WiFi, your lights, temperature, and even appliances!
Obviously, as you can tell, it is a rising trend that is gaining momentum all around the world. As individuals, we’re learning to accept and welcome AI and connectivity in general into our lives. Therefore, it should really be no big surprise when we find out that companies and businesses are doing the same. After all, if we can use these smart devices to make our lives better, then surely companies can use them to help them in their day-to-day processes.
In the past, we’ve seen massive companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others use AI- or a type of AI- to help run their networks. In fact, the servers these websites run on don’t require much human intervention- it’s all machine run by itself.
And it’s just not limited to that. Companies like Amazon make use of AI and connected devices to run their operations to a startling degree. This could include managing their warehouses around the world, to monitoring their business processes for efficiencies.
However, what we haven’t seen are small to medium-sized businesses using these technologies until recently. That is all set to change though as 2019 will see a significant number of small to medium-sized businesses make use of AI and related technologies to help run their operations. But what impact do these new technologies have on them?
The Financial Impact
It might seem like a simple thing. It's software right? All you have to do is install an AI system, and all of your problems will be solved. At least that’s what people without any extensive knowledge of computer science might think.
If you realize that it is slightly more complicated, you would be on the right track. While everyone can agree that the long-term benefits of installing these systems are quite extensive if done correctly. In the shorter term, small to medium-sized businesses might face some initial hurdles.
Fortunately, these hurdles are not by any means insurmountable. In fact, with tools like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home commonplace, they are becoming ever more familiar. While AI within the business is a bit more complex than this, it is not that far a leap.
Some simple and easy wins using AI that can be realized in a business environment right now are as follows:
Translation services can expand the size of your customer pool by providing you access to many different markets with machines doing the heavy language lifting for you. Automation - from simple email filtering to an understanding of a question in a help desk forum, automation is going to be a big win for small businesses. By using machines to funnel customers in the right direction, they are going to be significantly more efficient at a fraction of the cost.
Data Analysis is an evident strength of AI. While data quality is something of a concern, AI has the power to detect anomalies, and over time, it will “learn” what is right and wrong. This data analysis can work with pattern recognition and help identify problems before they become crises.
Improved case and call routing. Of course, AI is not limited to text alone. Improvements in speech recognition and natural language skills will further benefit businesses that offer customer service assistance. Having a tool that offers 24/7/365 capabilities on the phone and through chat will only improve NPS scores in this area!
When it comes to AI, there is no middle ground, no ‘we can always buy it later’ option with AI installation. It is something that businesses need to embrace if they want to compete on the world's stage.
The Social Impact
Another thing that happens when you convert your business to an AI-based system is that it will impact jobs. Depending on the kind of business you run, you will find that your AI system will help you with many different roles. It will, for example, make data collection significantly easier. Additionally, the time required to collect and process this data will be cut down drastically.
Because of this, you’re definitely going to be looking at your resources. It’s important to remember that these fears are not new though. Whenever there is a shift or a new technology introduced, job losses are always uppermost in mind. Time after time, these fears have in the long term proved unwarranted, as while there is at times a short term impact, it is temporary.
Now, the scale of the transformation with the advent of AI is perhaps a bit larger than some of the earlier transitions. Fortunately, the impact is something that is being looked at in businesses around the world with significant skills training programs already in place or being developed.
This is where AI can benefit the small business owner though - AI is a great equalizer when it comes to hiring, letting small businesses quickly and easily sift through massive piles of resumes and applications. Finding the right talent is a key requirement for growth, and with AI at the forefront, this is a battle that is easy to win.
The Good News
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. These two are the main, immediate effects of a radical transfer from traditional to an AI-based business model. If anything, AI actually helps run your business more efficiently, and that’s great news for you.
Depending on the kind of business you run, you might even find that you have the option to grow your teams- you just might need to train them. Of course, this calls for major organizational changes, but the thing about incorporating modern technologies into your business is that it helps business growth and boost incomes. You might be able to pay your staff a better wage while at the same time, making profits for yourself.
It’s a better way of dealing with things like operations, processing, and customer service. This helps you focus on other things which might be essential to your business’s growth like operations, marketing and sales. With more time in your hands, you can work on your company’s market expansion and expand your business.
As you can see, a transition from traditional to AI-based business model may seem a bit daunting. We've covered some immediate short-term problems. Frankly, there will be others.
If you want to grow your business, these problems cannot scare you away.
Structure your transition in a way that minimizes the negative impact. After all, it’s your business we’re talking about, and we’re sure that you’ll want it to succeed. If embraced and done correctly, the advantages far outweigh the effort and risk.
Konverge Digital Solutions is Custom Software Development and business transformation solution provider. For the past 25 years, customers have been coming to Konverge for help with leveraging technology to meet their organizational objectives. Konverge’s consulting practice includes custom software solutions, Mobile app development, AI, IoT, and Connected Devices software solutions.
Konverge's software development Toronto is 100% Canadian owned, we work closely with medium and large enterprises across industries and across Canada and internationally to deliver best in class enterprise digital transformation solution.