Artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence and its Growing Impact on Startups

Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used by startups to implement cost-saving systems and processes, helping them to save money and gain an early competitive advantage.

Reaping the benefits of targeted artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, they can quickly address specific issues faced when starting up in business. These include building a solid customer base, making sense of the huge amounts of data now available and achieving their forecast sales and productivity targets.

Startup companies now have increasingly sophisticated apps and software available to them that not only hand over mundane tasks to AI technology, but help to achieve reliable and sustainable growth.

So what are some of the main areas where artificial intelligence is making a difference for new businesses?

“Big data”

The sheer volume of trackable data that is available to a new business can be overwhelming. It is difficult to know where to start when faced with such huge amounts of information about customers, competitors and processes.

Artificial intelligence technology is helping businesses to track data patterns, and use them to their commercial advantage. Tracking movement in the buying patterns of customers, and responding quickly to changes in demand, allows startup businesses to become more agile and potentially compete on an equal footing with larger competitors.

When combined with the use of social media, artificial intelligence is a powerful tool to better understand customers, meet their demands and get ahead of the competition.

Related: Kevin Kelly Discusses Artificial Intelligence in The Inevitable

A streamlined business

For those startup companies that would otherwise have to take on administrative staff, artificial intelligence is offering significant employment cost-savings. Customer service and personal assistant roles can be filled using AI technology – scheduling business meetings is just one area where artificial intelligence software can take over, emailing other attendees to update them on developments.

“Customer chat” software also allows businesses to save on employment costs, as pre-defined commonly asked questions by customers can be answered without the need for the physical presence of a customer service representative.

In fact, an insurance firm in Japan has recently replaced more than 30 employees with an AI system that can “think like a human.” The firm has forecast a 30 percent increase in productivity as a result, and expects a return on their investment in less than two years.

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Data entry and other mundane tasks

Artificial intelligence is utilized in a number of industries for data entry, including accounting. This allows startup accounting firms to develop a role as business partner to their clients, rather than simply being hired to complete statutory accounts and ensure tax compliance.

Automated data entry within online accounting software, for example, where information from bank accounts is imported directly, allows accountants to focus on helping their clients’ strategically by freeing up time for both parties.

Mundane or “back office” tasks in other industries are similarly being carried out using artificial intelligence, offering considerable benefits to newly-formed businesses:

  • New manufacturing businesses can increase productivity and save money using automated “sorters” that identify and remove substandard items from the production line. Automated inspection technology is highly accurate, and can be of significant long-term benefit to new businesses.
  • GPS data and onboard devices within vehicles can be used to record and analyze an employee’s time on the road, and at a customer’s site. This could make logistical decisions more efficient, and offer a better view of whether individual and business productivity goals are met.

The benefits of artificial intelligence for startups

Professional services company, Accenture, describes artificial intelligence as “IT systems that sense, comprehend, act and learn.” The growing impact of these systems on startup companies has resulted in a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Reduced costs
  • Increased productivity
  • The ability to make better business decisions
  • Time to grow the business
  • Back office automation allowing staff to focus on creative or core tasks
  • Greater agility and ability to respond quickly to market changes
  • Better able to meet customer demand
  • Increased efficiency of sales or operational processes

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Artificial intelligence offers entrepreneurs the ability to start a streamlined business that is agile enough to respond quickly to customer demand. Reliable insights into customer behavior also enable clearer decision-making.

As this form of technology becomes cheaper, it is likely to make an even greater impact on startup companies. More automation of routine work will, in turn, allow business owners to focus on growing their enterprise sustainably.

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