1. Beth sydd wir angen i chi ei wybod

Voice recognition service for banking, customer support from call centre, online shopping behaviour analysis... if you have used any of these servicing or systems, you have already experienced AI (Artificial Intelligence) and its impact changing business operations and the services provided to customers.

According to research by The Economist's Intelligence Unit, 90% of businesses surveyed expect AI to have a positive impact on growth over the next five years, with even more saying it is important to solve strategic challenges.

According to the same survey, the race to use AI in businesses has already begun, with over a quarter of respondents having already introduced it as part of key processes. This comes despite concerns over skills and safety, but that does not dispel optimism as new growth paths need to be found in times of uncertainty.

The rapid use and development of AI is a response by businesses to the changing markets. They must reduce costs, improve their efficiency and provide even more services to their customers in order to continue to make a profit. AI enables either the complete automation of many processes, or significantly reduces the amount that humans have to intervene in them.

Even the smallest businesses can access AI. The key to using AI effectively is understanding what it could provide to your business, but also being aware of its limitations. AI is the new popular term, but it's important to consider what your business needs before investing.

In order to remain competitive on the market, be fully supportive of your customers and make a profit in the longer term, your business should consider what AI could offer, including improving customer service and gathering detailed information through AI data analysis.

2. Beth yw AI?

AI is used as an umbrella term to group a number of technologies together. The most well-known AI technology is machine learning. This refers to systems that can improve their performance when given more information. A good example is an online credit card fraud prevention system. Your bank's AI system learns about your spending habits and when a payment appears not to match the profile compiled by the AI, it alerts the bank to possible fraud.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is another practical AI system. With this system, computers are taught to understand speech. When you call your bank or energy supplier, in the past you would have had to manually enter your account number and persevere through long automated switchboards to find the support you needed. You can now state your answers verbally. This is AI in action.

Automation is also a big part of AI. All businesses are trying to ensure more efficient processes to reduce costs. Preventing people from performing repetitive tasks is a big motivator for all businesses to use AI. AI 'bots' can help a business run much more efficiently as they act as digital assistants. A recent example involves an AI chat bot called Sage that can help a business manage its money and taxes better.

Unsure where to start with digital technology? Visit our Knowledge Fund for the latest advice and guidance.

AI is also having a big impact on marketing. The more directly your business can tailor its marketing and advertising activity to specific groups or individuals, the more successful it will be. AI can assess and analyze massive amounts of data to understand what motivates your customers to make purchases. With this information at hand, a business could better develop new services and products.

Paul Clarke, Chief Technology Officer at Ocado, said: "AI must be at the heart of everything we do now. I'm sending that message to all the tech teams at Ocado. In the past, the message would have been 'Collect all the data and make sure everything is measurable.' The message now is: 'Collect the data and make sure everything is architected for AI from the start.'"

3. Sut gall busnesau bach a chanolig ddefnyddio AI heddiw?

There are many options for your business to start using AI systems today, including:

Amy, developed by x.ai, is a personal assistant who can schedule meetings for you. Amy can make it easier to arrange meetings and then manage the inevitable rescheduling.

This clever to-do list could help you manage your calendar, events and meetings. The bot is intelligent enough to collect all the information you need based on the topic of the meeting or event.

Tamr If your business has data stored on different systems, Tamr can help you integrate your data together to uncover possible ways you could develop your business's products or services.

Recorded Future
Your business can be vulnerable to cyber attack at any time. This AI automatically looks for potential threats to your company and its customers.

This platform adds a layer of AI to your contact center or customer service team. Using predictive automation, this AI could improve your customer service response through better targeted information.

SalesforceIQ If your business already uses a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, SalesforceIQ
adds AI components that could improve your CRM with more detailed information about customer behavior.

Small businesses often use more than one AI system or service together to create and/or improve the overall efficiency of their enterprises. In most cases, you can test the systems yourself to see what impact they could have on your own business and management skills.

4. Beth yw prif fanteision defnyddio AI?

For SMEs, the main benefit of using AI is improved efficiency and reduced costs. Using AI is similar to using data analytics applications, CRM systems or automating back office processes. But, AI is a little different in that it can improve the services it provides through learning.

Using AI could offer the following to your business:

  • Improvements in its day-to-day operations.
  • Targeted marketing with more detailed information about customers' buying habits.
  • Robust safeguards against cyber attacks.
  • A level of automation that could improve systems performance.
  • Reduced costs through automation and efficiency gains.
  • Analyze data to uncover new potential markets for your business's goods or services.
  • More efficient customer service leads to improved brand loyalty.

In a competitive market, any steps taken by a business to reduce costs, establish a new channel to communicate with customers or improve customer service are welcome, but there is also practical application. AI could help a business make cost savings, establish closer links with customers, and help significantly improve how business is managed.

5. Sut ydych chi’n dechrau defnyddio AI yn eich busnes?

As with any changes you want to make to your business, ask yourself what are your goals for AI? This is essential so that you can assess whether the AI systems you are using are working.

Often, you can start using an AI system right away. Many AI systems are apps you install on your mobile devices or online services that you can use on any device connected to the internet.

Gluru is a good example of AI that you download from an app store. Personal assistants such as Amy, Niki.ai and Pana give business owners the opportunity to significantly improve the efficiency with which their companies are run.

However, most small businesses will be looking for specific tasks or processes within their business to add AI to. The number of businesses using AI bots has been growing rapidly, as they are quite easy to install and maintain.

There are many services that essentially allow you to build your own AI bot for specific purposes. Services such as Chatfuel, Converse and Zendesk are all designed to help businesses improve their customer service.

All these bot-creating services allow you to set them up to look for specific data patterns. For example, your business could create a bot to look for the most frequently asked questions about your business's services or products. This information is then fed to your R&D teams or a bot can be used within your Facebook pages to better match goods or services with specific groups of followers.

The AI in this example could do much more and then automatically ask other relevant questions as it interacts with your customer to gather even more information about their buying habits, opinions and how they feel about your business, and what it would like to see improved in your business – all of this without human intervention.

6. Beth fydd hanes AI yn y dyfodol?

There's little doubt that businesses large and small will have to use more AI in the future to remain competitive. As customer relationships intensify, customer service or sales teams made up entirely of people will not be able to understand or act on the torrent of data they collect. This is where AI thrives, as it's created to handle loads of data and help your business make sense of them.

The Economist's Intelligence Unit said: "If AI realises its potential in businesses within the next three to five years, there is little doubt that it will lead to significant improvements in processes, as well as accuracy and reliability, and potentially the speed of operational business decisions. AI is also more likely to improve security and improve risk management rather than weaken them, although some are concerned about potential misuse of AI systems."

Customers of your business will also become more aware of AI systems and more comfortable using them as they become part of their daily life. Mobile banking apps on smartphones, home automation systems like Alexa from Amazon, and smart assistants on phones and computer tablets like Siri from Apple, are already familiar systems. By being comfortable with AI systems, your business can innovate using AI features such as already familiar voice recognition software.

The AI system that is likely to have the biggest impact on your business in the short term is the one used with customer relationship management system. Larger businesses in particular need to be agile. The loads of data they collect about their customers can be difficult to analyze to ascertain value and meaning. AI systems are likely to become just as common as your calculation application.

Read how turning into a digital business helped Hazelwood Carpentry ensure their business survives into the future in the face of changing demands.

7. Eich rhestr wirio AI

With AI services growing rapidly, your business should carefully plan how it will use AI. Follow this checklist to ensure your business is making the most of its investment in AI:

1.    Cynlluniwch eich defnydd Plan your deployment

It is essential to have a clear plan that identifies how your business wants to use AI. The same close attention must be paid to the investment you make as you do in implementing any change to the systems of your business.

2. Can you act on the recommendations of the AI system?

If you plan to use an AI system to look for patterns in customer data for example, does your business have the additional processes to take advantage of that information when it is disclosed by the AI system?

3. Consider the impact on your staff

In some cases, an AI system can offer a level of automation that will require fewer staff for your business. What impact could this have on the spirit of the remaining workforce?

4. Are your logistical systems manageable?

An AI system is often deployed within sales teams. If there was a rapid increase in orders, would your business be able to cope?

5. When things go wrong

Completely automating your customer services may be your ultimate goal, but when queries arise that your AI system can't handle, your business will need staff who are people to help.

6. How will you build on your AI system?

Your AI system is a machine that learns. Ask yourself how you want your use of AI to develop in the future.

To experience how an AI system could be used in your business, systems like Amy's are a great place to start. You can see how AI operates and how much practical support they offer.

All businesses, no matter their size, will have to use some form of AI to ensure they stay efficient and profitable. Take your time to learn about AI and its potential before committing your business resources to these systems.