Skip to main content

AI is coming. Here’s how small-business owners can prepare their companies.

By March 13, 2024No Comments

(This column originally appeared in The Inquirer)


Artificial Intelligence is a hot topic this year as big tech firms like Google, OpenAI, and Microsoft roll out products that can not only act as an expert assistant for research and other tasks but can also help craft better emails, quickly create presentations, analyze spreadsheet data, and identify supply chain issues. Most of us in the technology industry are excited not only with what’s available now, but what’s coming in the very near future.

“Think of it as an army of personal and professional assistants who can sift through thousands of pages of data to provide you with the 10 pieces that might be most applicable to your query. Or its ability to handle repetitive tasks exponentially faster than humans,” said Rick DeLello, a vice president at business software provider Informed Systems Inc. in Blue Bell. “It won’t replace human workers in my opinion but will allow them much greater productivity capacity.”

AI is still early days and it’s hard to predict all the ways it will be used in the next few years, but there are specific things businesses can be doing now to make sure they stay ahead of this fast-changing technology.

Unless you’re in the software business, it’s unlikely that you’ll be developing your own AI solutions. But those in the software business certainly are and it’s our job — as business owners — to speak to the companies that provide accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management, and other software and find out what AI functionality they’re rolling out. Maybe it’s a faster way to respond to customers or a quicker methodology for billing or collecting receivables. We should be getting demonstrations and kicking the tires on new features.

In addition to talking to vendors, it’s just as important to find out what other businesses and people in our professional communities are doing.

“We tell our clients they need to do whatever they can to get educated on AI now,” said Anthony Mongeluzo, the president of PCS LLC, a Moorestown, technology services provider. “Hopefully peer groups and industry groups can help. Most people think of ChatGPT when you say AI, but there are tens of thousands of AI apps out there to utilize and integrate with your technologies.”

DeLello says that it’s critical to figure out what uses of AI will most benefit your business. To that end, he recommends looking at your internal business processes and figuring out which ones are most definable and repeatable and where there isn’t enough time or resources to accomplish.

“As a potential transactional engine, AI can provide a great boost to productivity,” he says. “For example, AI can be a great tool for content creation. Having AI draft blog posts for your business is a simple and effective way to leverage a task that many small-business owners would like to do but often don’t have enough time to complete.”

DeLello also says that business owners should be thinking in terms of taking small actionable steps first and then expand out as quickly as they feel comfortable.

Once you talk to your vendors and others in your community you’ll be getting a good idea where you will want to focus your AI efforts. At that point, it’s important to get your databases in shape.

Brian Pickell, who owns KPInterface, a technology consulting firm in Limerick, says that in order to leverage AI to its fullest advantage for any company, the data that it’s pulling from needs to be as accurate as possible.

“Otherwise, AI will be relying on inaccurate or incomplete data, and its results will also be inaccurate and incomplete,” he said.

Pickell and other experts agree that with so many AI apps popping up it’s important to figure out what applications are acceptable for your business, which employees are allowed to use these applications, and what the tech will be used for.

For people to use and trust AI, they have to be able to trust its reliability,” Pickell said. “A well-thought-out policy can help ensure that we reap the benefits of AI while minimizing the risk. It is not just about using AI responsibly but also about creating a future where AI works for everyone in a positive way.

Why is leveraging AI so important? It’s because the companies who use it the right way will be significantly more productive … and profitable.

“AI will eliminate certain basic positions, but for the most part it will empower employers to use their employees’ talents better,” said Mongeluzo.

Skip to content