Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming organizations of all sizes and industries. As the capabilities of AI expand, small and mid-sized organizations and local governments are finding more ways to leverage these technologies to serve their customers and communities more efficiently.
While advanced AI applications like self-driving cars get all of the hype, plenty of practical AI tools are available now that can benefit your business and municipalities.
As a top Managed IT Service Provider in the Midwest for the past 25 years, we have witnessed many new technologies that have impacted our partners. But Artificial Intelligence is one of the biggest game changers we have seen.
Here are five top Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools that small to medium businesses and local governments should consider adopting.
1. AI Chatbots for Business and Resident Services
Not surprisingly, one of the most widely used AI applications is chatbots – software that can simulate human conversation through text or voice interactions.
They’re often used in customer service to handle routine inquiries, freeing human staff to focus on more complex issues. This can significantly improve efficiency and customer satisfaction, enhancing customer loyalty and potentially increasing revenue.
Not the Chatbots of old
Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence are much more advanced than rigid chatbots of the past that followed pre-programmed scripts.
Modern AI-enabled chatbots can understand complex language, personalize responses based on user history and data, and even improve themselves through machine learning.
Chatbots for SMBs and local governments present a huge opportunity to cut costs while improving constituent services.
According to research from Juniper, implementing chatbots can save over $8 billion annually in operational costs for municipalities. Chatbots can field common questions from citizens about services like garbage collection, business licensing, housing aid, and more.
This frees up human staff to handle higher-value inquiries.
Chatbots are highly scalable.
Chatbots can handle huge volumes of inquiries at low marginal costs. This makes them ideal for local governments that want to improve accessibility and responsiveness to citizens across channels like the web, social media, SMS, and voice assistants.
Leading chatbot platforms include:
- ChatGPT is a conversational AI chatbot created by OpenAI and launched in November 2022.
- It uses a large language model trained on massive datasets to have more generalized knowledge for conversing naturally.
- Users can ask ChatGPT complex questions and receive detailed written responses on various topics.
- While innovative, ChatGPT sometimes generates plausible but incorrect or nonsensical answers, requiring human review of its output.
- It represents a major advancement in conversational AI capabilities like answering follow-up questions and admitting ignorance.
- Chatfuel is a platform that allows anyone to build chatbots for Facebook Messenger without coding.
- It provides a graphical interface to set up conversational flows, messages, buttons, and integration with other apps.
- Chatfuel uses natural language processing and machine learning to understand text and process conversations.
- Chatbots built on Chatfuel can be used for marketing, lead generation, surveys, transactions, and customer support.
- It’s an easy way for businesses and governments to deploy AI-powered chatbots on social media channels.
Hubspot Chatbot Builder
- HubSpot offers a drag-and-drop tool to create chatbots for websites without coding via their marketing platform.
- Chatbots built with HubSpot can answer common questions, direct visitors, collect data, book meetings, and connect to live agents when needed.
- It leverages natural language processing and machine learning to understand and respond to diverse customer queries.
- Chatbots are optimized for search engine visibility and integrate with HubSpot’s CRM and email tools.
- HubSpot’s chatbot builder makes it easy for marketers to create automated conversational experiences quickly.
LiveChat is a customer service software platform that enables businesses to communicate with customers in real-time through live chat on their website or mobile app.
Here are some key things to know about LiveChat:
- It allows companies to embed a chat widget on their website or app so visitors can start a conversation with a live agent. This provides instant support and answers for customers.
- The platform uses AI to automatically route chats to the right agents based on language, location, traffic source, and other attributes. This helps match customers with the best agent for their needs.
- LiveChat offers chatbot integration powered by artificial intelligence, allowing basic questions to be answered automatically while routing more complex issues to human agents.
- It provides agent desktop apps for web, mobile, and Apple Watch, allowing representatives to manage chats from anywhere. Managers can monitor real-time chat metrics like wait times, volumes, sentiment, etc.
- The software includes ticketing, customer data management, and analytics capabilities to track customer profiles and issues over time.
- Claude is an AI assistant chatbot created by Anthropic, an AI safety startup. It was unveiled in 2022.
- It uses a conversational AI model called Constitutional AI to allow more harmless, honest, and helpful dialog than other chatbots.
- Claude can admit mistakes, refuse inappropriate requests, and challenge unreasonable user assumptions. This makes interactions more natural.
- It is currently offered as an invite-only beta product while Anthropic continues to refine the technology.
- Claude demonstrates the potential for AI assistants to be safer and aligned with human values, a key consideration as chatbots become more prevalent.
2. Automate Repetitive Tasks (Intelligent Process Automation)
Another common application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to automate repetitive administrative tasks to improve efficiency.
Intelligent process automation (IPA) combines robotic process automation (RPA) with AI capabilities like machine learning and natural language processing to create software “bots” that can mimic human actions.
IPA bots can interpret data from documents, emails, forms, and other unstructured sources. This allows the automation of more complex workflows beyond what can be achieved with simple if-then scripting.
For businesses and local governments, IPA can eliminate tedious data entry and processing across many departments:
- Human resources: onboarding, benefits management, leave requests
- Finance: invoice processing, budget management, auditing
- Community services: permit approvals, business license applications
- Customer support: information lookup, status checks
According to Deloitte, implementing automation with AI can reduce up to 90% of repetitive tasks, allowing staff to focus on higher-level analysis and decision-making. Small to midsized organizations can use IPA tools like Automation Anywhere, UiPath, and Microsoft Power Automate to start streamlining operations.
The costs of bot licenses and AI deployment are usually recovered within 6-9 months from the efficiency gains.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Driven CRM Systems
Customer relationship management (CRM) is crucial to any business, and AI can significantly enhance its effectiveness. Zoho CRM and HubSpot AI CRM are two platforms that leverage AI to provide SMBs and local governments with powerful customer management solutions.
Zoho CRM uses AI to analyze customer data and provide insights, helping businesses better understand their customers, predict future behavior, and personalize interactions.
Its AI assistant, Zia, can predict deal closures, analyze email sentiment, and suggest the best time to contact a customer. Zia can also automate routine tasks, allowing your team time to focus on more strategic work.
Zoho CRM is designed to be user-friendly and affordable, making it a great choice for your size organization.
HubSpot AI CRM
On the other hand, HubSpot AI CRM offers tools designed to help businesses attract, engage, and delight customers.
Its AI features include predictive lead scoring, which uses machine learning to predict which leads will most likely become customers. It also offers an AI-powered chatbot builder that can automate customer interactions, qualify leads, and book meetings, among other tasks.
HubSpot’s CRM platform is known for its intuitive interface and scalability, making it suitable for businesses of all sizes, including SMBs and local governments.
Zoho CRM and HubSpot AI CRM can be used to manage interactions with customers or constituents, helping to improve services and increase satisfaction. By predicting needs and personalizing interactions, these platforms can help organizations build stronger relationships and provide better services.
In an era where customer expectations are higher than ever, having a robust, Artificial Intelligence (A)-powered CRM system can give SMBs and local governments a competitive edge.
4. AI-Powered Cybersecurity Tools
In an era where cyber threats are increasingly sophisticated and common, cybersecurity is a major concern for any organization. AI can help to enhance security measures. Sophos and Huntress are two cybersecurity platforms that use AI to protect SMBs and local governments from cyber threats.
Sophos provides enterprise-grade security monitoring, detection, and response capabilities to small and mid-sized organizations that may not have the resources or expertise to manage security operations in-house.
- Its core offering is Intercept X: powered by deep learning. Intercept X uses deep learning, an advanced form of machine learning to detect both known and unknown malware without relying on signatures.
Deep learning makes Intercept X smarter, more scalable, and more effective against never-seen-before threats. Intercept X leverages deep learning to outperform endpoint security solutions that use traditional machine learning or signature-based detection alone.
- Some of the key capabilities of Intercept X include endpoint detection, extended detection, and response (XDR), Anti-ransomware, exploit prevention, managed detection, and response (MDR), and Zero Trust Access.
- Sophos is trusted by over 550,000 customers worldwide and tops the list of leading analysts’ reports for it open platform and AI-powered threat prevention, detection, and response capabilities.
Huntress is a cybersecurity company focused on providing managed detection and response (MDR) services for small and medium-sized organizations and local governments.
Their platform aims to help you monitor for and rapidly respond to security threats across their organizations’ networks and endpoints.
- Endpoint Monitoring & Response – Huntress agents monitor activity on endpoints to detect behavioral anomalies, suspicious processes, and signs of compromise. Automated response capabilities can quickly isolate infected systems.
- Network Defense – Network traffic analysis examines connections and payloads to uncover threats like malware command and control activity.
- 24/7 Security Team – SMBs gain access to Huntress’s security operations center staffed by cybersecurity experts for continuous threat hunting and response.
- Compliance Assistance – Huntress helps SMBs prepare for compliance with regulations like HIPAA and PCI with reports, policy review, and penetration testing.
- Dark Web Monitoring – Huntress scans underground sites and forums to proactively identify compromised credentials and other risks relevant to their customers.
Huntress provides managed detection and response tailored to SMBs, combining endpoint and network monitoring, expert human threat hunters, and tools to enable rapid investigation and response.
5. For Market Research and Communications
ChatGPT and Claude represent major advancements in artificial intelligence that open new market research and communication possibilities.
Both chatbots leverage large language models to understand natural language prompts and generate human-like responses. This makes them incredibly useful tools for gathering insights, interfacing with customers, and creating marketing content.
Whereas most chatbots rely on simple pattern matching to provide canned responses, ChatGPT and Claude can engage in thoughtful discussions and provide nuanced answers to questions.
Their advanced language capabilities allow for more contextual, conversational interactions when doing market research surveys and polls. Users can have a back-and-forth with the AI to extract deeper insights and clarity.
ChatGPT and Claude can translate high-level instructions into long-form content on the communication front. This includes drafting emails, social media posts, FAQs, and other materials that effectively conveying an intended message. The AI can quickly generate and iterate content variations to fit different mediums and audiences.
Benefits of ChatGPT:
- Very fast at generating long, high-quality content from prompts.
- Strong knowledge of a wide range of topics and current events.
- Excellent natural language processing for survey and interview responses.
Benefits of Claude:
- More advanced reasoning and common-sense capabilities.
- Checks responses for inaccuracies and misinformation
- Built to have an honest, helpful demeanor for research.
- Can learn user preferences and improve over time.
These AI systems’ conversational and creative abilities make them versatile tools for marketers and researchers looking to streamline work and gain insights.
Their ability to communicate like humans can lead to more meaningful exchanges, whether doing outreach or developing content.
Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming organizations of all sizes. While large enterprises often grab the headlines, AI innovations impact small and mid-sized businesses and local governments.
From chatbots to process automation to cybersecurity, AI tools are available that can improve efficiency, lower costs, and enhance services.
By automating repetitive tasks, AI lets staff focus on higher-value work. AI-powered customer service chatbots can field routine inquiries around the clock, improving responsiveness.
Intelligent recruiting platforms help source and evaluate job candidates more effectively. And AI is enabling data-driven decision-making across departments.
While integrating new technologies presents challenges, the potential benefits make AI adoption worthwhile. Thoughtful implementation combined with staff training and engagement is key.
Partnering with experienced managed service providers like Imagine IT can help overcome technical hurdles.
The AI revolution is here to stay. Organizations that embrace AI early will have tremendous opportunities to better serve their customers, communities, and employees.
With prudent planning, companies without massive IT budgets can leverage AI and gain a competitive edge. The time for small and mid-sized businesses and local governments to adopt AI is now.
Using AI tools, or any technology is critical to your organizations future and growth. If you are looking to make a IT provider switch, or even just kicking the tires, please reach out and let’s talk have a conversation>
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