AWS Smart Business Blog

How Small and Medium Businesses Can Get Started with Artificial Intelligence

In a world where machines not only think but also learn and make decisions, the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly transformed from science fiction to reality. AI is a field of computing that focuses on granting technology the ability to replicate human-level intelligence. Attaining intelligence is dependent on the process of learning, which, in turn, relies on the utilisation of machine learning algorithms and models.

AI has the potential to revolutionize Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) by democratizing access to emerging technologies, enable them to compete on a larger scale. With AI, SMBs can level the playing field, allowing them to tap into capabilities that were once only available to large corporations. Limited resources, lack of expertise in specific areas, budget constraints, and scalability are challenges that SMBs face daily. Can AI help solve or at least reduce these challenges?

How to prepare your SMB for AI usage

Let’s discuss three practical ways to get started with AI today.

1. Define a use case for your business

Defining a use case is not just the first step; it’s the key to integrating AI into SMBs effectively. A well-constructed business case serves as a guiding tool, clarifying intentions, establishing direction, and addressing specific problems. With a clear vision and defined goal, it becomes the foundation for AI implementation, providing a reliable framework to measure success and transform business operations. Even as the specifics may change, it’s crucial to maintain a focus on the overall objective when initiating the process

2. Define a data strategy

Before exploring tools and solutions to harness the power of AI, it’s essential for SMBs to reflect on their specific challenges, business needs, and choose a well-defined use case. Furthermore, the backbone of any AI solution is a robust data strategy. Companies can use a variety of data types and datasets for AI purposes, each offering unique insights and capabilities. Customer data can be used for personalized marketing, recommendation systems, and customer segmentation. Sales and transaction data can be analyzed for trends, forecasting demand, and inventory management. Operational data can be utilized for supply chain optimization, predictive maintenance and reducing operational costs. As data volumes continue to grow year by year, companies who are able to establish a strong data foundation will be positioned to turn it to their advantage, outpacing the competition. The success of AI projects largely depends on careful curation of system inputs, the establishment of effecient data acquisition, high-performance data processing pipelines, and stringent data quality checks. To learn more, check out how SMBs can develop a modern data strategy.

3. Identify the right tools and methodology

Implementing AI can be challenging, especially for small businesses with limited resources. The good news is there are pre-built AI solutions and tools that make it easier to get started. Amazon has an AI Use Case Explorer that helps identify the right AI applications based on your business needs. There are also pre-trained AI models in the AWS Marketplace that can quickly be put to use. With Amazon’s no-code and low-code services, small businesses can integrate AI without a lot of coding or data science expertise. The key is starting small with a proof of concept focused on a specific business problem. With the right combination of AWS’s ready-to-use AI building blocks, SMBs can begin leveraging AI’s potential without breaking the bank.

Three colleagues in an office huddling over a laptop

How SMBs like yours already integrate AI in their business

Enhance customer experience

Many SMBs offer products and services to their customers through their websites and platforms. By integrating AI solutions into their offerings, companies can transform and enhance the customer journey. They can provide tailored recommendations, craft personalized experiences, and discover innovative ways to refine their products and captivate their audience. Lion Parcel, a subsidiary of the Lion Group, is a logistics company in Indonesia that established a robust data foundation on AWS in less than six weeks, reducing data processing times from 15 minutes to less than a minute. With a solid data strategy in place, Lion Parcel implemented Machine Learning (ML) models to achieve optimized customer segmentation and improve their workflows. They can now derive insights more effectively for targeted marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) activities. Read more about Lion Parcel’s success story with AWS in this case study.

Improve content creation efforts

SMBs can benefit greatly from leveraging Generative AI tools for content creation. These advanced systems can help SMBs produce high-quality blog posts, social media captions, emails, and more in a fraction of the time and cost. By providing the AI with simple prompts and keywords, it can generate relevant, readable content customized to your brand voice and goals. This enables SMBs to scale content production and strengthen digital marketing without large budgets or content teams., an EU-based company, with its platform built on AWS, simplifies AI for SMBs by offering various generative AI solutions, including text-to-image, image, audio, and video enhancements. They have empowered museums to enhance content engagement, aided printing companies for streamlined workflow, and assisted app developers in creating customer-centric experiences. Watch’s AWS cloud-native journey to 2+ million users.
Increase productivity and automate business processes

Increase productivity and automate business processes

Within the SMB segment, many businesses currently rely on a combination of processes, workflows, and human interactions to function. Adopting AI solutions has the potential to transform the way SMBs operate, leading to an increase in productivity and operational efficiency. By integrating AI into their operations, these SMBs can achieve full automation, saving time and eliminating the need for human intervention. MDAudit, a US-based provider specializing in compliance and revenue integrity services within the healthcare sector, acknowledged the benefits of incorporating AI-powered automation to enhance the efficiency of their external auditing workflow (EAW). Their main objective was to decrease their dependency on outdated IT systems and eliminate the need for manual activities related with managing external payer audits. They enable customers to safeguard millions of dollars in revenue and by the end of 2023, MDaudit customers will have increased their productivity tenfold. Read more about how MDAudit uses AI to improve revenue outcomes for healthcare customers.

How can AWS help

AWS stands as a leader, dedicated to crafting fair and accurate AI. We equip SMBs with the necessary tools, partners, and insights to responsibly design, launch, and manage AI solutions. Our mission is to democratize AI access, ensuring businesses, big or small, can harness this technology. We assist SMBs in pinpointing AI/ML solutions tailored to their distinct requirements and guide them in leveraging these tools for growth. Regardless of a customer’s stage in their digital evolution, AWS, together with its partners, guides them in discerning how AI can address key challenges and how to deploy succesful solutions for sustained success. AWS boasts the most comprehensive range of services, from plug-and-play AI services, to customizable models via AWS SageMaker. Users can leverage Amazon Bedrock, the easiest way to build and scale generative AI with foundations models in the cloud, to power their applications all without writing any code. Lastly, a vast network of AWS-certified partners are available to help customers drive innovation with AI/ML, offering top-tier services to fit every budget.

Next steps

The potential of AI is vast, but successfully leveraging it requires thoughtful strategy. Define a specific business case, establish a data foundation, and identify the right tools for your needs. Start small with proofs of concept using prebuilt solutions to validate capabilities. Collaborate with AWS partners to fill gaps in expertise. With the right approach, the AI revolution can unlock transformative opportunities, even for SMBs on a budget. The future belongs to those who embrace AI today.

Learn more about solutions and services specifically for SMBs implementing AI into their workflows. Want more depth? Read our free eBook. If you’re ready to chat, contact us today to connect with an AI specialist.

Ioannis Moustakis

Ioannis Moustakis

Ioannis Moustakis is a Solutions Architect at AWS with a background in DevOps & Site Reliability Engineering. He supports SMB customers and is based in Belgium.

Nadim Mansour

Nadim Mansour

Nadim Mansour is a Solutions Architect at AWS who supports SMB customers. He has years of experience in engineering roles at various companies across the globe. Nadim is based in the Netherlands.

Samuel Sopeju

Samuel Sopeju

Samuel Sopeju is a Solutions Architect at AWS who support SMB customers. Before joining AWS, he worked for Greenfish for four years, most recently as a Lead Consultant. Prior to that, he was an Electrical Project Engineer at ENGIE Fabricom. He is based in Belgium.