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Using AI to boost small business revenue

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Artificial intelligence is revolutionising the business world, opening up new paths for growth and innovation across various industries, JUSTICE OKAMGBA writes

Adopting AI can bring significant advantages, such as improved operational efficiency, enhanced customer experience, and increased revenue growth.

By leveraging AI-powered predictive analytics, businesses can make data-driven decisions. Moreover, automating routine tasks with AI frees up resources, enabling organisations to focus on strategic initiatives.

AI’s applications are diverse, including personalised customer interactions, fraud detection, and 24/7 support through chatbots, showcasing its potential to transform business operations and drive success.

AI is poised to revolutionise the global economy, with the United Nations predicting a staggering contribution of $15.7tn by 2030. Africa is set to reap a significant share of this bounty, with $1.2tn in potential gains.

As AI transforms the business landscape, companies that embrace this technology are experiencing unprecedented growth, innovation, and efficiency.

By harnessing the power of AI, businesses can supercharge productivity, agility, and customer experience, with AI leaders outperforming their peers by a remarkable 3.4 times, according to McKinsey.

To unlock the full potential of AI, it is crucial to deploy it in high-impact areas. Here are some key sectors and examples of how businesses can leverage AI to drive revenue and transform their industries.

Finance and billing

One of the most obvious places AI can help drive revenue in a business is in finance and billing. Having an accurate, up-to-date overview of finance can help an organisation know when to invest in growth, the Country Manager of Zoho Nigeria, Kehinde Ogundare, said in a note to The PUNCH.

He said if a business wants a steady revenue flow, it must send out bills, invoices, and payment reminders on time.

Here, AI can help in several ways. When it comes to expense bills, for example, an AI tool with built-in image recognition would allow a business to scan its bills with the system, and then auto-generate the amount, place, date, time, and category of expense, helping save loads of time and effort.

For billing, meanwhile, AI can greatly speed up the onboarding process for new clients by automating large parts of it. AI-powered tools can also extract relevant information from invoices, including customer details and product descriptions, and automatically populate billing systems, creating further efficiency.

Customer experience

Customer experience, rather than product or price differences, has been the major differentiator for businesses for some time now. Customers are willing to spend more, are more likely to stay loyal and recommend a business to friends and family if they have a good experience with it.

Businesses, therefore, need to pull out more stops than ever to ensure that their customer experience really stands out.

“AI can be helpful. Take sentiment analysis, for example. AI can help identify the most disgruntled customers, allowing customer success teams to focus on their needs and turn their experience of the business around,” Ogundare stated.

Improved marketing

The most effective marketing today is highly personalised and targeted. AI can make it significantly easier to achieve the level of targeted personalisation necessary for marketing success today. Once integrated with a company’s data, an AI marketing tool can create and hone personalised marketing content based on each customer’s CRM data.

To generate leads

Small businesses can now leverage the power of AI to boost lead generation and drive growth. AI-powered tools and software are making it easier for small businesses to manage social media, automate email marketing, and generate high-quality content.

Kehinde highlighted the potential of AI in lead assessment, enabling sales teams to focus on high-quality leads that are more likely to convert.

He said that by implementing a points-based system, AI can score leads based on their calibre, helping sales teams prioritise their efforts on the most promising opportunities.

This targeted approach can lead to increased sales productivity and more meaningful conversions. AI-driven lead evaluation can help businesses maximise their sales potential by identifying and pursuing the most valuable leads, ultimately driving revenue growth and improved sales performance.

Enhanced employee productivity

There is a direct link between employee productivity and revenue growth. Happy employees are more productive, and productive employees drive business success.

By leveraging AI to automate mundane tasks, you can unlock your employees’ potential, enabling them to focus on high-value work that boosts revenue and profit margins.

AI-driven automation not only enhances employee productivity but also elevates their overall experience, creating a virtuous cycle that propels business growth.

Bincom Global Product Manager, Olivia Wami, at a recent webinar organised by the company’s Dev Centre, said Gen AI has the potential to revolutionise business productivity.

“Often, SMEs find themselves limited by resources for content creation and marketing. However, they can leverage Generative AI to maintain a consistent online presence. For instance, it can generate social media posts or create product descriptions. This approach streamlines processes, saving time and reducing repetitive tasks,” Wam explained.

Embrace AI, but use the right providers

While AI can add immense value when it comes to driving revenue within organisations, it’s also critical that businesses know what they’re getting into when embracing AI. That means doing comprehensive background research and ensuring that they choose tools that meet their needs and adhere to privacy best practices.

“To mitigate these concerns, establish ethical guidelines for generative AI use within your organisation. Promote transparency by clearly indicating when content is generated by AI,” Wami advised.