The excitement and hype of Intelligent Technology such as Artificial Intelligence algorithms, natural language based chat bots or predictive analytics and business intelligence has been around for some time starting with small specialized Cloud services till self-driven cars, innovative robots and independent drones coming straight out of sci-fi movies, ready to threaten the mankind. Many are still incredulous that this fancy and flashy technology will reach its potential in business (especially for small and medium business), however nobody can’t deny the fact that Intelligent Technologies has started to easy but shortly penetrate the daily life of common people due to permanent interaction with Smartphones, intelligent houses and entertainment with voice integration like Alexa, Siri or Cortana or either VR enhanced water slides. Gartner has predicted that over the next decade, there is no organization, industry, or business segment that is going to completely avoid being touched by these Intelligent Technologies.
So even as AI and ML is the penetrating deeper and deeper our daily life and as end consumer we can afford to buy it and use it managing and enjoying its disruption, it is still a general perception that SMEs shy away from such new age technologies which implies total transformation and high costs. Possibly due to relatively lesser understanding of the Intelligent technologies as well as the myth surrounding that these technologies are meant only for the bigger sharks of the business.
For any new tech trends to have mass adoption it must satisfy two conditions firstly the technology must be affordable and accessible and secondly there must be awareness and understanding of the technology so that the business can derive meaningful values from them. While AI and its related tech are becoming increasingly affordable for even microbusinesses however when it comes to understanding the true business value that these technologies will bring is still questionable at least for the SME market.
That’s why in this blog post I am going to address some of the biggest problem which the SME businesses face today and how to fix them with Intelligent technology.
Target Sales and Marketing: Gone are the old traditional “One Size Fits All” Approach of Marketing. With increasing number of Customer going Digital this is the age of Personalised Marketing. The Sales Strategy which works for some customer might not work for another customer. While for bigger Companies, it is easy to spend Humongous amount of Time and Money to study the market and create personalised Sales and Market Portfolio’s for each customer Group, SME’s with constraint on Resources and stricter timeline usually fall behind this strategy.
Using Machine Learning Trained Models based on the existing historical data, enterprise can easily find out and segregate different Customer groups, run marketing campaign and survey specific to the needs. With the help AI Predictive capabilities find out Leads / Opportunity which have more chances of conversion so that your Sales managers can focus on opportunities/Leads with the highest probability of closing.
Managing Cash Flow : For every business to run, cash is needed in hand. Business owners often do unrealistic planning around their cashflow, overestimating the profits and underestimating the expense. Late and outstanding payments, overspending, overtrading is some of the red signals which could throw your cash flow balance. Sometime this can also force business to suspend their operations. The key to solve this problem is to have a track on every transaction, keeping a cash flow forecast, monitoring market condition, and keeping an eye on supplier and customer who might give you a trouble.
With the help of Intelligent AI Services Predictive Capabilities and Machine learning, businesses can automate their account receivable and payables, Proposing and matching open receivables for incoming bank statement items, Sales and collection forecasting and track customer who can default.
Customer Support and Retention: Customer is King and regardless of the type of business or industry, global sales and great customer service are becoming more and more important to business success. There’s greater expectation of timely replies while providing excellent service. Unfortunately for small business this means shelling out more money on customer support. However, if businesses start using Chatbots and Digital Assistant businesses could provide an instant service that never sleeps while increasing sales.
Managing Resources: By Using Robotic Process Automation, SME’s can manage the repetitive task of data entry effectively without dedicating too much resources. RPA can be used to bring efficiency in all sort of work which require data normalization and the creation or updating of metadata. Robotic Process Automation when combined with AI Intelligent Services are capable of even automating and handling very complex processes such as Order to Cash or Procure to Pay. Another beauty of RPA is it can be used or operated with very less technical understanding of the user; hence RPA is a very effective ways of boosting productivity of your workplace.
Streamlining Human Resources Task - Your people are your greatest resources. To achieve your business goals, you must hire the right talent, nurture them and keep them engaged. However, with number of low value task such as shifting through many resumes, filtering the correct resume, common employee question regarding policy and procedure, leave little time for them to concentrate on more important and strategic part of the HR job. Artificial Intelligence can look through hundreds of resumes in significantly less time than it would take a human.
It can quickly analyse the candidate skill set, gather more information about the candidate and speed up the hiring process. With the help of Chatbot and Digital assistance, it can help in employee on-boarding, helping with the most common questions that new hire ask employee as well analyse the attrition pattern in a company.
There are only couple of high business value possible scenarios I covered here and there are so many more we can speak about in my next blogs, but what I want to underline is that it’s time SMEs move away from the wait and watch approach and start having conversations around the business value creation and a strategic plan to reap the benefits of the Intelligent Tech Revolution. The key is to define your business case, set specific Goals what you want to achieve, get in touch with External Experts, carry out a Pilot project and start integrating Intelligent Technology into daily operations of your company. And given the impact of Corona Pandemic the impulse of unexpected mass digital transformation is the needed kick which each small or medium business should not ignore it.