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How SMES are using AI in their businesses

5 MINUTES TO READ
How SMES are using AI in their businesses
Summary: SMEs are using AI – find out how your business can benefit too

How are SMEs are using AI?

As a small business owner, I’ve spent a lot of time working on understanding what AI means for our business and that of our clients.

Helpfully, a report from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council in the US illustrates the scale of usage in small business there (defined as 2-99 employees for the purposes of the survey).

The report shows that a large majority of SMEs surveyed are using a variety of AI tools and making significant time and cash benefits

  • 41% have used AI to redirect their own time and employee time to higher-value work
  • 39% have invested in AI tools for innovative solutions for customer engagement and retention

48% of small businesses started using AI tools in the past year, while 29% have been using them for one to two years, SBEC CEO Karen Kerrigan says, “Small business owners have rapidly embraced AI, and the range of tools and applications are helping to boost profitability, productivity and competitiveness at a time when they need such support. In fact, 93% of small business owners agree that AI tools offer cost-effective solutions that drive savings and improve profitability.”

 

Staffing issues driving AI usage

The restricted labour market and difficulty finding experienced and educated staff is a huge issue in the US as well as the UK with remote working and changing employee expectations constraining many sectors and driving up payroll costs.

The report states that 25% of small businesses said increasing staff costs drove them toward AI tools, and 19% indicating they moved to AI to augment the skills of existing staff or because they were unable to recruit the correct staff.

Lastly, a third of respondents felt they needed to utilise AI tools to compete in the current market.

 

AI tools for your small business toolbox

The first consumer ready AI tool to gain significant traction was ChatGPT. Like all the major AI tools, it has taken onboard huge quantities of information, analysed it, recognised patterns and contextualised it – the results it gives are truly amazing if you know how to “prompt” it – giving it context and then accurately asking for what you want is critical – in every case double check the answer.

(You can download our free ebook on ChatGPT prompts here)

 

There are also AI tools for just about anything you need for your business: marketing and sales, drafting business plans, financial management, and human resources—and often at little or no expense. It can even generate avatars to speak for you! (try synthesia.io)

 

Here are a few tools to try:

Synthesia – It can generate avatars to speak for you and generate video in the correct accent and language

HubSpot Chatbot Builder — will help you build a chatbot for your website – and if you use Hubspot CRM already it will use the dialogues it sees there to teach itself about your customers. Free sales and marketing tool, even if you’re not a HubSpot user

Midjourney —Creates realistic images from written descriptions for creative development

Otter.ai and Fathom are meeting assistants that will record and transcribe meetings online or in person.

 

Downsides of AI for small businesses

While AI tools are here to stay, that doesn’t mean there are no downsides:

Style and Fact Checking : AI writing styles are pretty recognisable and stilted at present- this will only improve but for now make sure you check any work stylistically BUT also for correctness – if your prompt for a piece of content was vague or had a mistake, you will get garbage out – so make sure you fact check

The Empathy and Experience factor: Humans bring a depth of experience and empathy that solely AI based processes do not.

While too much emotion in the workplace may be detrimental, empathy and decision-making based on a lifetime of experiences do matter when managing people and working as a team.

The new tools are cheap but robotics are expensive: If the answer is Robotics then its seriously expensive from a capital perspective.

The Terminator factor – the fear of Skynet is real, governments around the world are legislating on that front – sadly they seem always to be behind the curve – so fingers crossed then!

 

Consider using AI in your business

This is a confusing landscape but for now, you owe it to your business and your customers to explore these AI tools. In our economy, where time and money both matter, AI will help with both.

 

We are always happy to help – give me a call or drop us a line and we’ll be happy to talk

 

And I didn’t use ChatGPT (or anything else) to write this piece!

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