No matter where you look, industry giants like Google, Apple, and Amazon are dominating the disruptive space and taking the lead in the use of emerging technologies. But for small and mid-sized business challengers, does taking on today’s new technologies actually make a difference?
Insight: Adopting AI and machine learning helps SMBs level the playing field with their big-time competitors.
Data: The use of AI technologies in business increases labour productivity by up to 40% and enable workers to make more efficient use of their time. (Source: Accenture)
Key Action Point: Explore the AI-powered and machine learning tools that are making waves in different industries today and transforming business dynamics.
Today’s tech giants have been pushing the boundaries in transforming the user experience through AI.
But smaller organisations are starting to explore how AI and machine learning can help them provide a better customer experience while cutting down costs and becoming just as competitive as their tech-driven industry peers.
Although the prospect of deploying AI can be intimidating to SMBs, data shows that learning to harness its power can help your business get better results at the fraction of the cost and drive future growth.
So what is machine learning (ML)? How is it different from artificial intelligence (AI), and why can’t everybody stop talking about it?
Machine learning is a subset or a specific application of AI that runs on a self-learning algorithm, giving it the means to read, detect, predict patterns, and identify errors.
Throughout all the disruptive technologies, this AI application has the biggest potential to transform business models and further empower businesses because of its ability to get better and evolve as it consumes more data.
It’s created a big buzz because it is set to be the most impactful to businesses of all sizes.
With machine learning’s ability to consume data, interpret, and predict outcomes, it can help businesses with the following:
- Optimising and improving product-market fit
- Discovering product or process errors and anomalies in manufacturing, sales, etc.
- Personalising content or product offering to customers
- Managing organisational and operational risk better
- Predicting and preventing churn
- Promoting smarter communications and tailored messaging
Although it may be true that big players are leading the AI and ML space, it is worth noting that organisations of all sizes now have access to machine learning and cloud computing — giving them the strategic tools to supercharge entrepreneurship to a whole new level.
A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) states that 32% of small businesses (with $50 million to $250 million in revenue) and 38% of mid-sized companies (with $250 million to $750 million in revenue) are already using machine learning for at least one business process.
This is a notable contrast to only 26% of large enterprises adopting new technologies.
This shows that in harnessing the power of AI and machine learning, size is not necessarily a precursor to success.
With a focus on future growth, small- and mid-sized organisations are adopting AI and machine learning to change their existing business models to offer better value to their customers while strengthening their competitive edge across their industries.
SMBs are also far able to adopt machine learning technologies internally as they are far less likely to have the same level of resistance and aversion to data sharing as larger companies.
AI-Powered Tools to Transform Your Business
Today, most companies no longer worry about having access to essential data — they already have it.
Rather, the big challenge today is having the means to analyse and interpret big data to inform their business strategy.
No matter what department you’re leading — whether you’re in sales, marketing, or operations — AI, machine learning, and digital transformation as a whole have the capacity to bridge old process gaps, drive operational efficiency, and amplify what businesses can do.
All these so you can focus on what you do best — making more meaningful interactions, driving conversion, exceeding business goals and benchmarks, and improving ROI.
So whether you are ready to jump on the digital transformation train along with almost everyone else, it’s impossible to ignore that disruptive technologies do exist and that they are accelerating processes faster than ever before to cut costs, inform strategic decisions, and maximise revenue.
Here are examples of AI-powered tools worth exploring today that you can use to empower your business.
AI-Powered Tools for Sales
In sales, outbound marketing often involves building the right message for your audience, curating lists, sending out and going through emails and responses for qualified leads and prospects.
AI tools help automate these tasks and give you the ability to engage with the best leads through personalised emails.
When AI identifies that this prospect is ‘warm’ and ready for a call, it can notify the salesperson with the details gathered during conversations with these prospects.
AI tools can also set up appointments, invites, and reminders, which is integrated back to the CRM. AI tools are also able to process rich data resources through LinkedIn or Salesforce to create a prospect profile allowing you to personalised your communication according to their preferences.
By taking the bulk out of the lead and prospect research and giving you the opportunity to engage and nurture your leads and prospects better, AI can help sales teams become better at outbound prospecting so they can focus on closing more deals and increasing ROI.
Here are some AI-powered tools that are transforming sales.
- Drift AI-Powered Chatbots. This powerful sales assistant and chatbot tool has been making the rounds in different brand sites for its ability to educate and engage with site visitors. These bots can chat with site visitors and assign questions and conversations to specific team members. It captures lead email addresses and can even schedule sales meetings for you.
- Node. This is an AI-powered platform that proactively delivers the most relevant opportunities to increase revenue and customer engagement. It discovers and recommends new potential customers and gives advice to marketers and salespeople on what to say to close more deals.
- Seventh Sense. This tool integrates with HubSpot or Marketo. It helps you send emails to prospects with precision at a time when they are most likely to respond. It helps you optimise email frequency, delivery, and send time and educate prospects for better conversion.
- InsideSales.com. This AI-powered SaaS platform can help you guide your sales teams to close more deals and build a better pipeline.
AI-Powered Tools for Marketing
In marketing, not only is AI automating tasks and accelerating workflows, it is giving marketers with valuable customer insights that lead to data-driven decision making that helps them tailor their strategy. According to Salesforce, 51% of marketers are already using AI and by 2019, another 27% will be adopting the technology.
Where personalisation is the name of the game in marketing, AI promotes better audience targeting, segmentation, and keyword tracking so they can plan and execute campaigns far more effectively.
Here are some marketing tools that incorporate AI and machine learning.
- Alexa. Alexa’s marketing stack helps you find growth opportunities. It provides competitor analysis to find marketing strategies that drive more traffic.
- Motiva AI. This supercharges your marketing teams so they can adapt their customer messaging automatically to drive better engagement.
- Adobe Audience Manager. It allows you to leverage your marketing stack to create and activate high-value audiences.
- Oracle BlueKai. This is a cloud-based big data platform that enables marketing organisations to personalise online, offline, and mobile marketing campaigns with richer and more actionable information about targeted audiences.
- Automated Insights. This enhances business intelligence dashboards and internal performance reports to target content on an unprecedented scale.
- Salesforce Einstein. This integrates AI to your CRM and allows you to create predictive journeys and personalised, cross-channel experiences for your target audience.
- Ascend. A new breed of marketing services partner providing full-cycle support for every step of engagement strategy, from uncovering your customers’ preferences and behaviours through tracking performance and fine-tuning program elements.
- Albert. The first artificial intelligence marketing platform driving fully autonomous digital marketing campaigns for leading brands and agencies.
AI-Powered Tools for Finance
In PWC’s 2018 Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey, 49% of organisations globally said they have been victims of fraud and economic/cybercrime.
With cyber threats continually becoming more aggressive and complex, fraud detection tools need to evolve as well to rise up to the challenge.
AI and machine learning’s self-learning algorithms have the biggest potential to predict fraud before it happens, ratifying today’s fraud detection techniques to a whole different ball game.
By analysing patterns in data sets, machine learning can determine which patterns are likely fraudulent.
Not only can it clearly distinguish legitimate and fraudulent behaviours, but it can also learn and adapt over time to new previously unnoticed fraud tactics.
- FICO Falcon Platform. Using cognitive analytics, it makes use of AI techniques to detect previously unseen forms of suspicious behaviour. It recognises more subtle patterns of fraud that have been previously observed across billions of accounts.
- DataRobot. This automated machine learning platform and easy-to-integrate system can help uncover fraud in minutes. It makes use of data collected from previous fraud cases as the historical basis for future model prediction.
- Ravelin. This fraud detection platform uses AI and machine learning techniques to analyse and adapt to emerging threats.
AI and Machine Learning: Shaping Industries for the Future
We have so much yet to learn about AI, and there's a lot left to do in streamlining how it is implemented in different industries.
But we are already seeing companies of all sizes adopting AI and machine learning innovations to close the gap with their biggest competitors and push forward towards growth.
Using the latest AI-powered tools not only gives you the capability to improve and personalise the customer experience and automate workflows, but you also become far more able to respond quickly to changes in the market and make better data-driven decisions that can get you well ahead of the game.