Connect with us

Technology

AI Will Probably Be Running Your Business Better Than You In 2028

Many local businesses, especially SMEs, consider AI “Tomorrow’s problem.” Failure to prioritise its adoption, though, could hobble your organisation in an increasingly competitive, fast-moving and disrupted business environment.

Rob Lith

Published

on

artificial-intelligence

The average South African may be familiar with AI (artificial intelligence) via virtual assistants like Siri, but the technology – where algorithms are applied to data for findings that greatly improve decision-making, customer experiences and products – is already at play in business locally.

In the financial services sector, AI is assisting investment bankers in their product recommendations as it’s unaffected by human emotional bias and memory lapses. The same analysis could be used by a cellphone retailer to pinpoint the best offer for a customer by cross-referencing their profile with the business’s full catalogue. In both cases, AI is not making the final decision, but deepening the decision-making process.

From a telecommunications perspective, AI chatbots can summon credit scores instantly and enable real-time automated transcription of phone calls. In future, it will be possible to detect customer emotion through voice analysis – using Google Cloud Natural Language API, for example – and alert call centre agents.

AI has uses beyond customer-facing interactions too. For logistics companies it effortlessly optimises delivery routes, helping to save time and fuel spend.

The future of business requires a balance of proactivity and rapid reactivity. Without AI to enhance operations, an organisation runs the risk of becoming too slow – giving advantage to more agile competitors as greater efficiency becomes the customer expectation norm.

what-can-you-do-to-integrate-ai-into-your-organisation

What can you do to integrate AI into your organisation?

Use what’s available

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google have thousands of developers working on AI. You could invest in proprietary systems but there’s already a massive selection of micro services available from major providers and other developers. Leverage off them.

Even if you aren’t ready to fully embrace AI, any decisions you make now, especially around your CRM platform, should consider the ability to connect to AI services. A rigid standalone system will prevent you from taking advantage of AI functionality. And as each provider has specific strengths, your software should be able to integrate with multiple AI services.

Related: Can Computers Replace Human Accountants? We Doubt They Can

Embrace the cloud

AI and its companion process, machine learning, crunch massive amounts of data. Unless your organisation is well-resourced, you may not be able to store and process all this information. The vast majority of analytics-focused solutions are cloud-based, removing infrastructure burden from your shoulders. To take advantage of this, you’ll need a reliable high-speed internet connection to transmit information to and from providers.

Educate and equip your workforce

Given the claims that AI will cause job loss, it’s important to get staff accepting of AI. In some spheres, it’s likely employee numbers will increase to handle the greater number of enquiries made possible by AI. Even in industries like mining and automotive assembly – where the integration of robotics and AI seems more likely to cost jobs – new positions will appear, and coding will become essential. The best thing a company could do today, then, is to start educating and upskilling employees for an AI-enabled future.

In short, there’s no reason to be intimidated by AI. As its analytical capabilities becomes more sophisticated, it’s likely to become even more beneficial in business, evolving from a useful tool to a reliable partner, drawing without emotion on a wealth of information to advise, but always leaving the final decision to the business owner. Companies right now should turn to solution providers to bring this invaluable colleague on board before it’s too late to catch up.

Co-founding Connection Telecom in 2003, Rob Lith is an ICT industry heavyweight and Internet specialist who has been involved in the industry for the last 20 years. His lifelong interest in technology has contributed to his in-depth knowledge of Internet markets, technology and products. Rob and Stephen Davies have long been collaborators, since their days at Internet Africa, which became UUNET, then WorldCom and now Verizon.

Company Posts

Protect Your Business – Let The Right MSP Manage IT Security For You

Don’t let IT Security add to your pressures — let the right MSP manage it for you and have peace of mind while protecting your bottom line.

Kaspersky Lab

Published

on

kaspersky-lab-online-security

With smaller teams, pressure always mounts and there is seldom enough time in one day to give all areas of a business the right focus. SME owners are required to appropriately apportion their time. Innovation and a commitment to growth are always priorities, along with the areas within a business that seek the most attention or ‘shout the loudest’ — but this should never shift the owner’s focus from the core principle of protecting their business.

IT security intimidations — malware, viruses and threats — are designed to go ‘under the radar’ and often don’t shout until it’s too late. Dispersed focus, along with a lack of appropriate resources has resulted in IT security within SMEs not getting the consideration it requires. However, considering the constant increase in the number of cyber-security incidents and the damage these cause — especially to reputation — a relaxed attitude towards IT security is no longer a viable option for any SME.

Related: A Cloud Is A Cloud, No Matter What Business You’re In, Right? Wrong!

Rectifying this doesn’t need to add more pressure to the list of priorities a SME owner manages. Rather, the situation calls for a reliable third-party investment to take care of the business’ IT security needs. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offering security services that will adequately protect the business and take the worry of IT security on board could be that helping hand. But, outsourcing IT security components of the business requires investment into the right solutions as well as trust.

Therefore, SMEs should seek the services of providers that offer best-in-class, affordable, worry-free and integrated security solutions that pass on the right protection and benefits to their client’s business.

In 2017, Kaspersky Lab launched a specialised MSP partner programme to equip service providers with tools, training and expertise, to become a reliable partner for businesses, including SMEs. Given the success of the partner programme, Kaspersky Lab is constantly expanding its offering to MSPs, including solutions that fit the profile of what an SME needs to achieve effective protection.

Top benefits of outsourcing your IT security to a trusted MSP

  • Advice on your organisation’s current security posture, identifying gaps that need to be ‘plugged’
  • Access to IT security knowledge — MSPs take the worry out of IT security by offering solutions that best meet your IT security needs
  • Support for adequate protection against the myriad threats continually facing businesses. The right MSP knows how the cyber-threat landscape is evolving and keeps up to date with the latest threats, filtering this into your business operations for effective protection of your sensitive assets.

Related: Is Data Protection One Of Your Top Concerns? It Should Be

Kaspersky Lab not only supports the protection of SMEs through the solutions on offer, but it also aims to support and assist MSPs in growing their services to accommodate the needs of the SME market — ensuring all businesses can take the right steps towards effective IT security.

For more information on Kaspersky Lab solutions please visit: www.kaspersky.co.za

MSPs interested in joining Kaspersky Lab’s programme can visit: www.kaspersky.co.za/partners/managed-service-provider

Continue Reading

Technology

What’s The Best Products To Sell Online?

If you’re selling online or thinking of starting an online business then you’re probably wondering what’s the ultimate product for you to sell. Read on to find out how to pick a winning product…

Warrick Kernes

Published

on

best-products-to-sell-online

So I’m not talking about the top selling product of the year and if you were looking at that product then you’re probably too late anyway. What I am referring to here is the best suited product for you to sell online from an ease and profit point of view. Here are five key aspects to consider:

1. Product weight and size

Your courier fee is calculated on either the volumetric weight or the actual weight of the product – whichever is the larger number. A large box of feathers would be charged using the volumetric weight whereas a similar sized box of bricks would be charged on the actual weight. This means that large and heavy products attract higher shipping fees, which you or your customer need to cover.

Some couriers do ship bulky items at fair rates but your customer will need to compromise on having a slower delivery timeframe. Another factor to consider is that your warehousing fees will be significantly higher for bulky items. So your ideal product in this regard is a product which is small and lightweight.

Related: Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses

2. The selling price

Products which sell for over R5 000 tend to require more customer engagement which results in time costs and a possible requirement for in-house product expertise. Products selling for lower than R500 can leave you with a profit margin which is not high enough to sustain the direct costs of completing the sale unless you are selling high volumes. Ideally your product will sell at a price point between R500 and R5 000.

3. Product support

Technical products attract a lot of pre-sales questions and also after-sales support. This means that you’ll need trained up team members permanently ready and available to help your customers. Having this in place is vital for ensuring great customer service but don’t forget about the time-cost of having your team members constantly engaging in pre and post sales support.

Be sure to also research the failure rate of potential products. Some of the best brands in the world still have an acceptable failure rate of 3%. The costs here include your time to arrange the replacement, courier fees to collect and re-deliver plus you might need to use your own inventory for the replacement until the supplier issues your replacement units.

The ideal product to find would have low or no technical support and a low return rate.

Related: 6 Steps To Building A Million-Dollar Ecommerce Site In 60 Days

4. Local regulations

Products that require local certification through regulatory bodies such as ICASA, NRCS and MCC could result in extra costs, administration and possible delays on launching your product in the market. Being aware of how these kind of regulations will impact your product in mind is vital when choosing your products to sell. Ideally if you can find a product that doesn’t require regulatory certification will be the easiest to bring to market.

5. High margins!

There is a perception that online retailers don’t need high margins because they have such low overheads. This can be true if you’re running a lean operation; however, if you sell products with less than 20% margin then you’re setting yourself up for a challenging operation. Higher margins can give you the cushioning for the mistakes of your learning curve. Once your business is running smoothly you’ll have more to reinvest and ultimately you’ll have a more successful business if you can find a product that sells well and has high profit margins.

Continue Reading

Technology

The Future Is Now – Ecommerce Retail Trends For 2019

In need of a killer outfit or shoe for an event this weekend? Simply log in to your favourite ecommerce fashion brand’s site and order away. Hungry? Just fill your online shopping cart with groceries which will be delivered to your door.

Daniella Shapiro

Published

on

Ecommerce Retail Trends For 2019

When it comes to ecommerce, it’s either you keep up or get left behind. And let’s be honest, customers may not care about the future of retail, but they set the tone and therefore, create the future. Retail is fueled by their unchanging needs and expectations. But just being online isn’t enough anymore, consumers want to do business and interact with brands in their own time and own way.

The trends in retail and specifically ecommerce retail trends are ever-changing. Let’s take a look at the forecast for 2019.

Get smarter, go mobile

What’s easier than shopping with your laptop online? Hitting the “buy now” button on your smartphone, of course! According to SearchEngineLand, nearly 60% of the total Google searches are done with a mobile phone and 286% more products are browsed on apps than the web. What’s more is that it’s forecasted that in 2019, mobile ecommerce will reach $218 billion. In conclusion, you should go mobile, or go home.

Related: Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses

Get real

Although the perks of online shopping outweigh those of traditional shopping, customers still want a personal touch. For 2019, it’s forecasted that approximately 45% of customers would prefer to buy from an ecommerce platform that is personalised. This could mean providing personal recommendations or offering exclusive deals based on a customer’s preferences. Including a “Your Wishlist” or “Your Collection” option makes for a personal touch.

Tap into your community

According to a Nielsen study, 83% of people are more likely to buy something because of a recommendation. An ecommerce trend for 2019 sees consumers turning to others for advice before making an online purchase. Adding a “product review” option and creating a social community draws customers in as it makes them feel like they are valued and that they have more of an input in their purchases. Besides this, it gets people talking about your business, which means more feet at your virtual door.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending