How can Machine Learning Help Small Businesses Grow?

small business

We live in the golden era of digital technologies and as the pandemic accelerated the digitalisation trend, more and more small businesses become reliant on software for their day-to-day operations. Moreover, the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its subsector Machine Learning (ML) is spreading like wildfire in all business areas, and it is no wonder that even small business owners are looking for affordable software solutions to nourish their growth strategy.

From my experience working in a bespoke software development company, I observe that many small companies and emerging startups already adopt or plan to adopt ML software that satisfies their unique business needs. In the increasingly saturated globalised markets we work in, the need for custom software solutions is more evident than ever. Even though it is still an emerging technology, the true beauty of machine learning is that it can boost your small business potential exponentially, leading the way to explore some of your most treasurable assets – business data. 

Now, let’s discover how ML can help your small business in more detail:

Machine Learning In a Nutshell

Before we dive any further into the ways you can expand your business through implementing ML, let’s briefly clarify what it is, as there are lots of myths and misconceptions out there. Essentially, machine learning involves computer algorithms that are capable of pattern detection and in-depth data analysis. ML programs can also build upon their previous knowledge and transfer it to new circumstances to generate accurate predictions. The three main types of machine learning are supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning. The supervised learning type needs huge amounts of training data (labels) in order to recognise information correctly and is primarily focused on single task execution. Some classic examples include face recognition, spam classification or ad placements. 

On the other hand, unsupervised learning is data-driven and doesn’t require labelling prior to model training but is instead fed large amounts of data. With the support of software tools, the ML program needs to understand the data properties by itself. This type is widely used for designing recommendation systems or clustering clients based on their online habits. Last but not least, we have reinforcement learning, which uses straightforward reinforcement techniques such as rewards to encourage the desirable system behaviour and the whole learning process. This ML type finds implementations in video games, robotic simulations and resource management software. 

5 Reasons to Use ML for Your Small Business

Machine Learning as a Competitive Advantage

ML significantly contributes to process automation, and its integration often leads to growth in revenues and employee productivity for small businesses. Currently, one of the greatest obstacles to growth in business is the inability to keep up with large data volume and rapid changes in demand for products and services. Despite the fact that smaller companies already use some kind of business intelligence software solutions (spreadsheets, reporting software, OLAP or visualisation tools), further scaling requires constant readaptation to compete with established larger firms in their field of specialisation. Those that find a way to successfully integrate machine learning software into their business strategy secure themselves a solid competitive advantage. 

Managing Customer Experience

With all the properties of machine learning in mind, it comes as no surprise that this technology can be applied to enhance a seamless customer experience that will help your business grow faster organically. Machine learning helps you identify and leverage large data sets with essential customer information like age, gender, interests, ad preferences, feedback etc. and create better customer experiences. You can also utilise ML software to streamline customer service processes like chatbots, virtual assistance, mailing lists, authentication forms etc. Ultimately, small companies that wish to scale their business should aim to provide an impeccable overall customer experience in order to stand out and gain popularity. 

Minimising Errors During the Decision-Making Process

One of the most significant benefits of incorporating this type of technology into the small business is the elimination of human emotions and cognitive biases from the decision-making process. The human brain is a complex biological system with limited data processing capabilities and data reduction mechanisms that prevent us from leveraging all available information available to us. Moreover, we get easily be overwhelmed by emotions. With ML, emotions are out of the game, and small business owners can enjoy objective insights based on hardcore data and suggest strategies, increasing the company’s profitability.

Data Mining and Data Analytics 

As a process, data mining is a modern approach for businesses to convert raw data into usable information. Machine learning for small companies is also offering insight into how social media is impacting the bottom line. This type of technology makes it possible for businesses to mine information from the social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and extract useful insights about customers, product trends, preferences and other valuable data. By taking advantage of social media, businesses can tailor their marketing strategies, reduce the costs associated with lead generation, and also lower their risk of losing customer data due to security breaches.

Cutting Down Training Costs

Why do large companies want to automate most of their business processes? Because this saves them large amounts of financial resources that can be otherwise allocated to business development efforts or invested in opportunities for more complex training. Since machine learning effectively identifies trends and patterns, there is a reduced need for employees to perform tedious training tasks, e.g. onboarding processes or technical training. This saves time and money, as well as human resources, as some specialists are specifically hired to provide existing employees with on-the-job training. 

Author Biography Aleksandrina Vasileva 

Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen оn innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background, mixed with interests in psychology, drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and an enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.  

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