The Artificial Intelligence revolution is finally here. It doesn’t look how we imagined, but it’s a lot more useful to small business than the killer machines of Hollywood films.
At age 19 Falon Fatemi became the youngest employee ever hired at Google. Now she wants businesses to know how to avoid getting left behind during the artificial intelligence revolution.
Fatemi, now only 33, left Google to become the CEO and founder of the first ever AI platform that analyzes online businesses to find strategic opportunities.
She has meanwhile written a compelling essay for Forbes arguing businesses need learning machines to make better decisions.
Tech optimists like Fatemi don’t see this as something to fear. Rather, it’s an opportunity, which she has conveniently broken into three parts.
1. Enhancing Customer Experience
Fatemi sites surprising research claiming that by 2020, customer service will overtake both price and product quality to become the main difference between similar brands.
And you guessed it, artificial intelligence is what creates highly personalized customer service that knows you better than you know yourself, and I can prove it.
If you’ve ever had the experience of being pushed through the phone tree of a major company, explaining your problem ad nauseam, then you know how quickly this frustration can end your relationship with a brand.
Artificial intelligence meanwhile can keep track of customer interactions much better than human assistants. And with enough data, it will anticipate your needs before you even ask.
I’d argue look no further than your last all-weekend Netflix binge and you’ve already had this experience.
You yourself didn’t really pick that series you ended up watching endlessly. Netflix employees didn’t either. Their machine learning algorithm did. It’s been studying what keeps you watching for years and it sucked you right in.
Further, according to Salesforce, fully 50% of customers will end up switching brands if their needs are not anticipated.
Yes. Customers don’t just leave because their needs aren’t met. They leave just as often because their needs weren’t met before they even had those needs.
AI tools Fatemi says will also be monitoring brand perceptions on social media. You can’t fix how your company is perceived if you don’t know in the first place.
But of course, being an AI optimist, Fatemi doesn’t mention that other intelligent machines can also be deployed to create those bad perceptions in the first place.
It’s a bit of an AI arms race, both good and bad, but I digress.
2. Enhancing the hiring process
Any business owner knows the absolute black-hole-level time suck of finding a good hire for a crucial role.
And even when you make the hire it takes even longer to figure out if your first impressions were correct.
Fatemi says small businesses deploying artificial intelligence should eventually remove biased human interactions like interviews from this process entirely.
NASA famously hired thousands of employees during the fevered space race of the 1960s, sight unseen, based on resume data alone, and they made it to the moon.
There’s also the problem of finding the employees to hire or reject in the first place.
Reliable studies have shown that 50% of hires come from referrals. That means businesses cast a very small net instead of pulling from a larger talent pool.
Instead of making your next hire the nephew of your beloved mailroom manager, AI could soon find the exact right candidate who may become a future leader in growing your business.
3. Improving employee performance with data
The happiness of employees is a huge factor in their success.
Studies have also consistently shown employee contentment is highly linked to how good the job tasks are matched to the individual.
Unfortunately, a recent poll by Gallup shows 85% of employees are unfulfilled at work.
This means essentially the vast majority of employees are both miserable, and gettable. And, that almost every workplace is losing productivity by having people in jobs they don’t really want in the first place.
Some of this problem is no doubt simply a part of human nature machines can’t just erase with clever tricks.
But Fatemi also claims machine learning algorithms will be able to analyze internal company data and find ways to better motivate and incentivize your workforce to maximize their productivity.
And when employees are productive, it’s a good sign they’re happy too. It’s a win-win.
Will AI take over your business?
Fatemi’s main thesis is that data is what drives modern business.
Companies who are best able to merge artificial intelligence into their firm’s workflow to ring out extra productivity are the ones who will win the future.
None of this means however small businesses need to move into the AI space for themselves. Artificial intelligence will likely be deployed as a subscriber service.
Just like companies turn to outside firms for HR software or legal admin, it may soon be possible to fully outsource the hiring process to a computer server, and to much better effect.
All this obviously won’t be free. But experts agree early adopters of data-based business practices will have an advantage going forward. So the time to invest in using data to improve your business is now.
Who will win the future?
Artificial intelligence has long been described as winner-take-all technology. The first to crack the code suddenly has an economic god in a box. It will price hack the stock market, invest perfectly. It will even rewrite its own code to do things we couldn’t have thought to ask in the first place.
Eventually, goes the theory, it will take over every facet of economic life and bring its single owner the spoils.
Fortunately, AI isn’t shaping up like this. So far at least.
Artificial intelligence is less like Hal or The Terminator or Skynet, and more like a series of expert systems honed for very specific, very boring tasks.
The lovely Siri in your pocket is fun to talk to, sure, but in the end, she can’t actually make you any money.
So yes, robots are coming. They will take over (some tasks). And you can’t beat them.
So you might want to join as soon as you can.
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