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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

7 smart ways even small businesses can leverage the power of AI

Artificial intelligence has the potential to streamline everything from data science to content creation.

7 smart ways even small businesses can leverage the power of AI

Artificial intelligence has broken the boundaries of the tech world to become a focus for businesses of every stripe. Articles on the business benefits of AI feature regularly in publications devoted to any and every industry. Small-business owners reading all the ink on AI may think, “That’s great for the big guys, but there’s no way I can afford to set up or use AI.” But they’re very likely wrong about that.

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In today’s market, you don’t need an in-house IT team or deep tech skills to realize the productivity boosts and cost savings of AI. Existing tools and low-code platforms make tapping into the power of AI an achievable goal for businesses of any size and expertise. And you might be surprised at AI’s flexibility—there’s much more AI can do for your business beyond powering a website chatbot.

So what are the ways small businesses of today are leveraging the power of AI? Below, seven members of Fast Company Executive Board share the ways they—and you—can see big benefits from this ever-expanding tech tool.

1. TAP INTO FREE AND LOW-COST TOOLS.

Brainstorm with your team where AI can be applied. As a marketing firm with 50 employees, we downloaded Tensor Flow, a free AI software library, and hired a data scientist to ingest all of the online conversations around a product category to identify “hot button” customer topics and competitive “white spaces.” Our clients loved it, and the tools are free. Talent is cheap—ideas are king. – Mark De L. Thompson, Dialog

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2. TRANSCRIBE YOUR PRESENTATIONS.

Even though it generates valuable leads, creating marketing content can take a lot of time and often isn’t the top priority of small businesses. A very efficient way to create white papers and articles is to use an AI-based speech-to-text tool. This generates great written content from any recorded presentation done at a tradeshow or during a webinar. – Remy Thellier, Syntony GNSS

3. REVIEW PAST PERFORMANCE.

Our 150,000 small-business customers use AI in many ways. They review past data to predict future deal viability, allowing them to prioritize their efforts with the customers most likely to buy or repurchase from them. They review previous interactions to drive future ones. They review communications to determine which have driven engagement from customers in the past so they can choose the best message or offer in the future. – Jason VandeBoom, ActiveCampaign

4. GET HELP WRITING CONTENT.

AI is making breakthroughs in copywriting. While it’s not at a stage where you can just plug in keywords and get a fully useful article, it has reached a point where it can assist your current writing efforts in powerful ways. Experiment with an AI writing tool to generate content ideas, subheadings, or manage the tone of the post. You’ll quickly improve your content. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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5. POWER YOUR PRODUCT PREDICTIONS.

Machine learning is powerful for cognitive insight. By looking at customer data, small companies can help inform the product roadmap and make predictions on what current customers are likely to buy. Machine learning models get better over time, improving the certainty of the predictions, which can be great to increase upsells and prevent churn. – Ximena Hartsock, Phone2Action

6. COVER FRONT-LINE CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT.

AI can be extremely helpful in customer support, especially if a business is dealing with large volumes of clients but doesn’t have the resources to set up a full-blown support department yet. Not every interaction needs a human touch. By using AI for front-line customer engagement, you will improve the customer experience and ease the workload for your team. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

7. THINK ABOUT WHERE YOUR ORGANIZATION NEEDS HELP.

Consult a tech expert to identify areas or processes that might be optimized with advanced technologies like AI and machine learning. At Trevor, we developed an AI-powered tool solely for internal training purposes. AI shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach, and there are likely unexpected components of your business that could benefit from a tailored AI solution. – Amit Paley, The Trevor Project

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