In our increasingly competitive and technology-reliant environment, many successful companies are touting artificial intelligence (AI) resources as crucial tools necessary to compete in today’s market. In fact, according to a 2019 Gartner survey, over the last four years, AI usage rose 270 percent, and in the last year alone, AI use tripled. With 83 percent of early AI adopters reporting moderate to substantial economic benefits, according to a study by Deloitte, one of the most likely reasons for the explosion in AI reliance was that current data demonstrate these business tools provide real benefits and value.

Here’s how to begin leveraging AI tools to benefit your own small business or startup.

Human Resources

AI can transform human resources (HR) activities. Today, HR departments are delivering a complex variety of services which can include not only recruitment, but also benefits management, engagement, payroll, and even continuing education. It can be challenging to balance these activities and services, but AI business tools can help you streamline those functions. Planning to outsource your HR recruitment? An AI recruitment company can meet an array of HR needs at an affordable price. For example, if you are looking for recruitment for a specific industry, RampUp is a viable option. If you’re searching for employees with specific talents and skills, Arya is a good choice, and if you need hourly workers, TextRecruit is another option. If you need help managing and simplifying your daily HR responsibilities, such as payroll or benefits, Zenefits automates and streamlines HR functions while providing data to keep your business running smoothly.

Lead Generation and Sales

According to a Harvard Business Review report, companies that utilize AI for sales saw a lead increase of over 50 percent, reduced costs between 50-60 percent, and saw a reduction in call time of more than 60 percent. Two good resources to consider are Salesforce, which delivers AI customer relationship management, and lead generating OptinMonster, which offers a full range of AI marketing, sales tools, and resources.

Competitor Analysis

When running a business, just keeping track of your own activities can often be challenging, so it can be even harder to keep paying close attention to your competition, too. AI systems can identify market trends and analyze data, then deliver information for marketing and strategic planning. Some companies, such as Crayon, use AI to help you track your competitors across social media and digital channels, to deliver actionable intelligence you can apply to your company’s marketing, branding, pricing, and more.

Off the Shelf and Customized Options

There are many free or open-sourced AI business tools available. For example, Matomo offers a free complex business data analytics system (with optional paid plug-ins). Other systems, like IBM Watson, a popular free open-source AI software resource offering pre-built enterprise apps also offer resources so you can build your own AI model from scratch. While some systems can be navigated by anyone with decent computer skills, others may require a programmer’s skills. And, for some businesses, sometimes an off-the-shelf or pre-built AI product or app doesn’t offer the features you need, or you may not have the in-house programming talent to develop your own system and would be better served by having a completely customized system built for their specific needs.

With AI infiltrating almost every aspect of our daily lives, including business marketing and operations, materials sourcing, and even communication, the increased use of AI to stay productive and competitive is something every organization needs to consider now.

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