How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Canadian Small Businesses

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly evolving technology that has the potential to transform various aspects of Canadian small businesses. From improving customer service and marketing, to enhancing productivity and innovation, AI can help small businesses gain a competitive edge in the global market. However, many small business owners may not be aware of the benefits and challenges of AI, or how to implement it in their operations. In this article, we will explore some of the ways that AI can help Canadian small businesses, as well as some of the best practices and resources for adopting AI.

According to the Harvard Business Review, companies do better by taking an incremental rather than a transformative approach to developing and implementing AI, and by focusing on augmenting rather than replacing human capabilities. “Low-hanging fruit” projects that enhance business processes are much more likely to succeed rather than transformative “moon shots”, which generally come with the best of intentions, but rarely succeed. Sometimes, when you shoot for the moon you don’t land among the stars.

How do you avoid making a big mistake with your artificial intelligence (AI) integration? Find some inspiring low-hanging fruit projects that can enhance your business’ productivity here.

Choose the Business Process, Not the AI Technology

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that want to upgrade their process should first look through the lens of business capabilities rather than the AI technologies. This will help you find those low-hanging fruit opportunities for transformation. AI tech can be three broad categories: Robotics and Cognitive Automation, Cognitive Insight, and Cognitive Engagement.

Infographic about Artificial Intelligence for Small to Medium Enterprises showing robotics and cognitive automation, cognitive insight, and cognitive engagement definitions.

Making Businesses More Efficient with Robotics and Cognitive Automation 

The automation of digital and physical tasks is a very common place where SMEs can adopt new artificial intelligence processes. It’s one of the cheapest and easiest ways to add AI to your business processes, and reports show that it doesn’t replace administrative employees, unless you’ve already out-sourced the work already. Most “off-shore” jobs can also be automated, so if your SME already uses these type of tools, they might be ripe for transformation.

Here are a few AI automation projects your SME can adopt to improve business efficiency, productivity and competitiveness:

  • Fraud detection
  • Service chatbots
  • Risk management
  • Credit scoring
  • Document analysis
  • Supplier selection and evaluation
  • Demand forecasting
  • Spend analysis
  • Automating manual tasks such as invoice processing, reconciliation, and approval

2. Gaining Insight Through Data Analysis

Cognitive insight uses artificial intelligence to find patterns in the vast reams of data and interpret their meaning. The Harvard Business Review calls it “analytics on steroids”. The difference between cognitive insight and plain old analytics is that AI data analysis is much more data-intensive and detailed, it uses a big dataset to train the models on, and the models improve over time as they use new data to make predictions and categorize.

Examples of Cognitive Insight projects your SME can adopt include:

  • Predicting the number and type of purchases a customer may make
  • Detecting fraud activity
  • Accelerating the recruitment process with automated job search and onboarding
  • Providing insurance quotes based on the likelihood of a claim
  • “Extreme personalization” – AI-created customer profiles that can serve personalized recommendations based on purchase history, location, and a host of other metrics

3. Creating a Better Customer Engagement Experience

Adding artificial intelligence processes into the customer service experience will help you understand your customers’ preferences better and can help predict better outcomes in the customer life cycle. You can create personalized recommendations that feature products or services relevant to them and their buying habits. 

It’s all about taking the friction out of the customer buying process. With personalized suggestions, artificial intelligence removes the customer’s need to browse and find the items they want. You boost sales and build loyalty into the buying process.

How can Customer Engagement AI tools help businesses? 

  • Provide customer service
  • Better customer feedback
  • Streamline marketing and sales journeys
  • Engage in more languages
  • Create contextual advertising

AI can be a powerful tool for Canadian small businesses, but it can also be a complex and daunting topic. That’s why OK Digital Content is here to help you understand and implement AI in your business processes and customer journey. OK Digital Content is a leading digital marketing agency in Southwestern Ontario that specializes in creating engaging and effective content. Whether you need a website, blog, social media, video, or podcast, we can help you create content that attracts, converts, and retains your customers. Contact us today to let us show you how AI can help your business grow and thrive.

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