How is data science and artificial intelligence related to business entrepreneurs? Aren’t these niche fields that are relegated to specific, high-tech applications?
Gone are the days of specialized, isolated fields of work. Following Industry 4.0 and the integration of computers and other smart technology into our everyday lives, various fields are increasingly interconnected and inter-related.
In this article, we will investigate the impact – and necessity – of data science and artificial intelligence for business entrepreneurs.
What is Data Science?
Data science is related to data mining. Scientific methods are utilized by a combination of interdisciplinary fields in order to extract useful information from data, which is found in various structured and unstructured forms, on the internet, in social media, through machines connected to the Internet of Things, among other sources.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
In artificial intelligence, machine learning and other algorithms are used to build and develop systems that are able to carry out “smart” functions and tasks and make basic decisions. The capabilities of these types of systems are growing by the day. Mundane or repetitive tasks are increasingly taken over by computers, leaving personnel free to do other, more involved tasks.
How Does this Affect Your Business?
Data science and artificial intelligence are often viewed as complicated, difficult to master and only suited to larger operations. This is no longer true. There’s a vast amount of data being generated by people on social media platforms, through credit cards and other purchasing platforms and machines connected to the IoT (Internet of Things). This means that even small businesses have more than adequate data and tools available to leverage it to their advantage. Data will continue to grow in importance as society becomes more connected and our lives become more integrated. Mining data intelligently and harnessing it will give your business a competitive edge.
Combining data science and artificial intelligence intelligently (excuse the pun) gives you a formidable weapon and potentially enormous advantage above your competitors. The information obtained can help to streamline, optimize and automate many areas of your business, including Human Resources (HR), marketing, planning and manufacturing. By asking the right questions, you will be able to know where to target your marketing campaigns, find shortfalls (existing or potential) in your current business and manufacturing processes, attract the right talent and plan for future expansion of your business.
Artificial intelligence can be harnessed in order to automate mundane or repetitive tasks in your business. Let’s look at a few examples:
You have a manufacturing business with an electronic order form on your website. Instead of having a person work through the order form and relay this information to the production facility, an artificial intelligence algorithm can extract the necessary information to send to the production facility, invoice the customer and even plan production and shipment based on the orders received. This allows more time for your personnel to do work of a more profitable nature.
The same would be possible for your Human Resources department. Instead of having to answer mundane questions, such as, how much leave is available for a specific employee, a smart algorithm can read emails sent to the HR department. If this algorithm decides that the question is easy to answer (such as, how many leave days do I have available?) it would send a reply with the relevant information. If the question is harder to answer, it would refer the email to the HR representative.
Artificial intelligence algorithms would not necessarily take over an entire position held by an employee. It would, however, allow that employee more time to do tasks that require a human touch, increasing their productivity and thus your profits.
This approach would save you time and money, streamlining your business and maximizing profits.
Who buys your products or services? Who visits your website? With correct use of data science, you can find patterns, establish client profiles and make intelligent decisions regarding marketing, manufacturing and even branching out into new territory.
You would know if your potential or current clients are housewives, newly married couples, young professionals or old ladies living in the suburb with five cats, or a combination of these. This would enable you to provide customized products or services specifically aimed at these segments, optimizing your profits. You would even be able to link this data to other industries in order to determine what other products or services your clients make use of and incorporating this in your approach.
Customers are increasingly demanding customization of products and services. Client segmentation allows you to meet specific needs, pre-empting changes and optimizing your return on investment for each specific segment. Pre-emptive action would allow you to update your services or manufacturing facility in order to accommodate new needs, before they occur, ensuring an even greater advantage over your competitors.
When used correctly, the data science approach would enable you to find more customers, since targeted marketing would expose an entire demographic to your products or service, no longer just a portion of that demographic. It would also increase your return on investment (RoI) through targeted, effective marketing campaigns.
Did anyone click on the banner ad you placed on that website? Data science could tell you what percentage of visitors to the site did click on it and who they are. You would also know how many times a person viewed your advertisement or visited your website before they made a purchase. If it’s an ineffective placement or ad, you could move it to a different location or website or even abandon that approach entirely. It would help you know which types of ads and what ad placement is most effective for your target market.
Finding the Right People
In order to grow your business, you need to find and attract the right talents. If you want to utilize data science and artificial intelligence to your advantage, you need experienced technical personnel who would be able to cut through the data noise to unearth the information you require.
Using artificial intelligence algorithms, you can mine the data found on LinkedIn and other professional platforms. This would enable you to shortlist potential candidates based on their qualifications, experience and other attributes without spending days manually combing through resume’s. You’re also not likely to miss a potential candidate simply because their resume got lost between all the other paperwork.
Planning for the Future
Intelligent systems allow you to determine how effective your marketing strategies and employees are and in which direction your industry is moving. This would enable you to make informed, intelligent decisions in terms of future planning.
Should your business expand in a certain direction? Should you change structures within your business to better utilize the personnel and other resources at your disposal? Smart use of data science would give you the tools with which to answer these questions, ensuring that you identify new opportunities so that your business continues to grow and doesn’t get left behind.
Using data science to your advantage would enable you to know which parts of your business are crucial, enabling you and your staff to focus on what really matters and defining clear, logical goals.
The correct interpretation of data will highlight potential risks and other pitfalls. This would enable you to intelligently mitigate risks in a specific endeavor through proper planning, protecting your investment and maximizing your returns.
Data needs to be user-friendly. If it’s hidden in a complicated, messy, difficult to understand spreadsheet or database, it will not help anyone and your business will not grow. It’s best to use a platform with an easy to understand dashboard in order to mine and filter the data that you need.
On its own, data doesn’t mean anything. It’s simply a tool. In order for data to be useful, you must ask the right questions. With a smart approach, you can find information in a set of data that would put your business at the forefront of your industry. When you can make data speak, you’ve found a powerful new currency that could catapult your business to the next level.
While there are many resources available on the internet to assist in learning about data science and artificial intelligence, it is best to learn from professional, experienced people in the industry. ExcelR is an excellent platform to learn more about this topic and grow your business intelligently and efficiently. They offer a variety of courses, specifically developed to enhance your knowledge and skills, enabling you to practically apply what you’ve learnt.
No business can afford to ignore the advantages and necessity of data science and artificial intelligence. It has become the driving force behind business growth, optimizing every aspect of your business, including Human Resources, marketing, manufacturing, and planning. Businesses that do not utilize this powerful new currency, are being left behind in the current fast-paced marketplace.