Artificial Intelligence used to be the domain of large corporations and government agencies.
However, thanks to more affordable AI software services, you do not need to be Walmart, McDonald’s, or General Motors to use these advancements anymore.
AI is democratizing business opportunities for small businesses around the globe. In the words of former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, “I believe technology is the great leveler. Technology permits anybody to play.”
Below are examples of how companies use AI technology to automate their business processes and reduce their costs.
Before we share these examples, we also want to address why AI costs keeping going down. By understanding these reasons, it is possible to understand how you can use AI effectively in your company.
Why the cost is going down?
1. Cloud computing
The cloud computing revolution has added a level of flexibility and availability to businesses.
In the past, most businesses relied on the on-premise servers or servers in the co-locations. Since AI consumes massive amounts of electricity, power, and server space, processing speed has a direct impact on AI’s growing popularity over the past few years.
How do we know this? Between 1959 and 2012, processing speeds doubled roughly every two years. This was known as Moore’s Law.
Then in 2012, it changed. According to Open AI, over the past 8 years processing speeds have doubled roughly every 3.4 months. Because AI is a data hog, companies must scale their cloud usage to match the growing data requirements.
Cloud computing has come at a vital time for AI. The amount of data we consume continues to grow. According to a recent study by the IDC, worldwide data will grow 61% to 175 zettabytes by 2025.
The cloud offers providers provide low-cost storage services for data that is being collected from numerous sources like IoT sensors, web users, app users, feeds, and more.
In the past, a company would only scale based on-site availability. There was a ceiling for what data they could story.
Businesses have never had such a wealth of data at their hands. However, they need a cheap place to store this data, which is why the cloud has become such a vital component of AI.
2. AI algorithm repositories and Machine Learning (ML) frameworks are available
Another reason AI will continue to become more affordable is the access to the growing number of AI algorithm repositories. These code databases provide business professionals who don’t have coding chops, with a drag and drop option for creating AI software solutions.
As more companies start to use AI, these libraries should grow. Here are a few repositories you can use for your business.
- GitHub Artificial-Intelligence-Algorithms– GitHub is the world’s lead software development platform. Developers collaborate on a multitude of projects on the platform. In this case, they shared 275+ different AI algorithms to use for your AI application.
- CMU Artificial Intelligence Repository– Not surprising, colleges and universities are some of the largest sources of free AI algorithms. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) curates a list of different university repositories based on topics like AI Programming Languages, Data Mining, Distributed AI, Machine Learning, etc. And other repositories like Source Forge, Bitbucket, Google Repository, etc.
The democratization of ML frameworks and platforms reduces the overall cost and gives a head-start to anyone interested in exploring ML/AI for their small businesses.
- TensorFlow is an open-source ML framework and is comparatively easy to use. It is well maintained and can be used across different platforms as well. They also have several projects listed on their GitHub page as well for developers to use.
Caffe, Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, and Keras are amongst the other popular available libraries, AI solutions, and frameworks in the market.
3. AI services being available through Platform-As-A-Service (PAAS)
The next reason for the drop in AI costs is due to the growth of Platform-As-A-Service (PAAS) providers. Leading services like Amazon Web Service (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure make artificial intelligence affordable for companies in the initial phase of AI development.
Without needing to spend money on hosting, companies can dip their toe into AI without hiring an in-house IT team during early exploration stages.
Instead, these platforms offer a wide array of cognitive abilities like vision, speech, and language to help startups and small-to-medium size enterprises leverage these tools.
How to use AI in your small business
As we stated earlier, you do not need to work at General Motors, Walmart, or McDonald’s to benefit from the falling costs of AI development. With a little ingenuity and a quality development company, your company can take small steps to use AI to improve its business processes.
1. Resume parser to help the HR process
Modern career sites make reviewing the sheer number of resumes challenging. The average position receives close to 250 resumes. Technology is helping companies get through so many resumes faster.
At Beyond Key, we created an in-house AI software tool that uses robotic process automation with ML to help with this process. The tool parses out key points from prospective employees’ resumes and learns from the output validation.
As of now, we are hiring roughly 5 new employees per month. Having a resume parser makes it possible for our team to short-list the best potential candidates who fit our needs much faster. The accuracy levels are improving with each iteration.
Instead of spending countless hours scanning through the thousand or so resumes each month for the open positions, the parser identifies qualified applicants for us to focus our time and energy.
2. Conversation Bots
Chatbots are growing in popularity because they offer an affordable and reliable solution for companies to help their clients without having to spend as much time and money on customer service.
For example, we created a conversational HealthBot powered by Azure Cognitive Services. The natural language processing from the bot relies on a combination of Language Understanding and QnA Maker (Azure Bot Service) software.
The HealthBot answers patients’ questions on a 24/7 basis for a pediatrician’s office in Florida. Because anxious parents might not always want to wait until the office is open, they can get basic answers to their queries whenever they need it.
The bot accesses a list of FAQs to ensure the answers are correct. Additionally, the HealthBot can schedule a time to speak with the right doctor about their health challenges as well as book appointments.
Using this solution has led to faster query resolutions for patients and a way to provide a personalized experience to all website visitors.
3. Detect Handwritten Text on Insurance claims
We worked with a leading group insurance provider that covers over 1.6 million individuals. On an average day, their 153,000 employees received an average of 2,000 forms per day. Many of these forms had manual data that was cumbersome to transcribe.
They came to Beyond Key to automate more of the process. The expectation was that they could use text recognition software to cut down on the laborious processes required to transcribe these forms in their system.
While there are a number of ready-made solutions like Azure Form Recognizer, our client needed a custom solution to fit their specific requirements.
The solution we created used the TensorFlow library and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to read the handwritten text. This process incorporated Machine Learning to work effectively.
While AI refers to computers working smarter, Machine Learning software learns from past mistakes. In this case, the automated reader learned from past mistakes. As the system scanned more forms, it got better at identifying characters, digits, images, and signatures.
The tool helped the insurance company reduce the time, effort, and resources required to review these documents That in turn led to a 50% increased response time from the insurance company.
4. AI-Powered Expense Receipts tool being integrated with a big accounting SAAS company.
A leading FinTech company wanted to improve its product offering by helping employees remove manual receipt submissions. Since the product integrated with their account software tool, it was important to ensure any receipt reader we created would automatically add the receipts to the accounting software.
The previous process, as you can see from the chart below, was cumbersome.
That is why we combined OCR technology, Microsoft Azure’s Form Recognizer API, and receipt modeling to read the receipt directly from a device’s camera.
By having employees add these receipts directly to the system, the accounting team saved a lot of time on the mountain of data entry paperwork. The streamlined system led to a 30% reduction in data entry errors.
The system is AI trained to pick up eight specific fields that are common to most bills. These include, but are not limited to:
- Merchant Name
- Merchant Address
- Merchant Phone Number
- Transaction Date
- Transaction Time
Finally, once this information is received, the data gets sent to the accounting tool, so the process becomes faster, seamless, and accurate.
5. AI-Powered Insurance Policy Cancellation Prediction or Churn prediction
A leading New York insurance company wanted to reduce the number of policy cancellations. By predicting these cancellations, they could rebuild relationships and develop a uniform growth revenue model.
Since they had been in business for over two decades, we were able to leverage a huge database of present and past policies.
Looking at factors like the policy location, gender, age, past cancellation counts, and other characteristics, we could implement a predictive analysis software program to reduce policy cancellation rates.
The predictive analytics algorithm would then score policies on a scale of 1-100%. Those below 50% were most likely to cancel their policy.
The above solutions were developed using algorithm repositories, frameworks, and platforms. Thanks to these tools, creating Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning programs is easier than ever.
Furthermore, the changes in AI technology are creating a new wave of affordable AI tools that are redefining how businesses operate. If your business wants to stay ahead, you need the right technical solutions for their company.
Affordable AI solutions can help you free up your employees from the manual time-consuming tasks, so they can focus on higher-value jobs that deliver the most value for your enterprise.
Latest posts by Piyush Goel (see all)
- How to Use Affordable AI Strategies for Your Business - March 17, 2020