Is Your Business AI-ready?

Is Your Business AI-Ready?

You’re a progressive business wanting to stay ahead of the curve and your competitors. The market is fierce and fast-paced, and you need to leverage every opportunity you can to improve on operational efficiency and your customer offering. You want to be faster, better, more agile.

If this describes you, you’ve probably already taken note of the AI hype train. Even if you don’t know it, you’re likely to be using AI in your business already in some form. But have you taken a deep look at how AI can be integrated into your business and the measurable benefits you’ll get from it?

There’s a lot of fluff in the space, which makes it overwhelming for businesses trying to figure out where to start. You need to have realistic expectations of where the technology is at, and where it is going to be headed. Often, the excitement of what’s possible with AI in the future overshadows how it can be used today.

Today we want to give a real-world view of how AI can be used in your business, and then detail steps you can take to get up to speed and AI-ready. It’s such a powerful tool if used correctly, and hopefully this will get you thinking how you can go about doing that.

How Can You Use AI in Your Business?

AI in the workplace

There’s potential for AI to be incorporated into just about any department in your company, no matter how big you are. But what does that look like… what does it actually do? Here are some examples of how it can help.

Speeding Up Workflows

We all want more efficient and productive teams, right? One of the more potent arguments for AI is its ability to speed up workflows, intuitively adapting to what you do and how you do it, while helping you do it faster. An example – in the Smile IT office we’ve been using Microsoft Copilot, an AI natural language bot that integrates into the Microsoft Stack. It can conjure up entire PowerPoint presentations for us in seconds, saving hours of time. Copilot will also learn and understand our personal tone of writing and use that to create emails in a couple of clicks. These are just a couple of things this awesome tool does, saving us hours in the process.

Following Up on Leads

Automating some of your customer relationship management (CRM) processes using AI can help prevent lost leads and nurture potential clients. Instant chat messages or emails can be automatically generated in an authentic manner, before an interested party is handed over to a human salesperson when the time is right. Getting this process right won’t just increase sales opportunities, it’ll improve the chances of closing a sale.

Improving Customer Service

We’ve seen a massive uptake in AI chatbots on websites around the globe. They’ve negated the need to have someone constantly manning a chat app, able to answer FAQ’s and resolve common queries. You get happier customers, and the workload on your team is reduced. There’s a balance here though – nobody wants to get sent round and round in circles by a poorly configured AI help bot. Make sure the bot is fed the right data and is applying it correctly, or it could backfire.

Automating Repetitive Tasks

Ahhh, data entry. We’ve all been there – hours and hours of inputting figures into a spreadsheet. Thankfully, AI has put its hand up to take over this and other similarly repetitive tasks like inventory management and scheduling. It’s less likely to make a mistake, and much faster than humans, while also saving on costs. AI is a massive win-win when it comes to automation.

Marketing and Advertising

Sure, an AI Large Language Model (LMM) like ChatGPT can help you write up blog posts and social media posts. They’re not the finished article though and will still need a lot of fact checking and editing for tone and content. Where the real secret sauce lies in marketing is the analysis of customer data to identify trends and preferences. AI can give profound insights into your data that allows you to create targeted marketing campaigns with a greater chance of success.

How to Prepare Your Business for AI

Prepare your business for AIAI is here to stay, and in the near future will become more and more prevalent. Ubiquitous even. If you’re not open to the changes it brings, then you will be left behind. AI isn’t a silver bullet to fix all your productivity woes though. It’s a tool, and as such it needs to be implemented correctly. Here are some pointers for getting your business AI-ready.

Define the Goals You Need AI to Achieve

Before implementing AI in your business, it’s essential to clearly define the goals you want to achieve. Look at your different areas and see what problems need solving, what bottlenecks are in place. Does your business have the resources on hand to implement the AI effectively? Ask yourself whether a short-term or long-term solution is required, and what the realistic chances of success are. Answering probing questions like this will help you devise focused and effective AI solutions.

Research and Understand What’s Out There

You won’t be able to randomly select a tool and hope it does the job. You need to become immersed into the ever-changing AI landscape to get a deep understanding of the new tools and technologies that constantly emerge. It’s exciting to have your finger on the pulse of this electric space, and the power of your knowledge will inform decision-making and ensure you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

See What Fits Best with Your Existing Systems and Workflows

As an established business, you’ve got systems and workflows and a technology stack already in place. You want to choose AI solutions that complement that, rather than knock heads with it. Compatibility is essential to a smooth transition with minimal business disruption. The best AI is the one you don’t even notice is there, so aim for a seamless integration to your current tech infrastructure.

Be Realistic in Your Expectations

The AI fanboys are certainly out there, and to be fair they have a lot of reason to be excited. But we ask you to add a healthy dose of realism into your expectations with AI. It’s good and it’s getting better, sure – but it requires careful planning, implementation and maintenance moving forward if it’s going to be a success for your business. Set realistic goals, be prepared to adjust them as needed and don’t be too hard on yourself or your new robot friends if it doesn’t go according to plan initially!

Invest in Good Data

AI is trained on data, so you want your data to be flawless for it to work properly. For a start, it needs to be accurate – otherwise the AI predictions will be all over the place. Consistency in the data is key to a stellar performance – incomplete data will give you a half-baked performance. Clean, regularly updated data that falls well within ethical guidelines is the best fuel for your AI algorithms. Investing in that is a first step to successful implementation.

Review Permissions

You’ve got a solid set of organisational data for your AI tool, for example Copilot, to work with. Now you need to reduce the risk of sensitive and confidential data falling into unintended hands via your AI. You need to put a robust strategy in place that prepares and secures your data. Sensitive information needs to be identified and access control to it improved. Basically, it’s about having good content management practices in place before adopting an AI tool like Copilot. As it uses your existing permissions and policies to decide what data it can use, reviewing these is essential.

Train Your Team

Here’s what we think – AI isn’t going to take our jobs. But people who know and understand AI will. It’s essential your team knows about AI and how to use it to enhance their workflows and output. They’ll be more productive employees for it, and you’ll find team satisfaction will increase as a result. It’s all part of creating an innovative office culture with its roots in continuous learning. Now that sounds like a place people would want to work at!

Let’s Talk Copilot and Other AI Solutions

Smile IT is a managed IT provider, but we’re much more than that. We’re a tech solutions company who love to solve problems. AI is an exciting space for us in this regard, and we’ve enjoyed watching it gain steam over the last couple of years.

We’ve got a team of cyber experts here who can help with your company content assessment and define your Microsoft security and governance settings, so you can rest assured your AI tool is working with good data.

If you want to talk about how to get your business ready for AI or find out more about how we use platforms such as Microsoft Copilot in our workflow, get in touch here or give us a ring on 1300 766 720.

When he’s not writing tech articles or turning IT startups into established and consistent managed service providers, Peter Drummond can be found kitesurfing on the Gold Coast or hanging out with his family!