People have been finding ways to delegate mundane work to machines for centuries. In fact, economists have long written of utopias in which humans are freed from all labor, and can choose meaningful work or follow creative pursuits.

Sure, this sounds very futuristic and sci-fi. But AI is already incredibly effective, especially at automating the repetitive tasks that HR specialists, salespeople, and small business owners typically spend hours on every week.

Historically, SMEs have had a tendency to hold back when faced with new and disruptive technologies. While it’s easy for startups and large businesses with resources to make the most of new opportunities as they emerge, SMEs in the middle are usually left behind.

When it comes to AI, hesitation is a massive mistake. This technology is incredibly accessible, with massive benefits for businesses both large and small, which is one of the reasons why SMEs should be jumping at the opportunity to enjoy these advantages. In the race for automation, companies that are quick to embrace change and ready to pivot will be the winners, not necessarily the biggest.

AI and automation is a low-cost and accessible way for small and medium enterprises to receive real-time insights from data, leading to better decision-making. This is already happening in many different industries, such as the agriculture sector. One example is the machine-learning technology being used in the industry, which helps analyse the fertility of the soil while using weather and climate predictions so business owners know where and when to fertilise their crops.

Retail markets are also using predictive algorithms. These technologies help businesses anticipate the services and products clients and customers will want in the future. As artificial intelligence matures, this ability to anticipate customer behaviour will also continue to improve.

AI also offers businesses many different ways to improve and deepen their customer relationships. SMEs can offer greater service and personalisation with fewer staff members.

These are just a few examples of how SMEs can use artificial intelligence to scale and grow their businesses:

Legal Advice

A Chinese law firm has already begun using AI for legal advice. Users can ask legal questions and get accurate, reliable answers from the robotic lawyers, including legal consultation and guidance and document drafting.

SMEs are also using LegalRobot- an artificial intelligence tool that helps business owners and employees understand legal language and terms. After users take a photo of a legal document or contract, the tool compares it to thousands of similar documents, analysing it and helping users understand their own document or write a new one.

Big Data Analytics

Previously, only governments and big corporate companies had the resources to collect and analyse big data. Now, SMEs can choose from a huge variety of tools powered by AI. These affordable, user-friendly options allow businesses of all sizes to explore new markets and analyse client information- all while cutting operational costs. SMEs that can easily see where they’re doing right (and what they’re doing wrong) can use this information to position themselves so that they can scale effectively.

Customer Relationship Management

AI can make SMEs’ sale processes much more efficient. AI-powered CRMs use the latest technology to give firms critical insights into their customers, eliminate manual data entry tasks, and remind employees to touch base with clients.

Cybersecurity

Over the past few years, businesses have seen many examples of how cyber attacks can impact both the reputations and operations of companies both large and small. That’s why forward-thinking SMEs are using AI tools to protect their data and combat threats to their cybersecurity. The latest cybersecurity tools use AI and machine learning to detect any unusual behaviours, draw attention to new threats, and highlight security vulnerabilities.

SMEs that focus on leveraging AI early will be able to take advantage of a range of operational efficiencies- gaining a competitive edge. Adopting artificial intelligence will be crucial for SMEs, but decision-makers will need to be future-focused and ready to hit the ground running with new technology.