Risks and benefits of AI

Risks and benefits of AI

Stuart Dillon-Roberts from Digital Journey shares his insights on using AI in your business.

Risks and benefits of AI
    <p>Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often referred to as a game-changer for small business, primarily to increase customer engagement, streamline operations and simplify processes. As with any new technology, there are pluses and minuses to consider before you plunge in. We asked Stuart Dillon-Roberts from Digital Journey for his advice.</p> <p><b>The benefits of AI</b></p> <p>The most obvious benefit is the cost. Sometimes it’s free. However there are four primary areas where AI software is incredibly useful to businesses, irrespective of their size and budget.</p> <ol> <li><b>Customer Support</b></li> </ol> <p>AI, often in the form of chatbots, offer 24/7 customer support, addressing inquiries, resolving issues, and providing product information automatically, including options to engage customers in their preferred language. Customers get information when they need it, while saving the business staff time and reducing manual workloads.&nbsp; These virtual assistants also have the advantage of continuous learning.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>If your business has customer-facing staff or operates an e-commerce store, look at using&nbsp;<a href="https://www.intercom.com/blog/ai-and-automation/">Intercom.com</a>&nbsp;or&nbsp;<a href="https://heyday.hootsuite.com/">Hootsuite HeyDay</a>&nbsp;for e-commerce and the website plugin’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.tidio.com/">Tidio</a>&nbsp;or&nbsp;<a href="https://getzowie.com/">Zowie.&nbsp;</a></p> <ol start="2"> <li><b>Automating tasks</b></li> </ol> <p>AI isn’t quite ready for you to put feet up, but there’s a lot AI will do, from offering insights into customer feedback, market trends, competitor analysis and even help create Excel formulas and charts. Other tasks you can semi-delegate include:</p> <ul> <li>Analysing customer preferences and behaviour to send personalised emails, product recommendations and content to individual customers.</li> <li>Inventory management to predict demand, enabling you to optimise stock levels and reduce inventory held.</li> <li>Look at your financial data and market trends to be more accurate when forecasting.</li> <li>Use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for customers to place orders, get information, or schedule appointments through voice commands.</li> <li>Scan potential employee CV’s to assess selection.</li> <li>Monitor equipment performance and predict when maintenance is needed.</li> <li>Detect fraudulent transactions or activities.</li> </ul> <p>One use of AI we all probably experience now is when shopping online, where AI suggests products based on your browsing and purchase history, increasing cross-selling and upselling opportunities.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><b>Content Creation</b></li> </ol> <p>One of the most popular uses of AI is content generation, utilising language models to create, update, or modify content. If you’re writing blogs for your website or social media posts, a question into&nbsp;<a href="https://chat.openai.com/">ChatGPT</a>&nbsp;will churn out a pretty decent blog within a set word count. AI can also be used to create job descriptions, draft emails, proofread and check grammar, punctuation as well language conversion.&nbsp; The key is knowing what to ask an AI tool to get the information you are after.</p> <p>Products like&nbsp;<a href="https://get.hail.to/">Hail.to</a>&nbsp;can be used to create your newsletter,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.copy.ai/">copy.ai</a>&nbsp;has a variety of guides to help a business create content while &nbsp;<a href="https://www.grammarly.com/ai">Grammarly,</a>&nbsp;can automatically correct your grammar and make suggestions based on tone and style preference.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><b>Workflow Automation</b></li> </ol> <p>AI can automate routine tasks, ranging from data entry to appointment scheduling and lead qualification. Well-known tools like&nbsp;<a href="https://zapier.com/blog/how-zapier-uses-ai/">Zapier include AI functionality</a>&nbsp;to allow processes to be integrated and automated.&nbsp; Project Management tools like&nbsp;<a href="https://clickup.com/features/ai">ClickUp</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://asana.com/product/ai">Asana</a>&nbsp;integrate artificial intelligence to keep project management tasks on track automatically. In the tech sector,&nbsp; AI tools have emerged to automate design, software development, and web design.</p> <p><b>Disadvantages</b></p> <p>At present there’s a steep learning curve for many, which will eat into your time to get AI set up and running in your business. It’s also at times confusing to know which technology is the best to use. There are so many.</p> <p>The top risks we see are:</p> <ol> <li><b>Inaccuracy and Bias</b></li> </ol> <p>Language models including ChatGPT may produce inaccurate or biased responses, potentially damaging your brand and customer perceptions. You’ll still need someone in-house to check any information you rely on to make decisions.</p> <p>Implementing content review processes is therefore essential before sharing AI-generated content.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><b>Data Privacy</b></li> </ol> <p>Some AI implementation requires large volumes of high-quality data, including access to your business records. The handling of customer information and personal data therefore must align with your privacy policy and any applicable compliance standards.</p> <p>Avoid sharing data containing sensitive or personal information, considering that most AI services operate outside of New Zealand.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><b>Over-reliance</b></li> </ol> <p>While AI is a powerful tool, businesses should exercise caution to prevent over-reliance, especially for critical tasks where the human touch remains invaluable. Other issues with AI include:</p> <ul> <li>The effort to invest in and understand the hardware, software, and skills required to deploy AI correctly.</li> <li>AI systems require regular maintenance and updates to remain effective and secure.</li> <li>Employees may fear the loss of their job and refuse to use the technology.</li> <li>AI can throw up unpredictable results, making it tricky to rely on the outcome for critical business decisions.</li> <li>Staying compliant with AI-related regulations can be complex and costly.</li> </ul> <p>A recommended approach is to establish how AI can be integrated into business operations while defining acceptable and unacceptable practices. It's unrealistic to halt AI adoption, so setting rules ensures ethical and effective implementation.</p> <p><b>Summary</b></p> <p>AI technology is continually evolving, almost daily it seems, introducing new AI services with enticing benefits. However, as a business owner, it's vital to take control of AI's role in your business, delineating its boundaries in task handling. With a balanced approach, AI can indeed be a game-changer for your business while mitigating potential risks.</p> <p><b>Next Steps</b></p> <ul> <li>Explore how AI can help and the products available to support your business.</li> <li>Most products have options to use a free version or a free trial period.</li> <li>Remember that AI is an assistant, and these services are to support you, not take away the decision making.&nbsp;&nbsp;</li> <li>Consider the risks, always check the results and find a knowledgeable tech professional help you assess the opportunities and set you on your way.</li> </ul>