In 2001, Artificial Intelligence was just a movie, the context we thought would have remained pure science fiction for decades to come. It was the same year Generation Z—the millennials— were first born. That generation is now moving into the work force, but it’s a very different work force compared to 2001. Artificial intelligence algorithms are everywhere but most people don’t even know they are being used. For example, when you take a photo on your smart phone and the camera locks onto an image of a face, that’s AI at play. The ads you get served up on a social media platform, all decided upon by an AI algorithm. The driverless car is not far away either!
However, AI has typically historically been reserved for big business because they have the budget and resources to build the applications, however, the technology is more assessable than ever before and small business can make use of AI as well, especially if they have customer data, but for all sorts of applications outside of customer data too.
Caption: Big data is changing small business
Perhaps the most common early adopters in small business are in the financial services space. With rising compliance costs off the back of the Royal Commission many small businesses are using AI to help streamline their processed. For example, financial advisers are turning to AI to help automate the advice process and they are also using AI to help isolate advice statements that might not be compliant. Small online lending businesses are using AI to determine good loan candidates.
It’s not only financial services businesses that are benefiting from big data and AI. If you’re a business that has a customer list, AI is increasingly being used to determine which customers to cross market to, what products to cross market to them and when to do it. There are even companies in the market place who have AI algorithms to value data for small and large businesses to that the data asset can go onto the balance sheet. This can help with trade sales or boosting the balance sheet to make the financial look more attractive if you are looking for finance. Often small businesses will not make any provision at all on their balance sheet for data assets or have no idea on where to start to make that provisions. Accountants too are not well equipped to do this sort of work, it’s an emerging space.
Automated systems can replace many overhead and work twenty-four hours, seven days a week without getting sick or demanding salary appraisals. While some people are apprehensive about technology replacing humans, the general consensus is that AI will replace repetitive tasks, so labor can be used more effectively in areas that don’t require mundane work. Take for example a legal firm who need to find all the relevant legislation regarding a current case. Rather than have someone troll through the archives an AI algorithm can do this, which will enable the law firm to spend more time writing appropriate advice to the client. Resources will just be moved into more efficient areas. If you speak to those close to AI space, there is not that feat that AI will reduce jobs, moreover, AI has the potential to significantly increase the level of employment. However, it’s small business that perhaps stands the most to gain in future years as AI becomes more and more accessible.