Best benefits of Generative AI for SMBs: A comprehensive guide

Unlock the advantages of Generative AI for Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) with this comprehensive guide, exploring its top benefits.

May 13, 2024 - 13:26
May 13, 2024 - 13:27
Best benefits of Generative AI for SMBs: A comprehensive guide
Generative AI

In the fast-paced world of business, companies are constantly exploring innovative strategies to maintain competitiveness. Generative AI (GenAI) technologies are garnering considerable interest for their capacity to revolutionize business practices across all types of organizations, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Generative AI offers SMBs the advantage of optimizing operations through task automation, thus saving time and resources. Additionally, it boosts productivity by providing real-time insights, enables personalized customer experiences, and facilitates agility in adapting to market shifts. Our article delves into experts' insights on the key benefits of GenAI for SMBs, alongside highlighting important risks associated with its implementation.

Crucial advantages of Generative AI for Small and Medium-sized Businesses

Luiz Domingos, the Chief Technology Officer at Mitel, a business communications firm, suggests that SMBs should aim for tailored AI solutions that address the unique needs of their businesses and frontline workers.

Best 4 benefits of Generative AI for SMBs

Creating extra sources of income

Aparna Khurjekar, Chief Revenue Officer for Business Markets and SaaS at Verizon Business, notes that small business customers are beginning to explore the capabilities of generative AI. According to the 4th Annual State of Small Business Survey by Verizon Business, 43% of SMBs believe that AI has the potential to create extra revenue streams for their businesses. This belief stems from the fact that, when utilized effectively, generative AI can optimize their most precious asset: time.

Mahesh Ram, Head of AI at Zoom, concurs that generative AI can aid SMBs in revenue generation. He emphasizes its potential in enhancing top-line sales, offering intelligent customer support, and gaining insights into customer needs.

Enhance operational efficiency

Domingos suggests that many SMBs may initially implement generative AI for services and support functions. By doing so, they can gauge the return on investment through productivity enhancements. For instance, leveraging virtual assistant technology to monitor customer communications is one way generative AI can boost operational efficiency.

Beale concurs that by employing AI and generative AI capabilities to automate routine tasks, SMBs can enhance their existing skills and capabilities, allowing employees to concentrate on more critical tasks.

At a broader level, generative AI serves as a significant equalizer in terms of talent, offering even greater advantages for smaller firms, as noted by Octavio Laos, Senior Manager at Armanino LLP, an accounting and business consulting firm.

“Unable to code your website previously due to limited resources? Now, with generative AI, you can create things that were previously beyond your reach,” he explains.

Create better content

Plummer notes that GenAI has greatly influenced content creation as well.

“Utilizing AI tools, we've accelerated the production of consistent, top-notch blog posts and marketing materials that adhere to our brand's voice (utilizing ChatGPT for drafting content and Grammarly for ensuring grammatical accuracy),” he explains. “This increased efficiency has bolstered our online visibility and interaction with prospective clients.”

Laos emphasizes that GenAI serves as a writing assistant or aids in summarizing information, allowing SMBs to save time immediately.

Unlock customer insights

Laos emphasizes that GenAI serves as a writing assistant or aids in summarizing information, allowing SMBs to save time immediately.

Moreover, GenAI not only automates tedious tasks, thus enabling employees to focus on critical work, but it also reveals valuable insights from customer data. This includes behaviors, patterns, preferences, and predictions, as noted by Vijay Guntur, president of engineering and R&D services at HCLTech, an IT consulting company.

Pitfalls & Risks of GenAI for SMBs

While SMBs can reap the advantages of integrating GenAI into their operations, it's crucial for them to also acknowledge the associated risks of this technology.

SMBs also face financial considerations when implementing and sustaining GenAI solutions. According to Guntur, significant initial investments and ongoing expenses are involved, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. Additionally, there are concerns regarding fairness and data privacy due to GenAI's reliance on extensive datasets. This issue is particularly relevant for industries like cybersecurity, diagnostics, and autonomous vehicles, where consumer trust and operational stability are paramount.

Quality control

Another risk associated with generative AI is related to quality control, as AI-generated content may not consistently meet desired standards, potentially resulting in errors and misconceptions, Beale points out.

Furthermore, there is a risk of over-reliance on AI among SMBs, which could lead to vulnerabilities if the technology malfunctions or provides inaccurate results.

Navigating the complexity of understanding and managing these technologies can also be challenging, particularly for SMBs lacking specialized skills and expertise in this domain, she notes.

Actual value

SMBs must carefully assess whether GenAI effectively addresses their business challenges. According to Laos, many AI projects fail because there's too much emphasis on the technology itself rather than the specific problems it aims to solve.

"Simply allocating substantial budgets to AI initiatives doesn't guarantee success," he explains. "It's crucial for small to midsize firms to take a step back and thoroughly evaluate how they will utilize the technology in the long term, rather than just deciding whether they should implement it."

In summary, SMBs are embracing AI and GenAI to optimize operations, glean valuable data insights, personalize customer interactions, and empower their teams, notes Beale. She emphasizes the importance of integrating GenAI technologies, especially given the resource constraints faced by SMBs, particularly in terms of skilled personnel for data analysis and management. This integration is pivotal as it contributes to the democratization of AI and analytics.

By simplifying access to data-driven insights, GenAI levels the competitive landscape for SMBs, enabling them to compete more effectively in the digital era. However, SMBs must navigate the associated challenges of implementing GenAI, ensuring careful management to maximize its benefits.

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