5 Smart ways of leveraging Machine Learning for SMBs.
As a Small or Medium Business (SMB) owner, you consistently get overwhelmed with jargon like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data Analytics, Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning, Data Science, etc. surfacing in your inbox from technology companies. These marketing fliers promise you the moon if you start using their cutting-edge tools in running your business.
Without actually realizing it today the common man has started using embedded AI in mobile devices but the common perception of an SMB owner is that these technologies are meant for big guys with deep pockets. Too caught up in running day-to-day operations, you think that these new-age technologies have got no real utility value and are not worth your limited bandwidth.
What if we tell you that you stand to lose a significant business advantage if you stick to either of these beliefs for long?
Machine Learning applications can be a game-changer for you
Increasingly business owners have to adapt to business decision-making using data, rather than plain old gut feel. The Go-to-Market timelines are shrinking and wrong decisions are proving costlier by the day for their entire business ecosystem. Businesses are increasingly generating meaningful data across their operational dimensions, you just need to have a mechanism to analyze this data and make it work for you.
Machine Learning is the go-to tool when someone wants to leverage big data and analytics.
As per Fortune Business Insights, the present market size of ML stood at $21.17 billion and is expected to grow to $209.91 billion by 2029, at an astounding CGAR of 38.8 percent. And a significant part of the growth is likely to come with the adoption of the technology by SMBs.
Given that the world around us is increasingly leveraging data for insightful business decisions, AI and ML – which is a subset of AI – are used by SMBs for fast and accurate, data-driven decision-making.
For the SMBs willing to board the bus, ML is not something that can be bought off the shelf. Rather it makes sense to weigh how this technology shall be able to enhance your core business strategy, take away mundane tasks from your employees, and further key business initiatives considering the resources and time involved.
One of the challenges for SMBs shall face in using ML is that there is enough data to work on. Let’s look at how SMBs can offset this disadvantage and make ML work for them.
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What is Machine Learning?
To understand ML better, think about a chatbot on the retailer’s website or app. Since 90 percent of queries are routine, the responses can be prefabricated and can form a dataset of answers. Machine learning is simply building an algorithm — if-this-then-that set of instructions– on this data set which can be trained to give accurate responses on its own.
To begin with, the program gets trained on the data set under human supervision, but as the data inflow grows, the program starts training all by itself. Hence, the term Machine Learning.
Companies like Meta, Google, Tesla, and IBM are using AI and ML for everything from tailored product recommendations to piloting driverless cars.
You don’t have to understand the complete nuts and bolts of ML to start using it. ML can empower your company to achieve a wide range of tasks. From automating manual tasks to increasing operational efficiency and much-improved customer engagement.
1. Data-driven decision making
To begin with, you can primarily use ML for advanced analytics.
Mostly SMB business owners take on-the-spot business decisions on their gut feel. There is not enough insight or intelligence in the decision-making process, as the human mind is limited by its ability to absorb and retain data. By using ML-driven computational analytics, you add that X factor to your business and do away with human limitations.
Advanced analytics is an umbrella term for examining data, using sophisticated techniques to uncover deep insights, produce recommendations and form accurate future predictions.
There is incredible scope for its application in almost all elements within a business be it sales, logistics, customer relations, finance, accounting, or supply chain management. There are various SaaS/PaaS solutions such as AWS ready to do tasks for you.
2. Spotting opportunities and anomalies
For any business to predict consumer demand for its products and services with an unparalleled degree of accuracy is necessary. So is early detection of fraudulent transactions. In both cases, ML comes in handy. By the use of well-trained models that learn from data patterns, both opportunities and anomalies can be identified with ease and can be flagged for action.
3. Cost-effective Customer Service
Customer service chatbots are one popular application of ML. These bots use AI and ML to answer basic customer queries in real time. Chatbots can recognize and answer multiple forms of the same question using your company voice and tone. According to Gartner, AI and ML-driven chatbots are one of the top technologies and trends driving the digital workplace. These assistants have a huge impact on how work is getting done. Not only has the quality of customer service gone up but also the workload for human staff has come down.
4. Identifying sales leads
Machine Learning can help SMBs better identify sales leads and provide valuable insights into them. ML can not only be used to grade the leads but also predict the expected closure time, thereby giving a handy framework for resource allocation by the business. There are companies like Salesforce and Freshworks there to make this task easier for you.
5. Business Planning
One very significant but still highly unutilized function of Machine Learning is to help in business planning for your enterprise. This technology can sift through a huge pile of data to throw up rare insights when you are finalizing the three-year road map for your enterprise. Machine Learning can be the game changer that you have been looking for.
For example, Vizologi offers the “mash-up” method of ML that shakes up seemingly disconnected business strategies, to concoct a winning business model for you.
The idea is to work smarter and not harder. Machine Learning is surely the smart way of doing business in the future.
Matt Horwitz is the founder of LLC University, a website that teaches people how to form LLCs. Matt is the leading authority in LLC education and is featured in CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Entrepreneur Magazine, and US Chamber of Commerce. Matt holds a Bachelor’s Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. LLC University®, established in 2010, was the first company to create free LLC courses in all 50 states.