How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Business
AI coming of age will revolutionize small businesses
Everywhere we look the buzz around Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is growing. While AI already provides opportunities for “smart” marketing and business practice recommendations, AI in 2022 will take a step forward and be able to recommend tactics, while also predicting the result and benefits of those recommendations. AI tools that SMBs adopt next year should not only give a recommendation but should also be able to explain why a recommendation is being made.
This will help transform decision-making for small business owners and provide them with tools that go beyond experimenting with growth and instead focus on changes that are most likely to help a business succeed. Here are some specific use-cases that AI will impact in 2022:
1—Generating micro-cohort of existing or new potential customers: Leveraging predictive algorithms and using AI to build micro-cohorts will make media buying more efficient, effective, and successful in engaging small businesses’ specific target audiences. With deeper AI integration, emerging technology and marketing automation will go beyond advising businesses on ‘what’ they should do and will recommend both the ‘what’ and the ‘why.’
An example of this would be where currently a small business owner might get a recommendation they should start advertising online to find new customers, very soon that recommendation will include details on where, when and how they should advertise, as well as predicting how many new customers they should expect to earn and how much revenue those customers are likely to bring.
By recommending channels to most effectively reach audiences, engage new customers and drive purchasing decisions, AI will enable small business owners and decision-makers to make smarter decisions. These decisions will span demographics, shopping habits, and all the factors that go into driving sales and increasing a customer base.
2—Smarter mobile interfaces and user experiences: This strategic shift will also drive new advertising tactics, specifically focused on the power of mobile. Mobile AI interfaces will evolve and reach the always-on consumer wherever they are and whenever they’re online. Virtual assistants and bots will become increasingly important, engaging many audiences the way they want to engage with businesses.
3—Robotics Process Optimizations (RPO) tools will come alive complemented by simple, unified dashboards: In addition, in 2022 we’ll see AI increasingly help small business owners with management of their key processes. The emergence of ecosystems such as single sign-on, single invoice, unified dashboards, and mobile-first solutions will interface with the tools and services small businesses need to run operations from a single platform. By consolidating the selection, activation and use of essential services—such as development and maintenance of an online presence, point of sale system, set up of legal packages, and marketing—will simplify the development and running of a business. AI-based operations and increased automation of key business processes also will increase operational efficiencies and create time to prioritize business growth.
4—AI will help navigate macro-economic climate including trade wars: AI integration will give entrepreneurs the edge they need to become competitive. Managing and growing a small business can be difficult with the constantly shifting business climate, including selling against the trade war and the new tariff backdrop. However, with deeper AI integration in business development, management, and sales strategies, small business owners can take their businesses to the next level—transcending issues that threaten to hold them back and overcoming difficulties in today’s complex business landscape.
5- data cleansing and auto-tagging: In AI, data cleansing and auto-tagging will become widely implemented. Smaller organizations will begin to expect AI functionality in things like spreadsheets, where they’ll be able to parse information out of addresses or clean up inconsistencies. With auto-tagging today, your smart phone can recognize and tag objects in your photos, making your personal photo library much more searchable but in the future, we will start to see business applications auto-tag information to make it much more accessible. Today you can find your top customers in a CRM by running a report and sorting by revenue. In the next five years, you’ll be able to search “top customers” and your CRM will know what you’re looking for.
6- Small businesses will integrate AI into their overall business strategy, in turn transforming business practices and modernizing marketing tactics: In 2022, artificial intelligence will help to close gaps in merchant capabilities that many small businesses with limited resources face. With AI, small businesses can manage their stores seamlessly and efficiently, both by automating work processes (such as employee management, IT service administration, or compliance regulation management) and enabling better inventory and delivery management. AI-based chatbots and virtual assistants further streamline business transactions and increase operational efficiencies, while also providing an optimal customer experience.
We also expect 2022 to bring an uptick in new services that make AI app development more accessible and affordable for small businesses. These services will be similar to those offered by large public cloud providers, but easier to implement and manage, more affordable, and scaled to meet a small business’s needs. Due to their smaller and often nimbler nature, small businesses are poised to more easily and quickly adopt and implement corresponding emerging technologies. While AI efforts in larger enterprises sometimes become isolated and neglected by the overall executive team, in small businesses we expect to see a significant return on investment for AI initiatives as they focus on business-wide alignment, investment, and integration.
In addition to transforming business practices, AI will also transform marketing strategies and tactics. For small businesses that may not have a specialized department or resources available to dedicate solely to marketing, the use of AI assistants can help track metrics, detect anomalies, analyze ads, create and publish content, optimize campaigns, generate reports, and more. Implementation of AI assistants will also be used as a marketing tactic, streamlining the customer experience and improving transactions. In addition to integrating AI assistants into marketing strategies, video; images; and AI assistants will become increasingly important and relevant to SEO. With this, solutions to help SMBs in these areas will grow in popularity.
The days of chatbots killing customer love are numbered: The rise of conversational AI assistants will make chatbots irrelevant in many customer-facing use cases. While the big global technology companies will continue to invest in cracking the code of bringing AI assistants to the mass consumer market, companies (like us) that are laser-focused on solving the specific business problem of front desk customer engagement, efficiency and productivity will win big. Conversational AI assistants that understand context, learn as they go and are easily customizable will rapidly replace the limited, linear chatbots that have failed to live up to their promise of improved customer engagement.
$75 billion business dilemma will find a friend in conversational AI assistants: Franchises and location-based businesses will increase investments in front desk optimization and automation. These organizations will increasingly invest in conversational AI assistants for their front desk operations in order to help counter the estimated $75 billion in lost revenue caused by poor customer services such as missed calls, slow response to leads, and front desk attrition.
AI assistants will help businesses manage the shift to a deskless workforce and gig economy: Some 80% of the global workforce (3 billion people) work in a deskless environment, while ~1% of the world’s software is designed with this workforce in mind. Technology tools, such as conversational AI assistants, that create consistency, connect the dots, and help provide centralized intelligence and analysis will be key. Similarly, as more employees work on a contract or project basis, the knowledge they gain around an organizations’ process and customer engagement simply dissipates when they move to their next gig. In the case of front desk teams, conversational AI assistants will play a critical role in capturing the intelligence of customer engagement patterns and maintaining consistency—thus operational efficiency—in front desk processes.
AI will play a larger role for HR teams: Machine learning is helping to make HR tools smarter. Next year, we’ll see the technology become more useful in previously unexpected ways, such as customizing job board options for candidates and streamlining the scheduling of interviews. We’ll also see AI/machine learning integrated into other aspects of the hiring process. AI can help with mitigation of unconscious bias among hiring managers to increase qualified diversity hires. Also important is the candidate experience. AI and machine learning can support HR teams in offering applicants a more informed and personal candidate experience from start to finish.