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AI and SMEs: the pros and cons

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become more prominent in recent years and will continue to develop. So, why should you as a SME care? Well, AI can give you tools which could help you run your business better but it also has some drawbacks which you need to keep in mind when investing in AI. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of AI for SMEs.

The benefits of AI for SMEs

1. Better efficiency: While AI takes care of the routine and repetitive jobs, your staff will be able to focus more on what you hired them for – their specialised skills. This can ensure that you are getting the best out of your staff.

2. Better decision-making: AI can analyse a lot of data fast and this can help you to make better decisions with more accurate data.

3. Fewer mistakes: As long as the data which the AI uses is accurate, it will be able to fill in data quicker and more precisely.

4. Improved customer service: Many customers want instant gratification and if you are slow to answer them, they have gone with your competitor. By having AI systems in place you can offer 24/7 customer service and you can personalise your interaction. This will help you to have regular contact with your customers.

5. Fewer costs: One of the positives for a business is that AI can help to cut costs as you won’t need to hire so many staff members and you will have fewer mistakes happening through the use of the computers.

6. Better security: AI may have some loopholes which could be used by hackers, but overall it can offer better security as it can identify fraud attempts and help with data breaches.

The drawbacks of AI in business

1.  Dependent on AI: As AI does more and more tasks in our business, we may forget how to do certain tasks manually. This could lead to an overdependence on the AI systems which may create havoc in your business if the systems go down.

2. High start-up and maintenance cost: The initial cost of using AI may be high and it could be even more expensive if you create a custom system for your business. You will also need to consider the maintenance cost of your AI system. Though as AI becomes more popular and mainstream these costs will go down.

3. Increased risk of bias: As AI uses data to create, it can have a bias which pre-existed in the original data it used for analysis. With this in mind, it is crucial to remember AI uses existing data to learn from.

4. More safety risks: If AI is used to operate big machinery, there could be a safety risk if the program malfunctions. This could cause damage to people or even your property. You need to ensure there are fail-safes in your AI programmes.

5. Less creative: In theory, AI systems are as creative as its creator. They may learn from data but AI systems don’t become more creative. Activities that require more creative thinking may not use AI systems.

With these pros and cons in mind, you can venture into the world of AI and see how you can use it to the benefit and growth of your SME.

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