January 25th, 2021 · 7 minute read

How SMBs are using AI and ML and where you can too.

Updated: January 25th, 2021

ML and AI

How Small and Medium Businesses Are Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning 

When it comes to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), tech giants like Google, Twitter, IBM, and Facebook come to mind. However, the use of these technologies may have been initiated by such large organizations, but their use is not limited to global conglomerates with budgets worth millions of dollars. They are also at the disposal of and being used by medium and small businesses (MSBs).

As the cost of technology comes down and it becomes more affordable, SMB can increasingly afford to invest in advanced technologies.

According to the Gartner, Inc., 2019 CIO Survey, 37% of enterprises worldwide have already implemented ML and AI. This represents a whopping 270% increase in four years. 

The Intuit® Emergent Research study, Small Business in the Age of AI, looked at attitudes among small businesses toward automation technology. Small businesses have embraced advanced technologies, with big data (24%), natural language processing (17%), and machine learning (12%) already being in use.

Small business owners believe that automation technology will benefit their enterprises by freeing up time to get more work done, improving customer service, and boosting innovation.

Gartner, Inc. finds that artificial intelligence is increasingly making its way into the workplace, with virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and other forms of chatbots now augmenting human performance in many organizations. 

Let’s look at some ways that SMBs are leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning in their enterprises.

1. Reinventing hiring and retention

Hiring new staff can be problematic for a small business owner who has a myriad of other responsibilities. Recruiting is a critical business aspect that is time-consuming and requires expertise that SMBs don’t necessarily have.  These businesses often don’t have an HR department to speak of, yet a lot of time-consuming human resources work needs to be taken care of.

New HR technology that leverages ML and AI has emerged, which takes a lot of repetitive manual work out of the equation. 

BambooHR is an HR platform that facilitates recruiting, hiring, and new-hire onboarding, and provides time-off tracking, performance management, and includes a mobile app.

Manatal recruitment software includes AI features that help to streamline the entire recruitment process. There are many HR tools available for SMBs to help them with recruitment and hiring processes.

Poor staff retention cost enterprises dearly. Bonously is a platform that drives retention for SMBs. It features a dashboard that integrates recognition in daily operations to improve engagement and retention.

Bonusly and other similar platforms powered by ML and AI help SMBs retain their top talent and keep them engaged.


2. Streamline marketing

Small companies can benefit tremendously by leveraging small business marketing automation software powered by ML and AI.

HubSpot’s Marketing Hub offers marketing software that helps SMBs grow their traffic, convert more visitors, and run complete inbound marketing campaigns at scale. The platform makes it possible for businesses to attract and engage customers in completely new ways. 

HubSpot Marketing Hub allows SMBs to plan and run successful inbound marketing campaigns that attract prospects and keep existing customers engaged. The platform enables users to send customers personalized and relevant email messages as part of their marketing campaigns.

AI helps with email marketing by 

·       optimizing subject lines for increased clicks

·       getting personalization right

·       automating content

·       using predictive analytics to plan future communications

·       accurate timing of emails for different purposes

·       producing content in email-appropriate formats

These days no business can afford not to have a presence online, but it’s time-consuming to keep track of your ads across different platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads. Wordstream helps small businesses to analyze, optimize, and maximize their online advertising across platforms like Google and Facebook, which saves a lot of valuable time.

AdRoll helps businesses to drive online advertising. The platform’s Lookalike Targeting uses AdRoll machine learning to find and engage consumers who look and act like a brand’s existing customers. Another platform that leverages both ML and AI to help businesses with online advertising optimization is Acquisio.

3. Improve customer relationships

SMBs don’t have the budget to hire a large staff contingent to engage with an onslaught of customer inquiries. The advent of AI-empowered chatbots is just in time to help small businesses out.

Intercom is a widely-used conversational relationship platform (CRP) used by more than 30,000 customers worldwide. Intercom’s Answer Bot helps businesses build better customer relationships through personalized, instant answers to questions, and what’s more, it can hold the fort 24/7. 

Verloop.io is another customer support automation platform that is used by 15,000 businesses. It aids businesses to deliver customer support services, generate more leads, and qualify leads in real-time.

Should a bot, for whatever reason, not be able to handle an inquiry, there is AI ticketing, which directs a customer to a human service agent. AI ticketing will be able to quickly determine whether a question would be better answered by a service agent on the phone, thereby saving time.

4. Assist sales teams

Sales is difficult and time-consuming. Most businesses can do with tech help to speed up the sales process.

There are many AI tools that can help sales teams reach their targets.

Businesses of all sizes can make use of AI sales assistants or virtual sales assistants. AI sales assistants are tech tools that can automate a whole range of sales-related tasks through embedded artificial intelligence. For instance, the AI can take care of lead qualification and follow-up, pipeline, data entry, and other duties. 

AI sales assistants can be used for routine tasks so the sales team can handle more complex tasks.

HubSpot offers companies its Sales Hub, a sales CRM that includes sales engagement tools, configure-price-quote (CPQ) functionality, as well as sales analytics. A CRM powered with AI, ML, and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities can be of immense assistance to sales teams.

Do you know who your best or least effective salesperson is? PeopleAI will tell you. People.AI is a behavioral analytics solution that can pinpoint which sales rep behaviors are most likely to lead to a successful sale. The platform uses this information to provide AI-driven sales coaching to help sales reps strike more deals.

Crystal Knows is a nifty AI-driven tool that serves an important purpose: it creates personality profiles of prospects based on their LinkedIn, Salesforce, and other online profiles. This enables truly personalized communication that helps to foster a deep relationship between sales team members and customers or prospects.

Final thoughts

Don’t think that your business is too small for ML and AI. It’s a fact of modern life that common sense and experience are no longer enough to navigate a business world that has become multifaceted and complex.

Businesses that avail themselves of ML and AI and their various applications will be the ones that succeed in the future. 

Datahunter and Apption are here to help you.  Contact us to find out more.

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