The internet, cloud technology, mobility, artificial intelligence (AI)... These aren’t just trends, but new directions. Imagine where your company would be if you hadn’t embraced the ubiquity of the internet, or if you didn’t have 24/7 mobile access to your email and business applications. New technology helps companies add efficiency and smarts — and as a small business, you can’t risk losing customers to your competition if they adapt before you do.

You’ve almost certainly embraced (at least to some degree) the internet, mobile, and the cloud… Now it’s time to jump on board the AI train. Here are five ways your small business can — and should — save time with AI.

1) Automate the small stuff.

When was the last time you leapt into the office, ready to push some paper? A quarter past never, wethinks. But somebody’s got to tackle the mind-numbing work of filling out invoices, updating customer information, securing approvals, and processing claims… Or do they? Thanks to artificial intelligence, you can offload those tasks. Here are a few simple examples of efficient automations by department.

  • Accounting: Prepare invoices, set payment reminders, and automatically follow up.

  • Sales: Score leads, auto-update customer records, and schedule calls.

  • Marketing: Send welcome emails or targeted promotions.

  • Customer service: Measure customer sentiment and respond accordingly.

  • Human resources: Score resumes, parse candidates, and respond to questions.

Salesforce automates tasks, so your sales team can sell smarter and faster — learn more here.

2) Try a personal assistant.

Perhaps you’ve never been able to afford a personal assistant (me neither!), but offloading some of your administrative work sure would be dreamy. This is where AI-powered personal assistants come into play. Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are the most mainstream examples, but new bots geared toward professional life are emerging, with more in the works. What can you do with them? Tons: Arrange meetings by being copying an AI assistant (such as Amy from in an online meeting request, receive notices of upcoming deadlines, arrange your travel (with Pana), send dictated emails (try Niki from, and much more.

3) Serve your customers better.

Want to up your service levels? Try artificially intelligent chatbots. Today’s small businesses are using chatbots to fortify the user experience and connect with customers in entirely new ways. Rather than spending the time and money to respond individually to every inquiry, savvy SMBs assign custom AI chatbots to answer questions, interact with customers, and even process payments. Too complex? Nah — Online tools like Salesforce LiveMessage let you create and integrate your own chatbots without coding. These friendly, hands-off bots can act as a first line of communication, saving you loads of time along the way.  

4) Make your email work harder.

Email is much smarter than it used to be. Take Salesforce Inbox for example. Inbox automatically logs emails, calendar events, and more — without any manual effort on your part. For example, you can set task reminders on emails if you don’t get a reply back from the recipient. Another idea is Google’s Smart Reply, which uses AI to scan the content of your emails and offer several reply options. Not all replies are perfect, of course, but for those emails that only need a simple response, it takes care of the thinking and saves precious time.

5) Generate insight from data.

What used to be trapped in an overwhelming schema of filing cabinets and databases is now quickly becoming a goldmine. That’s right, new AI tools can quickly parse all that data you’ve collected, turning into usable information. For example, you can adopt an AI solution that predicts buying habits for your product based on both life events and market-based factors. In turn, this gives your salespeople accurate information on prime prospects, plus plenty of ammunition to increase deal flow. And what makes such AI systems especially powerful is that they can learn, which allows them to adapt and continually improve. This helps your team save time by only concentrating on the qualified deals. Score!

Save time — and money — with artificial intelligence.

The time-saving benefits of artificial intelligence are undeniable, and small businesses looking to get a leg up on the competition would do well to get started sooner, rather than later. The initial cost may seem prohibitive, but AI technologies pay for themselves in increased efficiency and profits in no time. What will you do with all that time saved? You could engage in the value-add activities that help your business grow. Or you could read more of our thoughts on small businesses and AI. Your choice!

Salesforce can help you find customers, win their businesses, and keep them happy so you can grow your business faster than ever. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions or join the conversation with #SalesforceGROW.