Have you ever listened to a recommended song on a streaming service? Asked a smart speaker about the weather? Fixed typos in a document thanks to autocorrect? If so, you’ve engaged with artificial intelligence (AI).
AI technologies have been proliferating in our daily lives and work for many years. The recent launch of publicly accessible AI tools, like large language model tool ChatGPT, is raising awareness of the technology’s expanding capabilities.
As a small business owner, what do you need to know to create a successful AI strategy? Here’s how to approach and implement artificial intelligence in business.
Table of Contents
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to technology that can perform functions associated with human cognition, such as learning, problem-solving, and creativity. There are different forms of AI, but the field can generally be broken into two primary types:
- Machine learning. This refers to AI technology that makes decisions based on the data it is given. A streaming service algorithm is an example of machine learning: The technology collects data on your song preferences based on what you listen to, then analyzes your data to suggest new songs it thinks you might like.
- Deep learning. A subset of machine learning, deep learning layers multiple algorithms to create what’s called an “artificial neural network” modeled after the human brain, allowing it to learn and draw new conclusions beyond the data it’s originally given. Instead of recommending an existing song, for example, deep learning models could create entirely new songs based on your music preferences. Large language models like GPT-3 and GPT-4 are a subtype of deep learning.
How is AI used in business?
Companies can use AI tools to improve business processes, increase productivity, and support employees in their current roles. There are multiple business applications for artificial intelligence; a 2023 poll from Gartner showed that nearly half of executives plan to increase investments in AI for business. That said, AI isn’t a replacement for human jobs—it’s a resource that requires humans to set up and prompt it to do specific tasks. Here are four applications of this emerging business technology.
1. Customer service
By automating replies to many customers’ common administrative or technical queries, AI can help your customer service team improve response times and lower costs. It also frees up customer experience team members to focus on more complex customer questions. A few examples of AI tools for customer service include:
- Chatbots. Chatbots simulate human conversations to answer a customer’s questions quickly. They are one of the most popular AI technologies, with more than 40% of business-to-consumer (B2C) companies and nearly 60% of business-to-business (B2B) companies using chatbots on their websites.
- Self-service resources. AI tools, like ChatGPT or other software that have integrated AI, can help generate content for your website’s help or FAQ pages based on common customer questions you receive, your product features, and existing resources.
- Translation. If your business operates globally or serves a multilingual customer base, AI can support real-time translation on your website and even over the phone.
2. Sales and marketing
Companies can use AI as part of their sales business strategy to grow leads and reduce costs. There are several ways AI can support sales and marketing business functions:
- Product descriptions. Given a few key details, AI can generate product descriptions in just a few seconds. This can be a powerful move to grow revenue, because the way you frame your product plays a huge role in whether a customer decides to make a purchase. AI can also generate many variants of one product description, so you can quickly test messages against each other and determine which is most effective.
- Personalized recommendations. By analyzing customer data such as browsing history and purchase behavior, AI tools can create customized product recommendations for specific individuals. Ecommerce personalization improves people’s experience on your site and may help in driving more sales.
- Predictive analytics. AI can help you forecast customer behavior by analyzing current data to identify trends and patterns. That allows you to optimize your marketing efforts to target the right audience at the right time.