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AI DOES WHAT?

There is a whole lot of talk about AI and what it can do for _________ (fill in the blank with your profession). As a marketer, I read marketing articles, consult journals and join marketing organizations to keep up with trends and for continuing education. I have read quite a few articles about AI and how it will:

  1. replace me; or

  2. enhance my marketing skills.

I wanted to know more because I'm inquisitive and let's face it, I'm a little concerned about being replaced. This article will help you (I hope) and put AI firmly in your bag of tricks.



A hand using AI

WHAT IS AI?

AI, or artificial intellegence, is "computer science that refers to computers or machines being able to simulate human intelligence to perform tasks or solve problems." So, with all of those words strung together, here's what it means to me: "Science has developed computers and programs that reason and learn on their own." To be honest, we've all been using some sort of AI for decades: think Alexa, Bixby and Siri. Don't believe me. Well, consider this: Google filed its first application for AI in 2008 and Siri, your Apple friend, was released on the iPhone on October 4, 2011. AI isn't new.


WHERE IS AI IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES?

You still don't believe me about the presence of AI, right? It's more than Siri or Alexa; way more. We've covered virtual assistants, so where else is AI - search engines, auto drive in cars (braking systems and mirror detection), medical imaging, drug development, fraud detection and ATMs.



AI in SEARCH ENGINES

A few weeks ago, I joined a waitlist on Google. I noticed there was a new symbol in the upper right hand corner, that looked like a beaker, so I clicked on it. Lo and behold, it was Google offering the opportunity to use AI in my searches. The feature, called Search Labs, allows me to use AI in my searches. Upon acceptance, I had to agree to a Terms of Use agreement and a disclaimer that the new feature is experimental. Being a creature of habit, I still use the old search box, but have used the new AI feature for extremely difficult searches, like one for AI.


AI in ATMs

AI in ATMs help banks and depositors. While the help strongly favors banks, it also helps the bank's customers. AI helps to: identify cash withdrawal patterns, help customers open bank accounts online, accept cash and check deposits (I've seen this in action at my financial institution - the ATM "counts" the cash and "reads" the check to determine the amount; all I do is verify) and the AI feature helps banks determine peak usage times. One example is using AI to identify withdrawal patterns at an ATM near a store or university. With this information, financial instituions can anticipate their cash needs and deposit the correct amount of cash for withdrawal; not too much and not too little.


HOW CAN A SMALL BUSINESS USE AI?

Before a business incorporates AI in its small business, there are several things management should consider. According to clickup.com, there are five distinct considerations:

  1. Ease of use - it should be very user friendly and easy/fast for your team to learn;

  2. Training and support - the product should be well documented, have tutorials and a responsive customer support team;

  3. Integration - will it be expensive to incorporate into your existing software and systems;

  4. Scalability - is it flexible enough to grow with your company; and

  5. Price - this works with number 3 and should be balanced between cost and value.


IS AI FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

We all know how much technology has helped us run our businesses more efficiently and helped save us both time and money. Technology is a necessity for small business owners. We can use it to make distribution more efficient, help us respond to customers/clients quickly and help automate tasks. (Wait, that sounds a little like AI.)


Chatbots

Those are just a few of the business uses for technology. With a little help and data from you, the tasks could be completed by an AI assistant. Like Alexa, but geared to performing specific business tasks; for example chats with customers on your website. Chatbots already do that. I'm sure you have a bot on your website, or have seen them on other companies' websites. It's the little box in the lower right hand corner that pops up when you stay on a website for a specified amount of time. The most popular bot right now is ChatGTP.


The bot has a human face/upper body and asks if you need help. The site visitor types their question in the box and the bot sends a pre-set response. The best part however, is the bot gets "smarter," the more it interacts. The "learning" occurs when the machine uses the stored data and "analyzes" is using self-learning algorithms. Don't think Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey or MU-TH-UR 6000 from the Alien series. At least not yet.


I hope this article has shed some light on all of the AI hoopla. I also hope you know AI isn't coming for your job and rendering you obsolete. That comes later. No, just kidding. There are things we humans can do that machines can't, right now. I'm convinced it's not going to replace me yet and it will probably make me a more efficient and better marketer.


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