Let’s prepare your small to midsized business for artificial intelligence, that way when the machines take over the (business) world, you aren’t left behind.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quite the buzzword these days and you might think that AI is only going to impact large businesses for the foreseeable future. Well, buckle up because you are getting on this ride whether you like it or not!

Small to midsized businesses (SMB) need to be ready, sooner rather than later.

In 2021, AI analysis firm Unsupervised published a survey of 520 SMB owners that found 48% of them still found AI too cost prohibitive. Forty percent said their businesses lacked the staff expertise to use it. But the survey also found that one in five owners were implementing some form of AI, and 20% of respondents already using AI believed it had increased their profitability.

Defining the term
People sometimes confuse AI with data analytics or the application of intense mathematics. It’s so much more. AI generally refers to using computers to perform complex tasks typically thought to require human intelligence — for example, image perception, voice recognition, decision-making and problem solving.

Several types of technologies fall under the AI umbrella. One is machine learning, which applies statistical techniques to improve machines’ performance of a specific task over time with little or no programming or human intervention. Another is natural language processing, which uses algorithms to analyze unstructured human language in documents, emails, texts, conversation or otherwise. And a third is robotic process automation, which automates time-consuming repetitive manual tasks that don’t require decision-making.

Finding uses
Going back to the survey above, 28% of SMB owners said they were still determining precisely how to implement AI. The answer for your company depends on what you do and which technologies you rely on. Here are some examples of how businesses can use AI:

HR. AI software can significantly expedite the hiring process by soliciting and screening candidates. It can narrow the field and save interviewing time, freeing up HR staff to deal with other issues that require human attention. AI also might reduce the risk of discrimination claims because human subjectivity plays less of a role in the process.

Communications. Chatbots and other tools make it easier to maintain efficient and effective communications with customers and prospects. Specifically, these tools can respond to frequently asked customer service questions, allowing front-facing employees to focus on more targeted or complex issues.

Growing companies can also use AI tools to automate communications with vendors and employees. Doing so ensures the timely delivery of information and minimizes the chance of costly or embarrassing human errors.

Cybersecurity. Every company, no matter how big or small, faces the threat of hackers and ransomware schemes — and the risk has grown only more intense in recent months.

In fact, given the sheer number of cyberthreats out there, and the virtually infinite ways that cybercriminals can vary their attacks, AI is fast becoming an essential defensive tool. For example, through machine learning, AI can devise “classification algorithms” to detect spam and malware.

Proceeding with caution
AI for business — including SMBs — isn’t going away. Does this mean you should throw caution to the wind and spend exorbitantly on an AI solution today? Not at all. Like any technology initiative, an AI implementation project should involve careful research into your needs and a prudent budget. Your Rudler, PSC advisor can help you weigh the costs vs. benefits of any tech upgrades you’re considering. Reach out at 859-331-1717.

RUDLER, PSC CPAs and Business Advisors

This week's Rudler Review is presented by Eric Ficke, CPA and James Ray, CPA.

If you would like to discuss your particular situation, contact Eric or James at 859-331-1717.

As part of Rudler, PSC's commitment to true proactive client partnerships, we have encouraged our professionals to specialize in their areas of interest, providing clients with specialized knowledge and strategic relationships. Be sure to receive future Rudler Reviews for advice from our experts,  sign up today !

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