24 Sep AI Machine Learning for Small Businesses: Yay or Nay?
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have been the focal point of attention for the last decade. While it’s natural for progressive business owners to get distracted by the hype of AI, unfortunately, current AI – machine learning solutions are not well suited for small businesses.
But they will be, over time.
Let’s try to gain a deeper understanding of where AI solutions are presently, and how they will eventually become viable to small businesses.
Requirements vital for AI – machine learning implementation
There are three different levels of expertise and investment that determine what kind of businesses can access AI solutions. These are:
Creation of an AI solution
Where businesses generate a massive amount of data, have robust infrastructures for data cleaning and processing, have experienced AI experts on their team with deep-seated domain expertise, and of course venture money to create all this.
Vendors of an AI solution
As a business, you could integrate an AI solution to your workflow by outsourcing it to a third-party vendor. But chances are, you will still need the above prerequisites to start with.
Readymade AI tools
Like web browsers that could be installed and used without any former training or background in computer science or programming. AI tools don’t require in-house talent, money, or infrastructure, but these are scarce. Google Maps or Facebook Ads are two prime examples of readymade AI tools.
To sum up, AI tools are the way forward if small businesses want to adapt to this disruptive technology. However, most solutions cannot be made accessible overnight.
This is because of two main reasons.
First is the data problem. Small businesses don’t have a lot of data – at least not until they grow to a point where they start generating enough data on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. But then, they won’t remain small businesses anymore. This is even more problematic for brick-and-mortar businesses. Their data is not present in a digitised format, so an AI solution would not drive any value for them.
The other problem, as mentioned above is that of customer friendliness. Most interfaces of AI solutions today are difficult to process for those who do not come from the IT field. These apps or software are not user-friendly, and small business would need a data scientist to set up, integrate, and manage the workflows within such software.
Takeaways on AI machine learning for small businesses
The marketing teams of AI vendors would love to convince small businesses to integrate their AI solutions. Look at the popularity of chatbots – the fully automated service assistants for customers and businesses.
However, check the viability of any solution before bringing it into your workflow. AI software requires a solid understanding of data science and massive investments – and don’t expect them to deliver results on the first day of the business itself.
The only way to make AI accessible to small businesses is to make them easily comprehensible and consumer-friendly. However, present-day AI machine learning systems are far too complex and expensive to bring the desired ROIs to smaller businesses.