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What is AI and When Should Small Businesses Use It


AI, or artificial intelligence, has recently been all the rage, however, it’s been around since 1951 when an automated checkers bot was created by Cristopher Strachey from the University of Manchester, England (Forbes, The Pros And Cons of Artificial Intelligence). Back then, artificial intelligence was synonymous with robots, but today AI is broadly referring to technology known as "machine learning.” Machine learning uses software algorithms that are able to learn and improve as they are exposed to more and more data.


AI comes in a wide range of applications from Alexa and Siri to automated cars, facial recognition software, Chat GPT - to name just a few. It is no longer used solely for academic purposes or for Silicon Valley tech giants. There are AI applications that can be used in any industry, for any business, or for any individual that can revolutionize both how we work and how we live.


Artificial intelligence reduces human error, analyzes a large amount of data in record time, and never gets tired or “hits a wall” like humans can. It’s consistent. It’s accurate. It saves time and money. However, it lacks creativity, empathy, and that “human element” of decision making that can be more important at times than speed and consistency. Therefore, when does it make sense to incorporate AI into your business?


As a general rule of thumb, AI is best used to accomplish repetitive tasks that rely on consistency, accuracy, and a high level of data analysis. It should not be used when the task requires creativity, a personal touch, or making a complex decision where human interaction and judgment are needed.


Here are a few ways to consider adding AI into your workplace:

  1. Customer service: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can handle customer inquiries and provide support 24/7. This improves customer service and response times, even for small businesses with limited staff.

  2. Competitive advantage: Small businesses can leverage AI technologies to help them analyze market trends, identify emerging opportunities, and stay ahead of their competitors.

  3. Data analysis: AI algorithms can analyze large amounts of data quickly and identify patterns, trends, and insights that may not be apparent to humans. This helps small businesses make informed decisions, improve marketing strategies, and personalize customer experiences.

  4. Personalization: AI enables small businesses to personalize their interactions with customers by analyzing their preferences, purchase history, and behavior. This allows for tailored product recommendations, customized marketing campaigns, and enhanced customer satisfaction.

  5. HR Operations and Administration: AI can automate several administrative HR tasks, such as payroll processing, benefits administration, and PTO management. This reduces manual errors, improves efficiency, and allows HR professionals to focus on strategic initiatives that drive organizational growth.

  6. Employee Engagement and Feedback: AI-powered survey tools and sentiment analysis algorithms can measure employee satisfaction, engagement, and sentiment.


As with anything new that gets implemented into your business, incorporating AI does require careful planning and consideration. Small businesses should assess their specific needs, budget, and resources to determine the most appropriate AI applications for their operations. In addition, they may also want to put in place workplace policies related to the use of AI and assign a point person to oversee any AI issues.


Below is a list of some of the AI tools that were recently highlighted in a Forbes and Unite.AI article for your review.

  1. ChatGPT - This tool will output text in any form, including prose, poetry, and even computer code after being given a prompt.

  2. Lumen5 - A video creation tool that enables anyone to create education, marketing, or business video content using a simple drag-and-drop interface.

  3. Podcastle - An audio recording and editing platform with integrated AI tools that helps anyone create clear, super-smooth recordings that sound as if they’ve been edited professionally.

  4. Legal Robot - This tool is designed to automatically translate complex and confusing “legalese” into straightforward language that can be understood by anyone. It’s useful for not only understanding legal documents, but also to ensure your business’ legal documents are written in terms that can be understood by anyone.

  5. Fireflies - This tool plugs into popular video conferencing tools like Zoom, Teams, or Webex and automates the process of taking notes and creating transcriptions.

  6. Tidio - This tool offers a simplified solution for businesses to add a chatbot to their website. Instantly, you can chat with customers and solve their problems in real-time. It also makes it easy to offer perks such as custom discounts based on browsing history. The AI can also make product recommendations based on their behavior.

  7. Synthesys - This tool develops algorithms for text-to-voiceover and videos for commercial use. Synthesys aims to help enhance video content, such as explainer videos and product tutorials, in just a matter of minutes.

  8. Reply.io - This is a sales engagement platform powered by ChatGPT to set up outreach sequences, handle prospect responses, and book meetings. The platform enables the easy application of filters to target the prospects most likely to buy your product or services. The AI tool creates sequences with the initial email, follow-ups, and social touches while suggesting other channels to reach out to prospects on your behalf.

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