The business world is abuzz with generative artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, like ChatGPT, DALL-E, DeepAI, and IBM Watson Studio.

But AI isn’t just another buzzword. In 2023, the abbreviation of artificial intelligence – AI – was declared the word of the year by lexicographers at the Collins Dictionary, showing how prominent the technology has become in a relatively short time. After all, we’ve entered a new era of technology.

Moreover, data highlights how business owners are thinking of integrating select AI tools into their operations if they haven’t already done so.

For instance, Statistics Canada’s (StatsCan) data for the first quarter of 2024 finds that approximately one in seven (9.3%) Canadian businesses were already using generative AI or plan to do so (4.6%). However, StatsCan also finds that 72.7% of Canadian businesses have not considered using AI, with transportation and warehousing companies least likely to (86.6%) followed by construction businesses (85.6%).

5 ways to use AI to grow your small business

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There are many ways small businesses can leverage AI tools for different purposes. To determine the best way forward for your business, think about the parts of your business you want to improve and how this technology can help.

For example, generative AI platforms can help employees improve productivity by helping create content, images, and software code. Predictive AI tools can streamline an organization’s operations by analyzing historical data to predict future outcomes. Both require humans to review their output.

In the meantime, here are five ways you might consider implementing AI usage into your business:

1. Managing Customer Relationships and Customer Support

If your business uses a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, many CRM providers offer AI-driven systems, like Zoho CRM, Salesforce Essentials, and Agile CRM, which can help analyze customer data, do lead scoring and email tracking, predict customers’ future buying behaviour, and personalize customer interactions.

Furthermore, deploying an AI-powered chatbot on your website, such as Drift, Google Dialogflow, and LiveChat can help improve customer service and your team’s efficiency by managing basic customer inquiries and passing more complex inquiries to human customer service representatives.

2. Sales Forecasting Analysis

Predictive AI platforms like IBM Watson Analytics and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales Insights can help forecast accurate sales trends by quickly analyzing large amounts of historical data and make predictions of what to expect in the future based on that data. It can also help identify trends, prioritize sales leads, and suggest improvements to pricing strategies, which may be of significant interest to retailers and sales teams. By analyzing large datasets, it can give real-time insight into current sales activity, and assist with customer segmentation and financial planning.

3. Social Media, Content, and Email Marketing

StatsCan notes that 68.5% of Canadian businesses are using or planning to use AI to accelerate content development without cutting jobs, followed by increasing automation (46.1%), improving customer service (37.5%), and achieving cost efficiencies (35.1%).

AI-driven social media management platforms like Hootsuite and Loomly can analyze trends, optimize content to improve engagement and schedule posts. AI can also segment email marketing lists, optimize send times, and lead to higher email open and click-through rates. For content production and optimization, AI can suggest improvements to content for product descriptions, social media content, and advertising copy.

4. E-Commerce Product Recommendations

An AI-powered e-commerce website or platform can analyze your customers’ purchasing preferences, purchase history and behaviour and make product recommendations to boost your sales. AI-driven e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Wix eCommerce, and WooCommerce with its Jetpack extension can perform these tasks.

By enhancing personalization, AI can improve the customer experience while they shop to potentially increase the chance of buying something, and encourage cross-selling to existing customers to add items to their shopping carts.

5. Supply Chain Management

AI can help businesses optimize their supply chains, such as recommending delivery routes and identifying shipping delays at warehouses and ports of entry, thereby improving delivery times. For example, Oracle NetSuite, SAP Business One, and IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite may be suitable options for your small business to offer these functionalities and more. 

They can also assist with your company’s inventory management by providing visibility into your operations, analyzing historical sales data, predicting customer demand fluctuations, recommending inventory levels to prevent being out of stock or carrying too much inventory and lowering overall costs.

What Type of Business Insurance Covers Artificial Intelligence Liability Risks?

With every opportunity, there is risk involved. Using AI is no different in that regard.

For example, AI tools can hallucinate or provide incorrect information. Regardless of whether or not your company uses AI tools, every small business owner should have a customized business insurance policy to cover the cost of damages and losses.

If you use AI in your operations, adding optional intellectual property and professional liability insurance to your overall policy may cover claims against you alleging copyright infringement or if the AI-generated information you provide to customers proves incorrect and causes them physical or financial harm.

Get a free insurance quote for your business by filling out our online application.

Let our knowledgeable brokers find a low-cost policy to protect your company and answer any questions you have about using AI platforms.

– Reviewed by Tamara Kuznick, Practice Leader, Claims and Compliance, and Brandon Bowie, Team Lead, Professional Lines, Zensurance.
This document is provided for informational purposes only. It does not, and it is not intended to, provide legal, technical or other professional advice, nor does it amend or otherwise affect the provisions or coverages of any insurance policy or bond issued by any carrier that is procured by, or with the assistance of Zensurance, nor is it a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy or bond. Availability of coverage referenced in this document can depend on underwriting qualifications and relevant laws and regulations. Zensurance disclaims all warranties whatsoever.

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About the Author: Liam Lahey

Liam is the Content Marketing Manager at Zensurance. A writer and editor for more than 20 years, he has been published in several newspapers and magazines, including Yahoo! Canada Finance, Metroland Media, IT World Canada and others.