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Can SMBs Afford Not to Invest in AI Technology?

3 Mins read

The bottom line: in business, technology accelerates growth and drives success. For small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), AI technology holds boundless opportunities to alleviate the burden of repetitive tasks, avoid human error, and do more with less. For SMBs who operate on a tight budget, it can often be challenging to allocate resources to traditionally smaller yet critically important teams like IT – making it even more important to choose the right tools that optimize, automate, and provide a return on productivity.

Whether your SMB is navigating the challenges of economic uncertainty, looking to enhance the critically important customer experience, streamline internal operations – or all the above – emerging AI technologies are poised to be a game-changer for lean teams. With the reality of new uncertainties every day, it’s a critical time for decision-makers to consider if they can afford not to invest, adopt, and work alongside AI.

AI-Accessibility  

For business leaders, the perceived high cost associated with AI-powered tools remains a top barrier to adoption. Custom-built AI systems are indeed likely to come with a steep price tag. However, as a result of a fast-evolving industry and technological advancements, pre-built AI solutions are now readily available and affordable. Today, AI-powered business tools can be accessed for as little as $0-$500/month – which is good news for budget-conscious SMBs. In fact, according to a recent study, 47% of businesses with 50 to 99 employees reported that AI technologies and tools have actually helped them to cut costs, which equated to an estimated  $37k per year saved.

When looking to incorporate AI technology into your operations, it’s important to first evaluate the tools and platforms that are already within your team’s tech stack. Companies of all sizes are joining the AI gold rush and scrambling to incorporate the buzziest new tech into their products and services. AI now plays a key role in many tools that small businesses rely on every day –  from SEO services like Japser.ai to collaboration and IT management solutions like GoTo. It’s possible that the tools your team is already using may have untapped AI capabilities or those features could be added soon. By considering existing tools and tech investments, your team may be able to save time and money while simultaneously discovering new and beneficial opportunities.

Superpowered Customer Experiences

For businesses of any size, profitability is heavily dependent on customer satisfaction. Research has shown that a growing number of customers expect personalized, seamless, streamlined, and swift customer service. Today, we live in an on-demand world. Customers want a superior customer experience, immediate response, and an instant solution – and AI can help make that happen. With personalized CX accounting for a 60% increase in potential profitability, SMBs are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity to supercharge their critically important customer experience.

According to a survey by McKinsey, businesses that use AI in their operations report an average revenue increase of 10% to 20%. For teams of all sizes, AI supports a streamlining of operations and can alleviate the burden of redundant manual tasks – freeing your team to focus on tasks that require higher-level thinking and ultimately benefit the company’s bottom line.

Outside of use cases across marketing and CX, AI can also benefit by aiding overburdened IT teams – a key priority for 48% of decision-makers at companies with less than 1,000 employees.  In addition to automating repetitive tasks, AI can be leveraged to help IT teams make more informed decisions in data-intensive situations and better protect sensitive customer data. Today, with the advancement of low-code chatbots, organizations of all sizes can set up and operate AI-powered support systems – without the need for advanced knowledge. Some of these bots have out-of-the box API functionality that can provide advanced automation for end users. This enables organizations to empower IT teams to scale with the business by augmenting staff and empowering resource allocation towards higher-priority work. As customer expectations and security threats evolve, business leaders should prioritize improved internal and external efficiency, productivity, and digital protection measures that ultimately benefit both businesses and their customers.

Futureproofing

By any measure, the SMB community is a vital part of our economy. According to a recent CNBC survey, 44% of owners would describe the current economic state as “poor.” With looming economic uncertainty, digital agility has become essential when it comes to futureproofing your business. And while the long-term impact of the turbulent economic outlook remains to be seen, incorporating AI technology is one direct way to set up your small business up for sustainable growth – and the flexibility to respond to whatever comes next. As we collectively navigate the reality of new uncertainties every day, it is critical time for SMB leaders to consider if they can afford to ignore the bottom-line business benefits of AI technology.

Damon Covey is the SVP, Head of Product at GoTo, the company making IT management, support, and business communication easy.

AI stock image by Jinning Li/Shutterstock

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