Does Investing in AI Make Sense for Small Businesses?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next big thing. At least that is what we have been told for years. And while there are pretty amazing applications for AI, it isn’t something that will drastically change the way small- or medium-sized businesses will do things in the short-term.

Many consulting firms are pushing AI to their largest clients but not so much to smaller ones. Why? Because the amount of money it takes to develop and implement AI projects is out of reach for most businesses. Even companies with seemingly endless budgets are moving cautiously when it comes AI.

While some CEOs are taking the plunge, many are doing so for no other reason than they have heard it is the “it” tool and they want to have it in their arsenal no matter what the cost. The savviest CEOs, however, believe that there has not been enough research and are taking a wait-and-see approach or are moving very slowly.

This is not to say that AI is not a powerful tool that can drastically impact businesses but to do it right, it is going to involve a hefty investment. For example, hiring an AI engineer is likely to set a company back millions of dollars just in terms of compensation.

According to Greg Chambers of LeadGen Compass, it all comes down to ROI.

“Google is using AI to take the guesswork out of ad buying, but it really only makes sense if you are spending $100,000 or more a year on pay-per-click adds a year which is not something most small businesses are doing,” Chambers said.

Some experts go even further and say that it doesn’t make sense to implement AI for a single application – at least not for now. However, as is the case with most technologies, its use will likely become more widespread over time as the cost of applications drop.

In the meantime, small- and medium-sized businesses who are interested in AI should take a measured approach. Rushing in with a large investment is definitely not the way to go. Instead, it is important to start slow and increase AI efforts over time. Sticking with this approach will
allow you to safeguard any investment you are willing to make in AI.

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