Be Like Big Tech: Top Artificial Intelligence Tools for SMEs

Competing with large AI companies is tough as a small business. Uncover the artificial intelligence tools to enhance your growth potential with our handy guide.

The names Google, Microsoft, Spotify, Amazon, IBM, and Apple have become synonymous with success over the last two decades.

While their excellent products and penchant for top-tier customer service contribute to their global influence, much of the success of these companies is down to their use of artificial intelligence.

With Apple acquiring 20 AI startup companies since 2010, Google an impressive 14, and Microsoft just steps behind with 10, these large companies recognize the potential power of building and improving upon existing artificial intelligence tools by ‘collecting’ the top minds in the industry.[1]

With up to $2.6 trillion in sales set to be unlocked across 19 global sectors in the coming years and AI acquisitions up 38% year-on-year,[2] machine learning’s potential influence in the business world is enormous.

 Top AI companies Google Microsoft Amazon

Okay, but I’m a small business, not a big tech giant – how can this benefit me?

As a small business, you may be wondering how you can match the scalability potential of large corporations without acquiring companies or investing in lots of expensive technology.

With significantly less capital to work with, you’re probably asking: “will I be able to achieve the same results as the infamous tech giants?”.

In a word: yes.

Small businesses can use the same artificial intelligence tools employed by big tech AI companies to improve customer service response times, sift through large datasets, and make processes more cost-effective.

Before we delve into the topic of scalability and AI application for small businesses, let’s explore what artificial intelligence tools these corporations are using to stay consistently ahead of the pack.

The Importance of Artificial Intelligence Tools: How Big Tech Have Successfully Harnessed AI

Predictive Algorithms and Monitoring

Since purchasing the artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for an impressive $400 million, Google has used its deep learning capabilities to accomplish everything from boosting healthcare to finding the quickest routes possible on Google Maps for mobile users.[3]

These powerful predictive algorithms used by the company are impressive and have led to Google cornering much of the world's finest AI talent. With Google salaries sitting at around $500,000 a year, this is unsurprising.[4]

As the company’s core search business depends upon predictive algorithms to supply search results that will earn them cash through advertising, using AI is in their best interest (and could be in yours too!).

Apple isn’t far behind in the predictive algorithm department. Their purchase of Emotient to gauge customer reactions to advertisements in 2016 shows a commitment to innovation and customer response, while their use of AI applications to protect customers from over $1.5 billion in fraudulent transactions within the App Store in 2020 alone shows the potential impact of artificial intelligence tools in the cybersecurity sphere.[5] 

Not only that, but their combined use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and human review keeps app ratings moderated for authenticity to prevent buyer’s remorse - something I’m sure we all appreciate.[6]

Consistent monitoring through predictive insights allows Apple to keep up with its competitors, even bypassing them in some areas by keeping customer security and authentic feedback intrinsic to their business model.

The key takeaway here? 

Try and keep up with the latest artificial intelligence tools to keep your products and services as appealing as those offered by the tech giants!

Unbeatable Customer Service with Chatbots

With their quick streamlined responses to customer grievances and the ability to free-up human capital for more important tasks, chatbots are a major win for businesses of any size.

Using natural language processing to provide human-like responses, these bots can understand customer queries quickly to provide a solution in record time.

Take the Bank of America’s chatbot ‘Erica’ as a singular example of this efficiency in action. Within 12 months of its launch, this chatbot had been used by seven million clients and had already resolved 50 million client requests – a far more impressive number than manual customer service teams would ordinarily manage over the same time period.[7]

If you implement chatbots as one of your priority artificial intelligence tools to get queries routed to the correct departments at lightning speed, woes regarding poor customer service should be a thing of the past.

Impressive technology

As AI requires more computing power than traditional algorithms, investing in the finest industry chips and artificial intelligence tools is part of what keeps large tech firms operating efficiently.

Google is an enormous player in the AI world, and the company’s unique microprocessors and tensor processing units (TPUs) allow it to conduct research and solve problems more efficiently than its competitors.[8]

The result? Hyper-scaling.

Although being able to afford top-of-the-line tech is one thing, what sets large companies apart from smaller businesses in the AI world is excess capital that can be invested in their own R&D. Better research and development at the internal level typically improves business performance and sales, with customers gravitating towards companies with more impressive product lines.

With neuromorphic chips now being developed by IBM, TrueNorth, and Intel, the amount of data that can be processed by these companies to assess customer preferences and gather predictive insights for innovation is truly incredible.[9]

Add the acquisition of impressive AI startups to the mix, and you’ll find that scalability goes off the charts.

How has this impacted scalability?

The ability to cope with challenges efficiently as your business grows is crucial to keeping long-term profit margins favorable.

Employing an excellent team of workers is important for maintaining a degree of personability, but eventually, artificial intelligence tools should be adopted by all businesses to manage datasets, improve customer service, and keep the user experience as seamless as possible.

If you’re wondering how large tech companies have been able to scale so quickly, it’s largely down to effective production and process management. A lot of this can be attributed to excellent business models and in-house innovation, but it’s also down to the competitive edge offered by high-tech AI models and a company-wide willingness to embrace new technology.

As you may already know, one of the largest issues faced by startups and small businesses is difficulty scaling. Whether this is a software architecture problem or results from poor economies of scale, failing to keep up with the latest IT infrastructure is a recipe for disaster.

Conversely, the tech giants have each experienced exponential scaling, with mass automation, constant R&D, and an incredible workforce at their fingertips. The result? Total operational efficiency that simply improves with company growth.

Tackling a scalability problem within your own business can be daunting. 

Yet, if you want to play with the big boys of the tech world, embracing new technologies and getting to grips with artificial intelligence tools can help you avoid the typical pitfalls that come with scaling on both national and international levels.

How can smaller businesses achieve the same outcomes?

Artificial intelligence tools for business success

Use Data Insights

Like the biggest AI companies in the world, small businesses can engage with artificial intelligence tools to gather data insights. 

Regardless of how small your company is, being able to assess consumer data and purchasing patterns to better market your product is invaluable.

After all, the customer is king!

Unlike Google or Amazon’s incredibly expensive AI programs, smaller businesses can tap into artificial intelligence tools that are either free to use or cost very little. 

One of the best AI examples for small businesses is Tensor Flow. If you’ve not heard of this handy tool, it’s essentially a free AI software library run by Google that can be used to solve everyday problems more efficiently. 

Able to classify images, deliver valuable insights on customer behavior for better forecasting, and even subtitle your YouTube marketing videos, this is one of the low-cost/no-cost artificial intelligence tools that any small business will benefit from.[10] Equally, Microsoft BI is an excellent tool to use that helps smaller businesses visualize current data to drive decision-making.[11] 

You may wish to enlist the help of a data scientist to get you started with these tools, but once things are off the ground, you’ll be good to go.

Even if you opt for more complex artificial intelligence tools than those listed above, any decent tool should help your company review past performance data and determine what customers find engaging and what simply isn’t working.[12] The more you work your algorithms and expose them to customer data the “smarter” and more effective they become,[13] making them a gift that just keeps on giving.

Keeping both existing and prospective customers engaged with personalized offers and regular communication can do wonders for your business, so don't be afraid to get a leg-up by using machine learning to target them.

Automate Your Customer Service with Chatbots

Adding a personal touch to every customer interaction is great. However, few startups and small businesses have adequate funding for a dedicated queries and complaints department.

The solution to this conundrum? Chatbots and automation.

As we’ve mentioned previously, by automating customer service and making AI chatbots your front-line customer service representatives, you can reduce pressure on your human workforce and resolve queries much more quickly.

Working 24/7 to keep your customers happy, it’s unsurprising that up to 53% of customers have stated that they find these automated representatives valuable and would rather engage with them before picking up the phone to call a company.[14]

What’s more, chatbots have a satisfaction rate of 87.58%, a surprising 2% higher than the figures noted for human-only interactions.With the ability to raise average sales by 67% due to effective quoting and sales functions, chatbots shouldn’t be ignored by SMEs trying to find their footing in the business world.[15]

Examples of AI for small businesses

Embrace Existing Algorithms

It’s no secret that implementing AI isn’t cheap.

This is because machine learning requires large amounts of training and initial cost investment to get up and running. However, the introduction of low-code/no-code AI solutions paired with the increased popularity of reusable technology in recent years has made the world of artificial intelligence far more democratic and accessible than ever before.

To avoid the tremendous effort and expense associated with building AI models from scratch, small businesses should investigate pre-trained algorithms that use base intelligence and existing company data to tackle business-specific problems.

Not only is this solution more sustainable and environmentally sound than training new models, but the increased use of AI on a global scale creates more competition and transparency across all business sectors – a veritable plus in anyone’s book.

A final word on adopting artificial intelligence tools

Sourcing the right algorithms for your specific business problem can be tricky, which is where the Smarter platform lends a helping hand.

Aiming to connect you with a slew of enthusiastic creators who can solve your business problems in a flash, AI needn’t be something to fear. 

In fact, you’ll soon be singing its praises as it helps to build more cost-efficient solutions for your business without costing the earth!

No matter the size of your company, adopting artificial intelligence tools is a step-by-step process that requires time and effort. However, by automating certain processes and keeping an eye on predictive insights, startups and smaller businesses can take steps towards scaling like big tech.

Provided your artificial intelligence tools are implemented correctly, these technological advancements should allow you to handle business complications and complexities in a cost-effective, customer-focused manner.

Good stuff.





[1] CBINSIGHTS, “The Race for AI: Here Are The Tech Giants Rushing To Snap Up Artificial Intelligence Startups”, last modified September 17, 2019, https://www.cbinsights.com/research/top-acquirers-ai-startups-ma-timeline/

[2] CBINSIGHTS, “The Race for AI: Here Are The Tech Giants Rushing To Snap Up Artificial Intelligence Startups”, last modified September 17, 2019, https://www.cbinsights.com/research/top-acquirers-ai-startups-ma-timeline/

[3] Tech Advisor Staff, “How tech giants are investing in artificial intelligence”, last modified November 9, 2019, TECHADVISOR, https://www.techadvisor.com/feature/small-business/tech-giants-investing-in-artificial-intelligence-3788534/

[4] Parmy Olson, “Parmy Olson’s View to 2022: Big Tech Gets Regulated”, last modified 31 December 2021, Bloomberg, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-12-31/parmy-olson-looks-to-2022-plus-a-selection-of-her-best-columns-of-2021

[5] Newsroom, “App Store stopped more than $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions in 2020”, last modified May 11, 2021, NEWSROOM, https://www.apple.com/uk/newsroom/2021/05/app-store-stopped-over-1-5-billion-in-suspect-transactions-in-2020/

[6] Newsroom, “App Store stopped more than $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions in 2020”, last modified May 11, 2021, NEWSROOM, https://www.apple.com/uk/newsroom/2021/05/app-store-stopped-over-1-5-billion-in-suspect-transactions-in-2020/

[7] Jane McCallion, “How Bank of America Uses AI to improve customer service and take on competitors”, last modified 22 Jan 2020, ITPRO, https://www.itpro.co.uk/technology/artificial-intelligence-ai/354510/how-bank-of-america-uses-ai-to-improve-customer

[8] Joshua Mayers, “Why AI is making tech giants like Google and Amazon even harder to beat”, last modified June 11, 2019, PitchBook, https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/why-ai-is-making-tech-giants-like-google-and-amazon-even-harder-to-beat

[9] Giacomo Lee, “Big Tech leads the AI race – but watch out for these six challenger companies”, last modified 9th November 2021, VERDICT, https://www.verdict.co.uk/big-tech-leads-the-ai-race-but-watch-out-for-these-six-challenger-companies/

[10] Viktoriya Kuzina, “Business Applications of TensorFlow”, last modified 15 December, 2020, SOLVVE, https://solvve.com/business-applications-of-tensorflow/

[11] GMAL, “AI in 2021 for small businesses”, Gregory Micallef Associates, last modified January 6, 2021, https://www.gmal.co.uk/ai-in-2021-for-small-businesses/

[12] Jason VandeBoom, “7 smart ways even small businesses can leverage the power of AI”, last modified 22 June, 2021, FASTCOMPANY, https://www.fastcompany.com/90648920/7-smart-ways-even-small-businesses-can-leverage-the-power-of-ai

[13] Peter Roesler, “2 Easy Ways to Use Artificial Intelligence at Your Small Business”, last modified Dec 12, 2021, INC, https://www.inc.com/peter-roesler/2-easy-ways-to-use-artificial-intelligence-at-your-small-business.html

[14] Brad Cleveland, “The stats behind chat: it’s popular and growing”, last modified November 25, 2015, ICMI, https://www.icmi.com/resources/2015/the-stats-behind-chat-its-popular-and-growing

[15] Gil Press, “AI Stats News: Chatbots Increase Sales by 67% But 87% of Consumers Prefer Humans”, last modified November 25, 2019, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2019/11/25/ai-stats-news-chatbots-increase-sales-by-67-but-87-of-consumers-prefer-humans/?sh=448973a948a3



19 January 2022


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