Rob Cottrill, technology director at ANS, discusses how SMEs can start adopting AI to maximise results and explores why it’s so important to embrace smart technology responsibly.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) was once a luxury exclusive to corporate giants. But thanks to the introduction of accessible programmes like Open AI’s ChatGPT, AI is now within reach for businesses of all sizes. However, although AI offers remarkable advantages, without rules and being used responsibly, it’s not without risks.
Defining responsible AI adoption
While most small businesses are keen to embrace AI, the rush to do so can lead to gaps in safe and responsible adoption.
It’s important for SMEs to understand how to use AI responsibly. No matter the size, businesses are becoming more aware of AI’s potential risks and how to mitigate them. Embracing AI in a sustainable, responsible, and considerable way, will boost resilience and ensure long-term success for SMEs.
Starting the AI journey
With all the buzz around AI, it can be difficult to know where to begin. But for SMEs, a good starting point can be using generative AI like ChatGPT. Generative AI can make tasks more efficient, from idea generation to identifying industry trends and can even help to develop code.
However, while generative AI can enhance efficiency, it’s important to understand its associated risks to ensure that AI technology is applied responsibly. For example, with ChatGPT, it’s crucial to avoid entering confidential data, as there is a risk of unauthorised access by external parties.
Responsible AI implementation
What does responsible AI use actually entail? SMEs should evaluate whether they have the necessary infrastructure for optimal AI use. Some key considerations for decision-makers include:
- Quality data
The output that AI can generate is only as good as the data that you’re able to feed into it. It’s essential to make sure that your data is as clean as possible and without duplicates or inaccuracies.
It’s also important to not rush into AI. For an SME to get best use out of AI, business leaders must assess if their businesses are getting enough data to make it a viable project. Without enough data, it’s harder to get relevant insights so decision makers should critically assess their data first.
- Alignment with business goals
Before embarking on an AI journey, businesses should align their strategies with its desired outcomes.
Think about how a project can give you a competitive advantage – there’s no point in spending a lot of money trying to achieve something that doesn’t give you valuable returns. Take a business in the insurance sector for example, using generative AI can help them to determine how much each customer should pay for their policy based on the car they drive.
An AI system for a business like this, can help to provide analysis of numerous data sets to arrive at a competitive price without human intuition, bias and manual effort.
- Resource assessment
Assess financial and resource availability for AI projects. SMEs must decide whether they have the resources in terms of in-house expertise or if it would be beneficial to collaborate with a tech company for a successful journey towards AI-driven digital transformation.
Especially for small businesses, it’s essential to properly consider whether you have the right budget and resource that these projects require.
- Ability to adapt and evolve
As AI continues to evolve, it’s important for SMEs to be agile and adaptable to technological developments to help them remain competitive in an ever-changing sphere. Being future focused is all about ensuring that that AI technologies have longevity in businesses operations and can become truly embedded in processes that last.
AI is here to stay, so whilst it’s important to start small, SMEs should also be future gazing and prepared for the pace of development in the sector.
The future of responsible AI
AI has the potential to enhance employee productivity, streamline customer interactions, and automate routine tasks, freeing employees to focus on more challenging and rewarding responsibilities. To successfully navigate responsible AI adoption, SMEs should consider AI impact assessments, develop AI policies, and stay informed about developing AI regulations.
Responsible AI adoption is a pivotal aspect of SMEs’ journey towards harnessing the transformative power of artificial intelligence. It not only brings efficiency but also security, ethical use, and long-term success to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Rob Cottrill, technology director at ANS,