Remember all of those movies that showed a future where computers ruled the world?
Well, that time is technically now.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have made it easy for even small businesses to integrate intuitive features and processes into their workflows.
Once deemed something only capable in science fiction films, computers now have the ability to perform analysis of data to perform tasks faster and more intricately than any human could do.
As a company, utilizing this type of tech is an excellent way to improve performance, outpace the competition, and lower your bottom line over time.
Are you ready to learn more about what this entails and how to implement AI in your business?
Let’s get started.
Why is AI Important to Businesses?
It’s important to remember that using AI is about far more than just keeping track of data and spitting out analytical reports when you need them.
In contrast, the reason it is important to businesses largely has to do with productivity.
Before artificial intelligence became a staple in the many apps and SaaS platforms available, several of the services consumers have come to enjoy today would not be possible.
It would take far too many human team members to accomplish tasks that take seconds to achieve with software.
For example, ordering dinner from DoorDash or calling an Uber all use some form of AI. Once you’ve placed your order or asked for a ride, special software dispatches a local driver to your location within seconds.
Decades ago, this would have required you to make a phone call to an operator, who would then contact a driver to see if they were available.
AI makes it so that the moment you hit a button on your smartphone, that driver knows exactly what you need and where they should go.
And that’s just a small sample of the millions of ways AI has intersected how businesses use tech to solve problems for their target market with software apps.
How to Implement AI in Your Business? 7 Steps to Consider
Of course, learning how to implement AI in your business is about more than just finding a cool app and encouraging your team to utilize it.
Before you commit to a particular platform or tool, you’ll want to ensure it is something that truly improves your workflow and makes it easier for staff to complete tasks.
In addition, you should also ensure it meets the needs of your organization.
Adding AI software for the sake of saying your company is on the cutting edge is never a good idea.
Here are seven steps to consider when implementing AI:
1. Learn What AI Can and Cannot Do
You might be tempted to jump right into adding AI to your workflow, but it is important to first research what this technology can and cannot do.
More specifically, what is possible for your particular niche or industry.
Why intuitive apps that make sales, marketing, and service easier have come a long way at predicting customer desires easier, they are not entirely perfect.
In some instances, adding AI software is merely a waste of time, as the capabilities of AI aren’t quite as refined as they need to be in order to adequately perform well.
For many industries, however, the use of AI is becoming more mainstream.
For example, the medical field is using specific software programs to:
- Help refine diagnosis.
- Keep better track of health records.
- Communicate with patients.
By fully researching your available options and how the AI realm as a whole is constantly evolving, you’ll be able to make a firm decision as to whether adding a specific piece of tech or an app is really a good idea.
2. Think About Your End Goals
Next, think about your end goals for adding AI to your business.
- Is there a particular metric you want to improve?
- Does adding a new software program make it easier to reach your ideal customer or offer a specific service?
With thousands of different options on the market, it is a good idea to use this end-first process to refine the list to those that offer the specific features or capabilities that best suit your organization’s goals.
For this step in the process, you’ll want to brainstorm with various teams like sales, marketing, and customer service to learn what they feel would best help the company reach these goals.
After all, these are the people who will eventually use the software, which makes getting their input incredibly important.
3. Uncover Any Main Value Drivers for Implementing AI
Once you’ve determined your goals and brainstormed with your team, you need to identify the main drivers for implementing artificial intelligence.
For some companies, this might be the ability to increase productivity and drive down operational costs.
In other instances, you could be looking to give your customers better value and more benefits.
Knowing both your organizational goals and how AI can benefit the end-users is crucial.
Because it gives you the two main objectives of what your implementation must achieve in order to be considered successful.
After that, the software or hardware you choose to make the process become a reality is really just a way to achieve these two aspects of operations.
4. Evaluate Internal Capabilities for Tech Adoption
Here’s where things start to get exciting — the actual creation and/or implementation of your tech adoption.
Before you can make a firm decision on how to proceed forward, you need to decide what your internal capabilities as a business are for making this happen.
During this time, you’ll want to ask several questions.
- First, are there enough in-house employees who are skilled in this type of process?
- And, second, do you have the budget to outsource it?
In some instances, your company might be so small that integrating an existing SaaS or another widespread solution is your only option.
Other enterprise-level organizations might go the opposite direction, hiring team members to complete the project or outsourcing a custom solution to a tech firm.
5. Build or Integrate the System
It is important to note that custom AI technology takes time to build from scratch, simply because algorithms can get very complicated.
If this is the route you’re taking, be prepared to wait several months or even over a year to finally get to the final stages.
However, using a premade system is usually a lot quicker to integrate.
In that scenario, your company will likely work with a rep from the AI company to install the software app, train staff, etc.
This is definitely something you don’t want to rush.
Too many big brands and corporations have learned the hard way that jumping into AI without taking adequate time to set it up correctly can lead to things like data breaches, system failures, and mistakes by improperly trained employees.
6. Test the System for a Period of Time
Once your new AI program or technology is operational, it is time to test the system for a predetermined period of time.
Depending on your industry and how the platform is used, this can range anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
During that time, it is important to keep track of data to see where you’re making strides in reaching your overall goals.
- Are clients more satisfied with the service they’re receiving thanks to your new AI implementation?
- Do employees work more quickly and efficiently now that they have this upgrade?
When you can look at concrete facts like order times, sales improvements, productivity and achievements, you can make bigger decisions about how to implement AI in your business.
7. Make Refinements
In comparison, AI is a fairly new type of tech in the business world.
Once you have a reasonable amount of data as to how well a particular solution is working for your company, you can start to make refinement changes.
Maybe this is something as simple as altering algorithm settings on how customers are contacted or interact with the app.
Perhaps it is a lot more intricate, like completely overhauling what employees can do with a specific feature.
There are a lot of variables, but the main idea really comes down to one thing: whether the AI is working optimally or if you need to make changes to improve the results.
Benefits of AI Implementation
Now that we’ve covered why AI implementation is important for businesses and the general process of how it happens, let’s look at the benefits of doing so.
AI Makes Customer Service Easier
Your customers want the ability to get the answers they need, when they need them.
With AI, this process is greatly improved.
Through the use of chatbots and automated messaging, individuals can get the surface-level answers they need quickly and easily.
Then, if additional follow-up is required, the software can direct a real person to get in touch.
Ultimately, this leads to a higher level of customer satisfaction and a better reputation as an organization.
Software Programs with AI Can Improve Scheduling and Billing
Scheduling and billing are two areas where a lot of companies struggle.
Thankfully, there are a ton of AI programs out there that streamline the overall process and make it much easier to handle.
For example, a plumbing company that uses AI to dispatch emergency repair personnel and gives the customer real-time GPS tracking of where the technician is at could save a ton of time and effort.
Furthermore, automated billing through AI makes it more likely that your company will get paid by the client.
There are literally thousands of examples of why this works, but the main point is that AI takes those ordinary tasks and simplifies them for better results.
Artificial Intelligence Saves Time and Money
When it all comes down to it, the reason why so many companies are utilizing AI in their operations is that it saves an incredible amount of time and money.
After all, when things like customer service, appointments, sales, and other elements are handled by a computer, the need for man-hours dramatically decreases.
The end result is a lower payroll cost and better productivity for the staff members you do have, which ultimately affects your bottom line over the long haul.
AI Implementation Success Stories
Are you looking for a few examples of companies that have successfully implemented AI into their operations?
➤ Amazon recently implemented an AI system at a convenience store in Washington. There, cameras keep track of customer interactions with items and reduce checkout line times.
➤ Twitter utilizes AI to detect potential instances of hate speech or terrorism within user content. While this usage of artificial intelligence is not perfect, it does help cut down on some of the issues.
➤ Starbucks uses AI to determine when a customer is near a geofence of one of their stores. In response, a message pops up on the screen to alert the customer of the opportunity to place an order.
And these are just three of the many, many ways AI now intersects our daily lives as consumers and within a B2B environment.
Wrap Up: Implementing AI in Your Business and Why It Matters
As technology continues to improve, the idea of implementing AI in your business is no longer something straight out of Hollywood.
The future is here and opting for this kind of tech in your organization is a good way to stay competitive within the marketplace.
Ready to know more about this topic?
Then check out our recorded webinar on the role of AI in marketing, with Paul Roetzer, the founder and CEO of PR 20/20 and the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute.