AI has many benefits and will be mainstream in a matter of years. But that doesn’t mean all business owners and organizations should hop on board immediately.

As machine learning makes its way into our world, it’s easy to get excited. Take these examples of how you are probably using AI right now:

  • Siri and Alexa – Apple’s voice assistant and Amazon’s home hub use machine-learning technology to better predict and understand our questions and requests.
  • Amazon is, of course, refining its algorithms all the time to the point where it can predict our interests and thus encourage us to buy more. Netflix and Pandora are using it similarly, recommending new movies and music based on prior behavior.
  • Cogito – This company uses machine learning and behavioral science to improve customer service, among other applications.
  • Concierge services – If Netflix and Amazon can predict what you like, why not apply that technology to concierge services? Some companies already have, especially those serving the wealthy.
  • Smart cars – These are still a work in progress, but self-driving cars are on the way.
  • Fraud detection – Machines are being trained to spot purchases that don’t fit within a consumer’s normal behavior. If you have ever received an email from your bank asking about a charge, a computer most likely alerted you.
  • Customer support – Many companies offer a basic chatbot that can respond with automated messages. Some of these systems are learning to process the way we write and speak. However, many still have a human at the other end in case customers require further help.

When Not to Leverage AI

With all these fun and useful tools appearing, AI has become a buzzword and is now a popular movement for businesses. This frenzy has many asking, “Where do I sign up?”

However, for many businesses, the uses of AI are much less exciting than self-driving cars. You don’t buy an AI solution, but leverage machine learning to analyze data. The outputs can then be used to make improvements in your company, products, and services. And there are some situations when AI is not the right approach for your business:

  1. Low budget. While leveraging AI comes with a massive return on your investment, that return may not be immediate. The price will come down as it does for any new technology. But micro business owners or companies with a small budget can’t enter the AI space just yet.
  2. Lack of data. Data abounds, whether it’s about your employees, your customers, or data sources you find elsewhere. However, if your company data is only a few dozen employees and a few hundred customers, AI won’t have enough information to produce a useful and accurate analysis. Machine learning works best with millions of data points. The systems require a lot more data so they can learn as they process.
  3. No scope. The latest and greatest technology is cool. Who doesn’t want to be part of it? But if you’re delving into AI just for the sake of it, don’t. A recent Harvard Business Review article said The First Wave of Corporate AI is Doomed to Fail. In it, the authors point to the failures of companies who jumped into new technology headfirst with the expectation of a big win. Technology needs trial and error. To use AI to its current full effect, define your goals. Set a barometer for success. Create a plan for using the results that will benefit your business, whether it’s financially or otherwise.
  4. Data you haven’t examined. You may possess the millions of data points. But if you haven’t looked at it yourself, what do you expect to gain by using AI? Know your data so you can create a scope.
  5. You have no idea how it works. It’s important to understand the limitations of technology, but what may really hold us back is our lack of imagination according to MIT Sloan School professor Erik Brynjolfsson. He said in an interview, “What’s not holding us back is the technology, what is holding us back is the imagination of business executives to use these new tools in their businesses. You know, with every general-purpose technology, whether it’s electricity or the internal combustion engine the real power comes from thinking of new ways of organizing your factory, new ways of connecting to your customers, new business models. That’s where the real value comes.”
  6. You can’t commit. There is no single tool that is “AI,” where you send it all your spreadsheets and boom! — Out pops brilliant analysis that’s going to morph your business overnight. To leverage AI, you hire a team will build a customized system around your data, so you must be prepared to work in that way.

If your company is ready to leverage AI, contact us to build your custom system.


Pete Peranzo

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