How to make your startup (artificially) intelligent
AI technology makes your business smarter and faster
If you've always been intrigued by AI technology but too frightened to integrate it into your startup, read on.
Integrating artificial technology into your startup is much simpler than you think, and we'll show you how to do it.
Automate all of your admin
Lets knock off some easy wins first. Start by outsourcing as much of your annoying admin as possible to AI.
Yes, we now live in a golden age where robots can do all of the annoying admin for you.
This strand of AI is known as Process Automation. As the name suggests, the technology automatically completes tasks, without human intervention.
If this is the only part of your business you outsource to AI, you'll already have a significant competitive advantage, because you'll have more time to focus on what actually matters, strategizing and growing your business.
To identify possible processes you can automate, list all of the day-to day tasks that don't directly contribute to significant growth (AKA, tasks you would pay your nephew minimum wage to complete).
To inspire you, below is a list of AI solutions that already exist for administrative tasks.
Cortanta (Windows) and Siri (Mac)
Though you may only use them to ask about the weather, both Cortana and Siri are actually very powerful AI assistants you already have at your fingertips.
Cortana and Siri are about equally matched in their AI abilities. Even Siri is reluctant to admit superiority.
The operational functions of both AI assistants are just about equal so you should have no issues if you ever change platforms.
The videos below demonstrate the powerful admin capabilities of both Cortana and Siri.
Cortana demonstration :
An in-depth overview of some of Cortana's powerful capabilities.
Some great Siri productivity hacks in this video
Talking to customers is time consuming, and if you don't get back to them quickly enough you could lose a precious sale.
Let chatbots handle all of the annoying interruptions while you get some real work done. Chatbots can converse with your customers for you via a messenger window on your website. They can even automatically schedule any important callbacks in your calendar!
They're super easy to instal too, usually by just adding a script to your website structure. They should come with instructions on how to do this, if not you can reach out to a developer fo help.
Integrating AI into your core solution
This second layer of specialization is a little more complex, but it's worth doing because it'll enable you to market your business solution as AI-driven, which will get your startup scaling in no time.
Deloitte surveyed 250 executives to gather their insights on Artificial Intelligence tech in business. 51% said they embraced AI technology for its ability to enhance the performance of business solutions.
So how can you integrate AI into your core solution?
It's really not that hard if you understand the other strand of AI technology known as Cognitive Insight.
Imagine having your own personal robot at work with you at all times. This robot can let you know how your business is performing at any time. It can read through chunks of data and then advise the most efficient course of action. It can even predict what each customer is most likely to purchase and when
Welcome to the wonderful world of Cognitive Insight.
Think of Process Automation and Cognitive Insight as the two strands comprising AI DNA. If you understand this relationship, it'll help you understand how your business processes can be split into these two categories of AI.
Now the scary (but awesome) thing about Cognitive Insights is that the algorithms learn over time. That's right. The more data you feed into them the smarter they get and the better they get at analyzing them.
A business solution that keeps adjusting itself towards higher efficiency? Yes please!
Now, we'll talk about the process of actually implanting this bionic brain into your business shortly. For now, let's help you identify areas of cognitive insight integration.
Identifying AI opportunities for your startup
Customer behavior prediction technology
Start from the customer's side of things. This data will create the groundwork for an AI solution that predicts customer purchase behavior.
Map out the entire customer acquisition journey. Here are some questions to guide you:
How does a customer learn about your business?
- List all of the marketing channels.
- Include any referral processes.
- Do they download a free ebook or read a blog post?
What is the lifetime value of each customer?
- This is a calculation of the overall net profit each customer will provide before they discontinue their relationship with you.
- Include all upsells and related products
Who is your target market?
- Create in-depth customer personas to identify each of the unique requirements of all of your customer types.
How are your customers currently responding to your business?
- Google reviews
- Facebook reviews
- Glass door
What are customers asking you?
- Pull up all of your contact form submissions
What do you currently know about the behavior of your customers?
- Heat map activity on your website
- Google Analytics
Pattern recognition technology
Ok, now we're slightly turning up the complexity knob. Let's figure out how your business is currently identifying and analyzing patterns,
Pattern recognition doesn't necessarily involve only repeating sequences, like the patterns on that flannel shirt you wore around your waste during the Grunge era.
Think of a pattern as an identification trigger for a certain action.
For example, speech recognition is a form from AI pattern recognition or Cognitive Insight. If your business interacts with customers verbally, that's an area you could possibly integrate with AI.
When brainstorming possible Cognitive Insight solutions it's a great habit to identify how your business could be improved with this technology.
So with the speech recognition scenario, think about how you could improve the satisfaction of your customers with speech recognition technology.
If your customers find it burdensome to keep identifying themselves when they call you, perhaps you could use speech recognition technology to automatically pull up their records at your end when they just start speaking.
It's going to take a little imagination flexing to do this, but your end goal should always be improved customer satisfaction.
“A strategy of caring usually out-shines tactics, but when they’re used with the right intent, tactics can help a brand achieve greatness.”
Here's another example of pattern recognition technology
Let's say you run a coaching business. What do you think would be your most prominent class of data?
Student performance results.
If you have a lot of student performance data, how can that be used to better the customer experience?
Well, no student likes to feel invisible in a class. Whether you do face-to-face lessons or teach online, you could personalize the learning experience for each individual student. Give each student supplementary lessons to strengthen their specific weaknesses.
You could even use this tech to upsell personalized courses to help each student progress faster. Now that's a level of attention to detail worth pulling out the wallet for.
This exercise won't only help you strategically plan your AI upgrade, but it will also encourage you to assume the winning mindset of always putting customer satisfaction first.
Cognitive Insight can also be applied to any area of your business where you would like more transparency. This could be the ability to identify your net cash position in real time, or quantifying how satisfied a customer is.
With the proper application of Cognitive Insight you can become completely aware of every area of your business at all times, and, as a result, always be in complete control.
Now THAT'S a powerful startup!
To help your brainstorming efforts You can read more about the different types of pattern recognition technology here, here and here. Take the time to consider how each of these solutions could be applied to your business, be as creative and audacious as possible!
Integrating AI tech into your startup
All this planning and brainstorming leads to this point, and somebody skilled in this field is going to have to do the coding for you.
But before you rush off and hire a developer, do some research. Most AI tech firms and even individual developers are more than happy to consult with you for free to ascertain whether or not they can actually help you.
Read them your handy brainstorming notes. Not all AI developers are created equal, so one might say your plans are too audacious while another might be very capable of implementing them.
If, like most startup owners, you've been living off instant noodles and unfiltered tap water, the most cost efficient option is to hire a freelancer AI developer. There are no lock-in contracts, you don't need to pay them benefits and you can even chat with them for free prior to any commitments.
You can discuss your AI requirents a consultant for free here.
Rolling out AI technology in your startup.
Integrating AI into your startup doesn't need to be an aggressive tear down and rebuilding process. You should introduce it into your business in stages.
Silo any new AI applications into pilot projects and then slowly roll them out once you and your team become accustomed to the new processes.
To make your AI transition as efficient as possible, you can run multiple pilot projects. This is especially beneficial if they'll be feeding data into each other.
The AI developer you choose should be capable of managing and monitoring these pilot projects for you, so you don't need to worry about being left alone with alien technology. Remote collaboration is more advanced than ever, so you can work with a developer anywhere in the world.
You can't escape the facts. Most startups fail. You should do whatever you can to increase your chances of survival. By integrating AI technology into your startup, not only will your startup be relevant in the future, it'll have an incredible marketing advantage.
If your business isn't AI driven in 2020, it's already being classified as outdated.
"Any company that's operating in the tech space is going to have to use Artificial Intelligence. You're not going to be able to avoid it."
Greg Cross, Soul Machines