Is AI for SME’s a Possibility?

I was having a discussion at the workplace with my colleague, George - on the uses of AI within different industries. George is a tech guy, he’s got those quintessential thick-rimmed deep black-colored glasses that go with his casual tee and denim blues, he even went ahead and got himself a pair of white techie sneakers to finish off the look. You get the point, George belongs in tech.

I work marketing, I’m a writer. I have been one for a while now. My dressing isn’t as avant as Georges’ neither do I have the black frames to complete my look. I do however love coffee, black, sans the sugar, watch F1 and I’m a tad bit obsessed with cricket and chess. You could say I’m the quintessential writer, sans the bestsellers and leather/canvas satchels.

Coming back to our discussion, which I’m pretty sure morphed into a debate before either of us knew. Our debate was, is AI for SME’s a possibility?

Before we deep dive into the whole XS Vs. XL debate lets talk a little bit about AI.

Succeeding with AI Integrated into Businesses

“Anything that could give rise to smarter-than-human intelligence—in the form of Artificial Intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, or neuroscience-based human intelligence enhancement - wins hands down beyond contest as doing the most to change the world. Nothing else is even in the same league.” — Eliezer Yudkowsky

AI’s got some major advantages when it comes to running your business. AI and ML applications are in everything we do, from the convenience of hailing a cab from your phone, the food you order (with your phone) and even our voice searches; we’ve got AI implementation into almost everything we use on the daily.

The results for AI within large organizations are very well documented. Companies are more than satisfied with the effective and efficient results AI produces for their businesses, this combined with that surreal funding big companies have and some of the best AI platforms money can buy at their service, the fact that AI is effective for most big companies was not at all surprising to most experts.

It’s like that time Australia won the World Cup between 1999 to 2007, three times consecutively, there was little to no surprise, they had the best team in the tournament, a fluid, and well-oiled machine, with sound and precise guidance. Their victory was inevitable. It’s the same with AI and large firms, the best AI platforms undoubtedly produce successful results.

This had me research into whether SME’s can maximize their use of AI and if it was worth it. Post research and after talking to more people within the tech team, I had to talk to someone else other than George, he seemed skeptical. However, post research talks with techie whizz kids I learned that SME’s stand as much a chance, if not a higher one when it comes to succeeding with AI integrated into businesses, and that’s amplified when the nature of the business is e-commerce.

Application of AI in E-commerce

Rapid and optimal application of AI within your e-commerce brand will produce results that will have you wanting to break the bank and invest a whole lot more into AI. AI tools can significantly transform the SME / MSME space by enabling business owners to move towards dynamic and innovative service and solutions.

Results have shown us that AI within a medium-sized e-commerce enterprise leads to a higher sale, better product development, faster and better customer service, and a more specific targeted marketing plan, ultimately assisting you to outsell the competition.

Look around for AI, perhaps in your own backyard

Most e-commerce businesses assume that only expensive AI is good AI and tend to not look at their very own backyards for AI implemented solutions. Several tech companies have open-sourced their AI efforts as they’re trying to reach out to more consumers. Leveraging these existing open-sourced AI platforms helps your e-commerce business save time and considerable money!

For example, fastText by Facebook provides users with suggestive word embeddings and text classifications. Written in C++ and Python, fastText allows users to create unsupervised or supervised learning algorithms for obtaining vector representations for words.

Steppingstones. Take it easy if you’re new to AI

Those results you read about that AI help build and provide, spoiler alert. None of them were achieved overnight.

AI within your e-commerce brand takes time, there’ no reason to rush and hurry into the process, it’s proven to be counterproductive for brands in the past. The principle when you’re an SME is simple. You start slow and gradually over time, based on results and how AI within your business is working, increase your AI efforts over time.

I came across an article by Hackernoon while I was on my skirmish of whether there’s any truth to implementing AI in SME’s. According to our Hackernoon buddies, there are essentially three steps:

  1. Define: Setting the parameters and defining the expectations of what exactly it is that AI can achieve and cannot do for you, regarding your business profile.
  2. Measure: When it comes to measuring, it should remain realistic and done against meaningful baselines.
  3. Decide: Once your AI implementation is done, you’ll stand to evaluate and then decide whether the experiment worked or not.

Analytics. Here’s where AI shines

Studying data and understanding how it works is possibly the most crucial when it comes to running a successful business. Lucky for you, here’s where AI shines.

AI in e-commerce has opened new doors, windows, houses and mansions of opportunities. With the help of analytics, AI can predict consumer behavior, helping you scale up your enterprise at speed.

AI-powered analytics software will get your business intelligence at a very feasible price. With results that make your money back for you in no time at all.

H20 - H20 is a perfect example of AI-powered analytics software that could be the next best fit for your SME e-commerce enterprise. A machine learning tool, H20 aims at owning a space within the AI analytics space, and they did exactly this, with their primary tools being free and open source.

You can get the main H20 platform simply by downloading them.

Operating under the Apache 2.0 license, it is one of the most flexible open-source licenses available. And for just a few hundred bucks, you can also run them on clusters powered by AWS!

Major Advantages of AI in SME’s

AI in an SME drives significant and big change across various departments. With better results, we’re slowly building that circle of trust and the wheel of faith that ‘AI is a force to be reckoned with’.

Many organizations have begun implementation of AI in their workflow post which they are witnessing a huge improvement with their ROI business turnover.

Read a couple of success stories to know exactly how AI has made a difference.