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AI Challenges for Small Businesses

Published May 25, 2023 - Head of Operations

Artificial Intelligence is designed to solve a business’s problems but can quickly become the source of them. If you are considering harnessing the power of AI in your business, read our shortlist of the AI challenges small businesses should watch out for. 

The latest AI solutions 

Artificial Intelligence is nothing new – the first AI program was written by Christopher Strachey at the University of Oxford in 1951. However, the world has recently been rediscovering the possibilities of AI following the release of ChatGPT. 

ChatGPT is a natural language processing chatbot capable of understanding requests and generating detailed written content in seconds.  

ChatGPT can be used to whip up a snappy ‘about’ page, a corporate white paper, or even a catchy tagline for a marketing campaign – the possibilities are endless.  

With Google Bard recently added to the range of experimental AI platforms, various business tasks can now be automated, including:  

Analysing company data 

Producing business reports 

Filtering job candidates for HR 

Calculating accounting figures

Personalising marketing campaigns  

Debugging and fixing code 

Creating graphic designs 

Providing customer service via chatbots

Responding to social media posts

The challenges of implementing AI  

AI technology remains experimental, and many companies who choose to use it are effectively acting as test-cases, discovering both its possibilities and flaws.

Business leaders investing in AI systems should evaluate the risks and challenges that come with using innovative tech for business processes.  

Making roles redundant  

The biggest AI challenge for businesses is the ethical implication of reducing the need for human workers. Ideally, AI should enhance productivity and simplify jobs without making them redundant.  

Many businesses benefiting from digitalisation will intentionally deploy AI in a supporting role. Used in this way, AI can automate lower-level and repetitive tasks, freeing-up employees to perform more high-value work. 

Struggling with employee performance? 

Whether you are trying to manage underperformance or implement performance management strategies, our Performance Management Factsheet will help you implement an effective performance strategy. 

The cost of AI 

The amount of money you invest in AI will be determined by the scope of your initiatives.

If you are using AI to create written content or web graphics, the process will be quick and only cost a monthly subscription.  

However, if you plan to use AI to analyse your company data, this could easily be a significant investment. Businesses often need higher computing power, database integration, or even a lengthy process of data training. 

Data security 

While AI increases the amount of information your business can make decisions with, it also increases the risks of mishandling sensitive customer data. Ensuring customer data is properly secured is one of the biggest AI challenges for small businesses.  

Many businesses implement additional cybersecurity measures, such as multi-factor authentication or encryption, to ensure they maintain strong data protection and governance. 

Lack of technical skills 

As a branch of machine learning and data science, AI is a specialised skill set that demands extensive knowledge and training. A routine change to your AI system might require a programmer to write neural network algorithms. This is every bit as complicated as it sounds. 

To maximise the benefits of AI in your business, you may need to outsource to external tech specialists or invest in training your existing IT staff.  Either way, small businesses should carefully consider the ongoing costs involved.

Data quality 

The results of AI are only as good as the input data. In most businesses, data is siloed, disorganised or of low quality. Unreliable data poses a major obstacle for businesses looking to benefit from AI.  

So called “dirty data” can be outdated, inaccurate, incomplete, or inconsistent, and must be cleaned before it can be used. Most businesses contemplating large data-driven AI projects will start by evaluating the amount of work required to prepare their data sets. 

The future of Artificial Intelligence for small businesses 

There is always an opportunity for businesses to increase operational efficiency, and companies have a lot to gain from embracing AI. For small business owners, the cost is likely to be the biggest barrier keeping them from exploring the full potential of AI tools.  

However, with demand growing and the industry making rapid progress, the price of AI systems is likely to fall dramatically. In the coming years, expect to see businesses of all sizes lean into the possibilities of AI. 

Please note that this is general information. Employsure is not an IT specialist – you should consult an AI expert before implementing any changes in your business.

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