Co-founder and CEO of FitPeo Inc., an initiative to provide better preparedness to those who need it most.
We have seen no shortage of impressive technological developments over the last few decades. However, few are more exciting or have more potential to transform life as we know it than machine learning (ML).
Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence that describes applications that learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed, and machine learning accounts for the largest share of AI funding today.
Machines that get smarter over time may seem like science fiction, but they are reality. And in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive world, ML can mean the difference between stagnating or getting ahead of the competition.
At FitPeo, we use machine learning in several areas of our business. Based on our experience, let’s look at how entrepreneurs can use machine learning to help their businesses too.
1. Leveraging consumer data for better insights
Companies today collect vast amounts of customer data. This includes basic data like email addresses, IP addresses, age, gender, and so on. But it also includes interaction data like site visits, user flow, engagement (post likes, shares, replies), click-through rate and conversions, as well as behavioral data like subscription details, past purchases, devices and average order value.
Machine learning applications can analyze this data to uncover insights you can use for more targeted and compelling marketing campaigns and better product ideas. For example, you might find a whole new group of consumers using your product in ways you didn’t expect. Armed with this information, you can start targeting this new customer segment.
2. AI Driven Marketing
Marketing experts recommend that small businesses should spend 7-8% of their gross sales on marketing. That’s a sizable chunk, and you want to make sure you’re spending that money wisely. Also, you don’t want your marketing commitments to distract you from other urgent or important tasks.
Automated marketing tools can do much of the heavy lifting, selecting and analyzing keywords, searching for appropriate content topics, automatically posting to social media, and sending regular emails. Some artificial intelligence tools can also create engaging ads for each individual user, giving your content a better chance of resonating and reaching the right people at the right time.
3. Improved decision making for stronger business plans
Developing an effective business plan requires knowledge of current market trends and the customer segments you are targeting, as well as a deep understanding of the problems you are trying to solve with your product or service. Machine learning can speed up and simplify this research by analyzing the market and consumer data and giving you the best recommendations to focus on.
4. Sentiment Analysis
Sentiment analysis is a powerful and increasingly popular marketing tool that allows companies to understand customer emotions. By understanding how your customers feel about your brand or product, you can improve the customer experience and improve customer service.
Machine learning tools can analyze thousands of data points across your social media channels, reviews, and content responses to gauge customer emotions. This allows you to quickly respond to your customers’ needs, intentions, and preferences, giving you an edge over your competitors.
5. Automation of routine tasks
Repetitive, rule-based tasks can take a long time to complete manually. These tasks include billing and processing, backing up data and answering simple customer queries. Fortunately, most of this tedious work can now be done by intelligent bots. And the intelligent ML-driven bots get better over time, finding new ways to improve efficiency and lighten your workload.
6. Customer Service Chatbots
Gone are the days when chatbots were clunky, unresponsive, and frankly neither smart nor helpful. Today, AI-powered chatbots can mimic human interactions to deliver intelligent, helpful, and natural-sounding responses. These conversational AI chatbots leverage machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to provide fast and personalized customer service anytime, anywhere without the need to code responses.
7. Cyber Security
We live in a world where a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds and annual damage from cybercrime is projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. Many smaller companies mistakenly think they’re too small to be on hackers’ radar, but that’s wrong. Cybercriminals can make as much money from many smaller companies as they can from one large company, and smaller companies tend to have weaker security safeguards.
ML-driven cybersecurity apps can analyze patterns and find anomalies so you can stop cyberattacks before they become a problem. You can also automatically check for and install updates and patches to protect your systems from vulnerabilities.
8. Sales Forecast
With the sales forecast, your sales revenue is estimated for a specific period of time. It’s an essential activity for any entrepreneur as it helps you make informed decisions about everything from marketing efforts, staffing and inventory to new product lines.
The key to good sales forecasting is accuracy. Machine learning tools use historical and real-time data to make highly accurate predictions about consumer behavior. These tools can predict which days, weeks, and months of the year will result in the highest sales. You can also analyze holiday effects (special days) for both positive and negative effects.
9. Price Optimization
Determining the price of your product or service is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs make and it can be challenging. Entrepreneurs need to be aware of price sensitivity (how a price change would affect the customer’s decision).
Traditionally, companies have had to rely on questionnaires to understand people’s willingness to pay in different areas. Today, data-driven models can deliver dynamic smart pricing. These machine learning algorithms ensure that you always price your products appropriately for your target audience and market.
Machine learning tools are getting more advanced and affordable every year. Today, a simple Google search can find ML-based tools for almost any business use case. However, it’s always a good idea to shop around and see which tools best meet your current and future needs.
The Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology leaders. Am I Qualified?