Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn’t just for large enterprises. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can leverage the power of AI through the latest technologies, too. In fact, SMBs everywhere are already on board the AI train — sometimes without even realizing it. 

AI powers many applications these days, and the results are so seamless you may not even know that AI is behind those technological advancements. QuickBooks, for example, can automatically categorize customer expenses thanks to AI embedded in its software. Amazon, Stripe, and Google’s G-Suite also rely on AI for timesaving features, personalized recommendations, analytics, fraud detection, and more.  

Perhaps you’ve heard about the myriad benefits of AI, such as deeper insights from data and improved customer engagement. And maybe you’re achieving those benefits already with the apps you’re using today. But the question remains: when will you consciously invest in AI to experience the full benefit it can have on your business?         

Small businesses everywhere are already using a variety of AI strategies, initiatives, and investments to drive customer growth and to build stronger customer relationships. In a recent Vistage survey of small business CEOs:

  • 73.2% plan to invest in business software or apps in the next 12 months.

  • 29.5% believe AI will have a great impact on their businesses in the next year.

  • 13.6% say they’re currently using some form of AI in their businesses.

No one can predict the exact impact of every technological trend, but one thing is certain: small businesses should not take a hard pass on AI, thinking it to be unobtainable. Why? Because it’s actually a great equalizer that can help smaller companies successfully compete with their larger counterparts. 

The core issue for small businesses is, therefore, how and when to get started with AI. You can’t simply go out and “buy AI” in an effort to modernize your business. Instead, you should consider using this three-fold approach.

  1. Learn more about the benefits and use cases of AI. What apps are you already using that rely on AI for analytics, data parsing, automation, and more?

  1. Think about how AI could help with your core business strategy. What tasks could you automate? What key questions could you answer?

  1. Consider your technology infrastructure. Where does AI fit in, and how would it integrate with your other apps? What are the financial implications and technical risks? 

Ready to learn more about how AI can transform small businesses like yours? Attend my Dreamforce 2018 session, Customer Insights: How AI Is Revolutionizing SMBs Today, at 12 p.m. on Thursday, September 27. In this session, I’ll share an overview of AI for SMBs and speak with two dynamic SMB leaders actively using AI in their businesses today.


Salesforce can help you find customers, win their business, and keep them happy so you can grow faster than ever. Learn more about Salesforce Essentials, our out-of-the-box solution for small business, follow us on Twitter at @SalesforceSMB, or keep up with us on LinkedIn at Salesforce for Small Business. Join the conversation with #SalesforceEssentials.