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How Far Can AI Be Integrated Into Small Businesses?

AI has been perceived via a bigger lens, one that is restricted to large-scale tech companies. Millions of dollars are spent to take advantage of AI-centric systems. According to a new forecast presented by International Data Corporation, the global expenditure on building AI-enabled systems will exceed 300 billion dollars by 2026. The question arises: Can AI be accessible to small businesses? Does AI have the capacity to solve small-scale problems? And, most importantly, just as we are adapting and co-existing with AI, can AI be more adaptable?


AI has been perceived via a bigger lens, one that is restricted to large-scale tech companies. Millions of dollars are spent to take advantage of AI-centric systems. According to a new forecast presented by International Data Corporation, the global expenditure on building AI-enabled systems will exceed 300 billion dollars by 2026. The question arises: Can AI be accessible to small businesses? Does AI have the capacity to solve small-scale problems? And, most importantly, just as we are adapting and co-existing with AI, can AI be more adaptable?

Making AI accessible for small businesses - worth it? 


This might not come as a surprise to you that small businesses account for 90% of global companies. Huge, no? And, if aligned with AI, which has a worldwide market worth over $1.5 trillion, how far has AI reached? There have been arguments that AI is meant to mobilize bigger data or solve bigger problems but there is no denying that AI is a bang-on pattern detector. And, when it comes to small businesses, these patterns have the potential of driving massive success. Know why? Imagine a small-business owner, let's say, a cafe owner has access to all the data of his customers. He knows their preferences, their orders, the frequency of their visits, the days they visit, and so on. Manipulating the data and understanding those patterns can help him build a more robust relationship with his modest business. Primarily, because he can decode what stock, material, and days to expect a particular customer on. Now, you may ask what is the probability of this being a success. Well, recall, how many times have you visited your favorite cafe, preferably a modest one, and your favorite food is not available for one reason or another? This is where AI may step in and bridge the gaps between customers and owners of small businesses. Think of it as a relationship-building process where you know the patterns well enough to help your small business sustain better.



No-one Size Fits All: Custom-Built AI


When it comes to technology, we couldn't expect one model or a system to cater to multiple business needs. And, with 316 million small businesses thriving around the world, expecting a unified AI-centric system might not be the right approach. With AI now not being the near future, but a very realistic and dynamic present, small businesses need to step up. Spending dollars and investing in huge AI systems won't work for a small business owner. AI has to adapt, and become more accessible seems to be the answer. Be it generating specialized marketing campaigns, analyzing customer data, decoding shopping patterns, or curating personalized messages for customer retention - the adaptability scope is enormous. That too, is when half of the economy is running a small business. But what else, you may ask? For small business owners, decision-making is as integral as it is for large companies. The impact may not be the same but the impact exists. And, time does play a crucial role in decision-making. A small owner may manage all bulky documents to analyze data and decode patterns but the dynamics of buying and eating have changed. So much so that only a fast-paced system can bridge the gaps between time and decision-making. 



Well, we have been told to get smarter to co-exist with AI but when it comes to small businesses, the argument that AI needs to become smarter exists. The limitations of AI being beneficial for tech-savvy is also questionable now that AI is at the core of everything we think and do. Why don't small businesses take advantage of it and leverage its extensive power?

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