There is no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) has drastically changed the world we live in since its foundation in the 1950s. We now have access to technology that our ancestors couldn’t have even imagined, and many businesses have made it a priority to pick up on the trend. Among other benefits, businesses are able to save time on tasks, lower costs, and increase results.
Consumers encounter AI frequently when dealing with businesses, such as marketing email blasts and “chatbots” that automate customer service on websites. The field of human resources is also starting to pick up on the technology, as companies are creating programs that sift through job applications searching for the desired skills and experience instead of humans go through all of them themselves. According to a June 9th Wall Street Journal report, AI can indeed help with a slew of tasks for companies, but for various reasons, small businesses “aren’t rushing into AI.”
First and foremost, time is always an issue when implementing any new processes, regardless if it incorporates AI or not. Incorporating a new AI product into a business’s daily work cannot happen in the span of a day. Creating the software and practices, tweaking them if there are issues, and training employees how to use the new solutions can be extremely time-consuming. As Mayank Pratap of Hackernoon reported, “Trying and rushing into the process is definitely a detrimental approach.”
For many small businesses that do not have a lot of employees with time to spare, it just isn’t feasible.
Of course, AI solutions can also be expensive, and some experts are cautious about encouraging small businesses to use it. According to Daniel Faggella, CEO of AI research firm Emerj, “AI is an expensive and complex solution without evidence of direct ROI (return on investment).” Tapping into AI technology might be the trendy, “cool” thing to do; however, investing in too many complex AI solutions could quickly take a business into debt.
Put simply, Faggella says small businesses should hold off on investing in complex AI solutions if they knowingly have “limited data, limited resources, and limited data science talent.”
Experts note, however, that various AI solutions might be worth it for small businesses, especially in the realm of cybersecurity. Many small businesses do not have a large IT crew and teams that can make sure their companies are safe from hackers, and existing IT teams are busy with other matters such as updating old software and hardware, responding to users’ technology issues and fixing glitches in their systems.
There is a very large gap between the percentage of small businesses that use AI versus large businesses that do. The Wall Street Journal article reported that a survey found “only 21% of small businesses are using AI or plan to use it within the next two years, compared with 65% of firms with 5,000 workers or more.” Tech giants like Google are planning on rolling out affordable AI solutions that are available to small businesses who don’t have IT geniuses on board who have extra time and resources, but so far many small businesses still haven’t decided these tools are worth the time and money.
Numerous small businesses do, however, decide to spend money to implement certain AI solutions, and for good reasons. For example, many businesses of all sizes have AI solutions that detect credit card misuse and fraud when they are used online. Having this technology not only protects the businesses but also their customers.
Many people envision AI as little robots doing our work for us so that we don’t have to do anything ourselves, but this is far from the truth. Implementing AI requires an immense amount of time and money, and it also cannot solve all of a business’s issues the same day it is integrated. Ultimately, it is important for small businesses to do an in-depth analysis into which AI products might truly result in a decent ROI.
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This has been a JBF Business Media production.