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20 December 2018 | By Stacey McIntosh Community

The benefits of AI and automation for SMEs

Beyond the hype of artificial intelligence, there are tangible benefits that even small businesses can realise. Sage has produced a guide to make it simple to understand

There’s plenty of discussion at the moment around artificial intelligence and its ever increasing presence in our lives. Every day there are new stories about the latest ground-breaking innovations in AI. However, other than winning board games and offering the quickest route to the shops, many entrepreneurs are left questioning the tangible benefits of implementing this new technology for their business.

This is of particular concern to small business owners who may believe that AI is beyond their budget. However, intelligent machines have already entered our homes in the form of smart devices and personal home assistants at a price point not just reserved for the wealthy. Similarly, AI has the potential to open new doors for businesses of all sizes. Indeed, the workplace of 2025 could be unrecognisable as a result of this technology; that’s why it’s important to take advantage of it now.

 

Productivity

One of the major advantages of AI and automation is its ability to make your business run more efficiently. Many of the day-to-day tasks that a business undertakes can be automated, including email marketing, scheduling meetings, team management, invoicing and accounting.

As AI has improved it has also gained the ability to complete more complex tasks. Intelligent chatbots can now answer frequently asked questions reducing the time spent dealing with customers. While AI algorithms can work through extremely large datasets to discover insights that are less obvious to humans. With the added bonus of being able to work outside of the traditional nine to five and at a consistent pace, this can also help reduce the level of human error and business downtime. 

Cost Savings

Not only can most repetitive tasks be completed more efficiently by automated systems, saving time, materials and reducing error, using them also frees up staff to work within other areas of the business. While the initial outlay on some manufacturing or robotic systems may be high, the cost benefits that they provide normally outweighs this in the long term.

Additionally, AI can monitor your business spending and is able to display areas where cost savings can be made or offer money management tips for running your company more efficiently.

Safety

While you can never guarantee the safety of your employees, the cause of accidents in the workplace is often down to human error. Therefore the ability of AI to complete the same task repeatedly without mistakes can help reduce the risk of accidents significantly.

Looking further into the future, if your business relies on haulage systems or transport of any means then the future of the roads also looks safer with a reduction in accidents through the wider use of self-driving vehicles.

Innovation

While there have been tests with AI creative writing, the technology is not yet at the stage where it matches human creativity. Nevertheless, AI has been able to produce financial earning reports, product descriptions and basic sports journalism, which has freed up time for staff to work on other projects.

Applying AI to work on repetitive or mundane tasks will allow your staff to concentrate on innovation and development. Ideally, AI will also help you to make more informed decisions by providing deeper insights into your audience and their needs and can reveal new niches that your business can grow into.

It’s a fast moving world out there and a tough environment for businesses to strive. However, it is clear that businesses of all sizes can realise the potential of AI and automation.

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