23 Aug Automation, logic, and data analytics in your small business
The modern age we live in revolves around technology. Every part of our lives, from the moment we get out of bed in the morning, is influenced by it somewhere along the line – we are entirely reliant on tech to give us the quality of life we have all become accustomed to. That reliance is only going to grow as technology continues to advance and our lives continue to become even more saturated by it.
AI and Machine Learning
One of the biggest advancements we have seen in technology in recent times is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation. This is the first technological advancement that allows human influence to be stripped back and technology to take over.
AI and Machine Learning may sound like something from a sci-fi movie and perhaps feel entirely irrelevant and out of your reach as a small business – however, its application is as relevant to you even if on a much more pared down level. AI isn’t just robots or large computerised systems that are designed to replace the human workforce. Despite having a rather grand and complex title, in a small business sense, AI would refer to logical computerised automated processes that would live inside your CRM or ERP software, or among many of the other Cloud-based apps that you rely upon in day-to-day business.
Machine Learning is a form of AI that allows the system to learn and improve from its experiences without being programmed specifically for that job – an amazing leap forward for tech! AI focuses on computer systems that try to replicate human skills, whereas Machine Learning processes data, recognising patterns in order to develop algorithms. AI and Machine Learning are the future of technology worldwide.
In a business environment of ever constrained resources, it makes complete commercial sense to utilise tools such as AI to ensure you get the most in efficiency and productivity from your workforce. Let the technology take care of the routine and mundane tasks, allowing your team to focus their attention on the exceptions that require the human touch.
Are AI and Machine Learning a Threat or a Benefit?
A lot of business owners are apprehensive about placing all their faith in technology – and can you blame them? There is nothing quite like the human touch, or is there? Think of all the benefits of putting a vital role in the hands of a machine – no sick days, and guaranteed 100% effort every time! On the other hand, it is no lie that AI and Machine Learning will have a big impact on the way your team work, how your organisation deals with customers and the customer experience, and how your business communicates and relates to others that you associate with. But, for all these changes, AI is simply revolutionary and cannot be ignored. With its capabilities your organisation will be able to perform tasks at a much faster rate and to a guaranteed higher standard every single time, because a computer never has an off day. Two of the key benefits of AI are the ability to be more productive and reduce your costs of manual labour. Although every business has ways of doing things – or even employee personal habits – that don’t suit the change, these can severely hinder the possibilities of AI.
Technology can reduce the burden on many different parts of your organisation, but none more so than the administrative constraints that every organisation has to deal with. With technology taking that burden off your hands it will allow your team to use their time for tasks that involve more creative influence, or even give you the confidence to bolster other parts of your organisation that can’t be as influenced by tech (like your sales and marketing teams). By digitising administrative duties you are also making the details of your organisation more accessible; before, a human would have to manually process data – this could take days at a time and still not be thorough – but now, digital solutions will dissect that data for you in a much more efficient and detailed way.
The challenges of AI
Your business will have to prepare for the integration of AI. There may be costs attached to the implementation of any system-based changes, and there will more than likely be a requirement for a considerable time investment in initially, mapping out all of the variables of your business processes. It is not uncommon for the way you do things now to be contained within the brains of your team members, however a computer system will only know what it has been programmed to do – therefore all of the paths that your workflow may take must be considered and built into your new digital environment.
The value of the investment that you have made will likely take some time to be realised – as is the case with all innovation, the cost savings and efficiencies may not be immediately evident on the bottom line but will become apparent in the fullness of time.
A change such as this must be done gradually, both for the benefit of your business and your employees – by staggering its implementation it gives your team a chance to learn the new features and become familiar with them. A slow and steady implementation will allow your system to be able to cope with the change, whereas a one-time implementation has the power to have the opposite effect and actually make things slower and less efficient due to users having little or even no idea how to use the new technologies correctly.
Despite some of the challenges, organisations around the world – in particular the larger corporations – are choosing to migrate to AI and Machine Learning capable systems. The lure of near perfection is too good for most to pass up, as perfection practically guarantees dominance in their selective industries. Given time, AI will eventually not just be a part of every industry around the world but it will transform them too, and it’s this reason why incorporation is a when rather an if, whether you are the CEO of a big successful corporation or just starting out your small local business.
The benefits of AI to a small business
Accurate decision making
Decisions can be made digitally with AI. It allows you to place your full trust in your technology to always do what’s best for your business 100% of the time, with minimal errors – you simply can’t guarantee anything even close to this with your human team.
Improved recruitment process
You possibly don’t have a dedicated HR department at all in your small business, and that is understandable as the bulk of human resource tasks can be overwhelming and time consuming for business owners who are already busy. Now you can place this task on the shoulders of AI and Machine Learning. HR is one of the sectors of business that are experiencing all the benefits AI has to offer, by helping to reduce repetitive tasks, lessen manual work, and speed up operations. With the help of revolutionary technology – such as AI-enabled applicant tracking systems – you can develop job searches, browse CVs, and pick the right range of top candidates quickly and easily. AI even allows you to conduct an initial interview without any human involvement at all, and, no, it’s not them sitting in a room on their own talking to a robot – it will be automated questions over the internet, all of which will allow you to spend your valuable time only on applicants that actually have a chance of being right for the role. This also ensures an unbiased, objective selection process based around equal opportunity.
Interaction whilst mobile
AI is hard wired into all modern mobile smartphones in Microchips. The Microchips are very high performing and they allow end users real-time abilities like improved speech recognition and translation. These are the features that make your business accessible to anyone globally regardless of the language they speak.
The customer experience is arguably the most important factor in any business around the world, whatever its size. AI and Machine Learning have the potential – and are expected – to revolutionise customer support over the coming years. With the help of AI powered software and sentiment analysis technology, responding to customer concerns effectively will be significantly easier and more effective. With AI and Machine Learning complaints and queries can be handled more effectively, especially with them being mostly script driven. Incorporated into these are software for live chat (chatbot technology), which will help give quick and accurate answers as well as build greater engagement with your target market.
The very top of your concerns – as a small business owner – in the modern world should be cyber security. AI and Machine Learning isn’t reserved for the good guys – cyber criminals will be using it as well. With AI and Machine Learning fraud can be detected, and software and apps can self-adjust and learn from the current situation, so if you implement AI and Machine Learning your small business can be a safer place. AI can identify the vulnerabilities of the security of your system, and Machine Learning can interpret the information and Algorithms, ensuring that better defence strategies are implemented going forward. Advanced levels of security are good for everyone; you can make a previously impossible guarantee to your customers that their data is safe while boosting the levels of trust they have in you and your organisation.
The purpose of AI and Machine Learning is to bolster your already successful tech in your organisation. Whether your business is large or small, changes will need to be made in order for it to be a success. Unfortunately, one of your team may become surplus to requirements upon the implementation of AI and Machine Learning due to cost, but technology is clearly the better solution regarding productivity and an effective use of time in the already too short workday. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the team member is hopeless – this is an opportunity for them to re-tool and re-equip themselves to be beneficial in the new, modern world of work – a modern world of work that is entirely dominated by technology. We understand the apprehension from most, and the desire to put it off, because they aren’t common practice yet, but it is time to learn and adapt to the new ways things are going to be done, and by doing this now you will be that step ahead of your competition.
AI technology continues to revolutionise the capabilities of small businesses around the world. Businesses in the modern age are beginning to look to AI as a tool to speed up repetitive tasks, minimise human error, and most importantly increase accuracy, output, and, in turn, the efficiency of the organisation. We are confident that AI is here to stay – the full scale of its capabilities hasn’t been realised by the masses yet but when it does it will reshape the world as we know it. Small business owners should make serious considerations regarding the implementation of the ever-growing phenomena that is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
In the last part of the article, we will explore analytics, how it has changed, and what it can do for your small business if used correctly.
Analytics and your small business
Having access to accurate data makes all the difference in making timely strategic decisions. In the past you would always be playing catch up and have an inability to make decisions based on real time events within your business, because in most cases it would take your team days to gather that information together in spreadsheets.
However, Analytics has changed over recent times. We were all familiar with using data analytics to enhance what we do in the workplace, but, due to the recent pandemic, things have changed due to the rapid adaptations that many business owners were forced to make practically overnight – an adoption of a remote working team. Many went out and purchased a variety of different communication and collaboration tools (such as Microsoft Teams) – and rightly so in most circumstances. It was either do that or shut their doors for good for a lot of firms.
Making the transition to remote working call solutions at such a lightning quick pace has led to a chasm of intelligence for managers, who quickly realised that they had no way to monitor workplace performance against a backdrop of vast amounts of traffic.
In the modern world there are capable solutions at our fingertips – if you know what you are looking for, business owners are desperate for the answer to some of the big questions, such as how to start to get real meaning for my data and empower my workforce with the tools and information to get the most from their day?
Get more meaning from Microsoft Teams analytics
In the technological era we are operating in, ‘driving blind’ has the power to make your business fail – if you are unable to harness the data that you have at your disposal from your Cloud applications you are already way off the pace of your competition. This is especially true when it comes to collaboration applications (such as Microsoft Teams, an app that was the mirage in the desert, the lifeline for businesses all over the globe, which allowed organisations to continue to interact and complete tasks on a daily basis when in the new out of the office setting).
Managers are at a pivotal time; they need to get more meaning from their analytics and must be equipped with tools to make sense of what relates to their business. That means having solutions that analyse the volume and quality of all colleague and customer interactions and bring that data to life.
The proof is in the numbers for Microsoft Teams – with over 250 million daily active users they continue to provide a wealth of connectivity opportunities for firms all over the globe. However, now is the time for business collaboration platforms to do more – they need to identify key employee trends, wellbeing concerns, customer call quality, and aid in staff training. The data is at their fingertips – the problem is that most don’t know how to unlock it.
To make this a possibility, you need to provide savvy platforms with ‘high availability’ data capture capabilities that are able to deliver a complete picture from every single call – which, on its own, generates around 600 pieces of data. They should also offer real-time analysis and be quick to deploy as well as being as easy as possible to use.
When you can gather the right intelligence you can not only make better decisions but it also allows your team to streamline their own efficiencies and improve their performance. The beauty of modern-day analytics is that it doesn’t take a dedicated IT professional to manage the data you get. All corners of your business can unlock the detail to help drive the company forward – regardless of their department there is always data that can help improve service.
There is no time to waste. Equip your team with the data that is specific to their role, because – with the right data in the right hands – the sky is the limit. And for managers, it is high time they provide a simple and intuitive platform for their enterprise to benefit and grow.
Managing your IT landscape so you don’t have to
We are a Cloud services provider, so we understand the apprehension that many feel before making the leap to Cloud computing. We take the reins when conducting your transition, allowing your company to enjoy the advanced opportunities it has to offer. We are proud to provide top quality services to our customers, preventing business disruption that can be caused by tech problems. We can assist you in deciding what approach is best for you, a full transition to Cloud computing and all the positives that come with it, an on-premise managed solution, or a hybrid of the two – whatever the case we will be sure to establish the right solution for you. Alongside our expertise in Cloud computing, our experienced and knowledgeable team at Apogee Solutions perform proactive monitoring of servers and workstations, fixing problems remotely, and dealing with security issues.
Get in contact now and see how – with the right tools, and education around their use – you and your team can take your next step into the future of IT.