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All business owners or CEOs need to ask themselves the following question on a regular basis: what recently introduced science can I take advantage of to improve my company’s bottom line by increasing productivity, reducing costs and maximizing efficiency?

One of the first businessmen to ask this question and to answer it by incorporating the relatively new invention of mechanization into his industry was Henry Ford [1]. Prior to his creation of the moving assembly line, automobiles were built by hand. It was very labor-intensive and very reliant on a stable, trainable and healthy workforce - and the finished product was expensive.

That question is as relevant today as it was in 1908. Regardless of whether your business is small, medium or large, most aspects of business operations can be improved through the introduction of AI (artificial intelligence). Like all new technology that has been introduced into common usage, whether in business or in everyday life, the more prevalent the use, the lower the cost to the end-user. That same price reduction through greater widespread use is now occurring in the AI industry.

Where AI is positioned today can be compared to the introduction of personal computers (PCs) [2]. Prior to the 1980s, PCs did not exist in small to medium-sized businesses or mainstream society with the exception of hobbyists and computer technicians and then, were generally only available in kit form. Up until the mass introduction of the PC, computers were the sole domain of big business, universities, and governments in the form of mainframe computers that were operated by a team of staffers and cost over millions of dollars. It wasn't until the development and mass production of microprocessors, the size of computers began shrinking along with the price. Try and imagine running a business today without computers. AI is now in the same place that computerization was when first introduced. Like the PC in the 80s, artificial intelligence in the 21st century is coming of age.

Most people have little idea of just how much AI is already part of their day to day lives. There are many examples of common AI use all around us ranging from voice-powered personal assistants like Siri and Alexa to banks and other financial institutions that use AI to monitor for fraud. AI is integral to aircraft autopilot systems and is now being used in the creation of smart homes. If you own a smartphone or are on social media, you are definitely interacting with AI. The video game market is a huge and growing business having embraced AI from inception.

If you are a business owner reading this article you need to ponder on the following question: how can AI make my business more efficient, more profitable and more safe and secure? Safety and security can be regarded as the protection and safeguarding of data and proprietary information and/or protecting your premises if you are a brick and mortar business. No matter what type of business you own or manage, there are many areas where AI can improve efficiency and security.

Take customer data for example. While AI is indispensable for large companies that have access to enormous quantities of consumer and customer data, it is also vital for small businesses that want to draw meaningful conclusions from more modest amounts of information. Advanced techniques such as statistical regression analysis (a powerful means of allowing the examination of the relationship between two or more variables of interest) [3] used to be too costly for small businesses with limited budgets. AI has made many analytical techniques affordable and intuitive. Businesses that fail to manage data and incorporate it into their marketing operations do so at their peril. Knowing who your customers are, keeping your data up to date (email, phone numbers, URLs, business addresses, buying preferences and more) can provide an edge over the competition in what is now a highly competitive global business environment.

Whether your business is big or small, is brick and mortar or is web-based, if you are not planning to incorporate AI into your business model, you are planning on falling behind. It is that simple.

If you cannot decide if AI is for your business or not, consider the following areas that AI is integral to; services, customer relations, computer vision, natural language processing, methodology, speech, graphs, games, time series, audio, robots, music, computer code, reasoning, knowledge bases, and adversarial technologies.

Your best new partner in your business could just be your friendly neighborhood AI consultant.


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