Artificial Intelligence and Startups
Much of the time we spend working each day isn’t spent as productively as we’d like; instead, we’re forced to complete routine functions week after week that take up valuable resources better spent on innovation and proactivity. And while big businesses tend to be heavy with human capital able to monotonously tick routine boxes day after day, small businesses and startups generally need to be putting their employees to better use in order to remain competitive. Artificial intelligence, an escalating trend, may hold the key to the improved employment of human resources through the atomization of large parts of workloads. Letting machines conduct routine and simple jobs also provides the benefits of improved productivity, efficiency, and staff morale.
Currently, artificial intelligence technology has the ability to understand and learn from simple tasks, and often is able to find the means of reducing, or entirely eliminating, the need for these tasks. Chatbots already take repetitive information-sharing functions away from personnel who are then freed up to manage more intricate customer service queries, and for the smaller organization with limited customer-facing personnel this can provide an extreme improvement on overall customer service.
At a more sophisticated level, artificial intelligence is used to analyze patterns, and through high-level analytics processes provide insight into marketing, business operations, logistics, and other key business areas. Artificial intelligence can help businesses revise strategies for improved performance and reduced costs, and though the fear exists that current implementations would be too complicated, costly, and disruptive, each new implementation furthers the possibilities of what artificial intelligence can offer.
Surmounting the Obstacles
Determining where best artificial intelligence can benefit a startup or small business means recognizing that while it could offer value to all areas, there are a few that would most readily benefit from its employment. Currently, artificial intelligence is limited and won’t provide the type of judgment and practicality necessary for advanced decision-making. Though able to learn on a rudimentary level it can’t compete with human intelligence and understand important factors of communication such as context; artificial intelligence platforms will often not be able to separate sarcasm or irony from statements, and would likely result in erroneous decisions if expected to. That said, much of the information we’re required to address on a day-to-day basis is very basic and the analysis of this could best be left to machines.
Small businesses would, of course, be hard pressed to invest heavily throughout their organizations in artificial intelligence strategies to improve efficiency, but identifying specific areas for integration could be both cost-effective and simultaneously provide the greatest overall benefit. Finding the most repetitive and tedious tasks and automating them can free up large amounts of time and significantly improve employee happiness. One area particularly suited to this would be data entry, a task that is not only monotonous but also likely to see a higher level of human error due to its dullness.
Always an essential consideration, before artificial intelligence is implemented it’s important to consider the effect on business profits. Though artificial intelligence implementations may improve operations and employee function, the added complexity may also increase costs to the point where efficiency, no matter how much improved, is not resulting in increased return on earnings. Worse still, implementations may cause losses. Choosing less-transformative but simpler artificial intelligence applications would, in this case, provide greater overall value, and recognizing that even the smallest application can offer valuable gains helps us make the right choices.
Just as many modern technologies are limiting the gap between big business and smaller entrepreneurial ventures, artificial intelligence solutions could help the playing field. For now, it’s a matter of starting small and enjoying the advances that are putting improved tools in our hands daily.
By Jennifer Klostermann