From smartphones and kitchen gadgets to cars to manufacturing equipment, artificial intelligence and automation have become firmly embedded in modern everyday life. As these useful technologies gain steam in the workplace, businesses everywhere will have to adapt their processes or risk falling behind.
To help leaders prepare for the growing presence of AI and automation in the business world, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) members to answer the following question:
The AI/automation revolution is here. How can companies keep up?
Their best answers are below:
1. Get an internal expert onboard.
Make sure you have internal expertise. Hiring consultants to ‘check the box’ normally results in overpaying for under delivery. Understanding how to properly apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to your business is just as important as the implementation. – Hongwei Liu, mappedin
2. Turn to AI to improve your security.
While once upon a time we made a choice to move forward, innovation and advancement are now crucial to survival. One of the most popular ways companies can use AI technology is to fight fraud and financial crime. Criminals have elevated their game in today’s digital world, but AI-powered solutions are able to help businesses protect themselves against sophisticated fraud schemes and cyber crimes. – Stephen Ufford, Trulioo
3. Use chatbots for customer service.
AI-powered chatbots promise intelligent digital assistants that are available 24/7 to resolve your customer requests affordably, consistently and very quickly. Companies can use predefined rules in a decision tree to understand and solve customer queries. Eventually, they can apply machine learning to learn from each interaction and escalate more complex issues to human agents. – Raad Ahmed, LawTrades
4. Research and read.
Pay attention to what is going on by subscribing to sites that provide AI industry research, analysis and updates. This information is critical to know what is going on and when and where to get involved. – Angela Ruth, Calendar
5. Foster an environment of entrepreneurship and creativity.
One thing AI and automation are unable to replace is the value of a strong business relationship. Particularly in the startup world, many businesses can live or die by the partners they make along the way. As long as business leaders can maintain top-notch instincts and encourage and foster an environment of entrepreneurship and creativity, they can stay one step ahead of AI. – Zohar Steinberg, token payments
6. Understand how AI can be applied to your industry.
Start by understanding AI’s application specific to your industry. Then make sure you have a business problem that needs to be solved. AI is just a tool to solve that problem. Applying or partnering with companies that can more efficiently solve that problem with AI is how you keep up. If the right partner doesn’t exist, you can design and build an AI solution. – George White, Pavia Systems
7. Start small.
Start by finding ways automation can work for your business on a small scale. You can begin with automated website chats or save time by automating parts of your workflow. We use an application that automatically reminds us when to follow-up on tasks so we don’t have to continually scan to-do lists. Then, we use the time we’ve saved to work on new products and innovative marketing strategies. – Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged
8. Learn from others’ mistakes.
AI is an extremely powerful tool that is only becoming more powerful over time, but there have been several speed bumps on this road. Learn from the mistakes made by others. Microsoft had to drastically revamp their AI chatbot after a very public debacle, as did Tesla after unintentionally causing a fatality with a self-driving car. – Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy
9. Augment, rather than fully automate.
AI and machine learning technology is still in its infancy. I don’t suggest creating automated call centers or leaving your PPC campaign to a robot if you’re a small business. I say augment; don’t automate. Identify weak points in your organization, from the marketing department to finances, where AI-powered technology can augment and improve the existing workflow. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
10. Use your imagination.
It’s not so much AI/ML technology itself that is preventing more widespread adoption, but rather slow implementation and a lack of imagination from business leaders. Don’t get left behind. Think hard about how AI/ML can transform the way you do business, researching the best tools out there that would help automate processes and reduce operational costs, depending on your business. – Thomas Smale, FE International
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.