It’s not every day that a technology bursts on the scene with the ability to fundamentally change the way that organizations across industries conduct their business. When ChatGPT launched itself to the forefront of the AI (artificial intelligence) conversation, it did just that.
The generative AI tool had a whopping 100 million users sign up within the first two months of its launch. Some early adopters immediately started perfecting prompts to help plan trips, draft resumes, or respond appropriately to that email that’s been sitting in their inbox for three days.
But businesses have also been exploring the best ways to use this technology to boost productivity. On Clutch, we saw demand for artificial intelligence development services grow 377% in the first half of 2023 compared to a year ago.
We’re not the only ones seeing the spike. A report from Grand View Research predicts that AI use will continue to expand with an annual growth rate of 37% between 2023 and 2030. This rapid growth emphasizes the increasing impact of AI technologies in the coming years.
Interest is one thing, but that interest could translate into a big boom for the economy. AI is expected to contribute a significant 21 percent net increase to the United States GDP by 2030, according to Statista.
The impact of artificial intelligence is undeniable, but businesses need to harness it in the right ways to optimize and expand their operations. And these tools and solutions are more accessible than small business leaders may realize.
Changing the Way Organizations Operate
AI isn’t necessarily new to businesses. Organizations have been experimenting with automation and machine learning for years. What has changed is the scale and ease with which businesses can now weave AI-powered tools into their daily operations.
This has some workers concerned—about 77% of employees are worried that AI will cause job loss within the next year, according to Forbes Advisor. But the reality is quite different. When used properly, these tools can free up valuable time for workers to focus on more creative, innovative endeavors.
“Businesses should be viewing AI as a resource, not a role replacement,” says Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs. “You won’t get real business insights from AI that will ever replace your own creative problem-solving and insightful thinking.”
Adoption is poised to be widespread. According to Forbes Advisor, a staggering 97% of business owners believe that ChatGPT will benefit their businesses. One in three businesses plan to use ChatGPT to create website content, while 44% aim to generate content in multiple languages.
What makes ChatGPT and similar generative AI tools especially exciting is their accessibility. Past AI solutions may have felt out of reach for small businesses with limited resources to develop tools that would work within their operations, even though small businesses stand to benefit the most from them. But that’s no longer the case, and small businesses are ripe for AI transformation.
How Small Businesses Can Leverage AI
Small businesses have the most to gain from implementing AI tools. Our research found that 82% of small business leaders believe their businesses will be disrupted by generative AI over the next five years. Efficiency is key when operations have fewer resources, especially when growth is top-of-mind.
One area where generative AI can be particularly impactful is personalizing the user or customer experience. According to McKinsey, 71% of customers want a personalized experience from businesses, and 76% are frustrated when they don’t get that experience.
Here at Clutch, this is clear when users are searching for the right service provider for their needs. “Two firms can use the same marketing language but have different implementation styles,” says Sergei Dubograev, our vice president of development. On the TomTalks podcast, he called this process a prime opportunity to use AI.
“How do you define the difference between them? Which one will be a better fit for a specific buyer with a particular set of business needs?” he said. “In the long term, AI will allow companies to leverage the data they already have to bridge that gap.”
This is what inspired us to develop and launch our own chat tool, ClutchAI, earlier this year. ClutchAI is designed to simplify and personalize the search experience for users, being able to provide customized responses to help users get what they need quickly. Chatbots are a great way for small businesses to provide this kind of experience for a large audience while allowing employees to focus on working to grow the business.
The main departments that we expect AI to support are IT, sales, business development, and marketing. AI can save significant time for IT departments by automating helpdesk requests, troubleshooting support tasks and even detecting security issues. Organizations that don’t have a dedicated IT department can still capitalize on these benefits through outsourcing.
For sales and business development, artificial intelligence can streamline lead generation and top-of-funnel interactions with customers that are more engaging. Generative AI tools can help craft these communications, just as they can help marketing departments develop copy at scale. When leaning on generative AI, it’s crucial to have your employees edit and review with a special eye toward your company’s voice, strategy, and goals.
AI presents almost limitless possibilities when it comes to growing small businesses. Whether it’s automation streamlining a process or generative AI helping customers through their journey, the AI explosion will empower small businesses to be more efficient and effective.
Sonny Ganguly is the CEO of Clutch, the leading global marketplace of B2B service providers.