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Five Cost-Effective Ways for Startups to Use AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a futuristic concept reserved for space stations and prestigious corporations; it’s now making significant waves in how businesses operate. For startups, the integration of AI can be an absolute game-changer, providing cost-effective solutions to boost growth. But what is on offer, and how do you decide which AI-powered applications are worth investing in?

Here, we take a look at some of the best ways startups can begin to make use of this innovative technology.

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Use cloud-based AI services

AI is leveling the playing field for startups, enabling them to access tools that can help them to compete with larger organizations without spending buckets of money. You may think of cloud-based services as just additional storage space, but these mighty tools can also fuel revolutionary AI service models. These provide accessible, scalable and affordable solutions for startups and businesses – without the need for significant upfront investments in hardware.

By using AI to automate tasks, you reduce reliance on manual labor and supercharge productivity. Plus, there’s room not only for significant cost savings but also time and resource savings, too. From virtual assistants to computer vision, leaning on these service providers will allow you to utilize powerful tools without significant upfront costs or investments – helping to push your business forward without breaking the bank. 

These cloud-based tools allow startups access to tried and tested algorithms that can perform Natural Language Processing (NLP) services to power chatbots, virtual assistants and text analysis in multiple languages. They also include computer vision services for image detection and object recognition, and model-training capabilities, which we will explore below.

Consider open-source AI frameworks

Sometimes referred to as pre-trained AI models, machine learning frameworks are the heart of business-boosting AI programmes. This is essentially the process of teaching intelligent software to recognize patterns and make predictions based on historical data. However, building a reliable AI programme requires billions of data entries, as the more information you can feed it, the more accurately it can interpret the data. 

Whilst companies have traditionally turned to AI service providers for access to this potent tool, open-source AI frameworks are now being created with the intention of boosting transparency and accessibility for users with less deep pockets. As a result, several open-source frameworks have been released, posing as a cost-effective alternative to proprietary solutions for the savvy startup owner. 

These frameworks provide a foundation for building custom AI models and applications, which you can tailor to your own specific needs – so you can access dynamic AI software without the hefty price tag of proprietary software. However, it’s worth noting the challenges that come with attempting to tailor your own AI software, even if the basic foundation has been built for you. In-house knowledge of advanced coding and development remains essential, as you will have to train and manage the AI model to ensure its reliability – and you’ll also need to consider the upkeep costs associated with running the software.

Tap into predictive analytics

Tapping into AI can have a huge impact on your marketing and sales efforts, helping you to easily see whether or not your strategies are effective and cost-efficient. With the potential to understand vast quantities of data in a shockingly short time span, these AI models can provide real-time insights into how and why your efforts are or aren’t working. 

Utilizing pre-trained AI models to process your internal data will save the vast amounts of time and resources required to develop and train an AI model from scratch. Such software can help startups optimize supply chain management, inventory control, and production processes by highlighting patterns and trends in data. 

For example, AI-driven predictive analytics can help in demand forecasting, thus ensuring efficient inventory management. It can also help predict when machinery or equipment will need to be replaced or require maintenance, acting as a proactive preventative measure as opposed to having to rely on reactive maintenance.

Focus on high-impact applications

Even with these cost-effective ways to implement AI into your startup, doing so is still an investment. To ensure you only spend what you need to, focus only on the aspects which will benefit the most from such an investment, rather than attempting to integrate AI across all processes of your business. 

Before taking the leap, spend some time identifying and prioritizing where tangible benefits could be brought about by AI-powered tools. Do you spend hours responding to clients, where you want to be delivering a service or working on other areas of the business? Or, are you struggling to keep up with marketing efforts or your inventory management? Considering where you lose a lot of time is one of the best ways to determine which type of AI would be best for you. It’s also well worth reading up on how other businesses have integrated AI so that you can learn from their mistakes and successes and feel more confident in your decision on how to use AI yourself.

Collaborate and network

Networking is greatly beneficial for startup business owners and entrepreneurs. Meeting with other business-minded individuals can bring opportunities for collaboration, partnerships and joint ventures – and it could also help you begin implementing AI cost-effectively. 

Getting to know other business owners, developers and AI experts may result in you gaining access to AI-driven tools and software or finding innovative ways to start utilizing these technologies. Networking can help open doors to valuable contacts, resources and expertise to help boost the growth of your startup without breaking the bank.

Use AI to fuel your growth

Using AI within your startup doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. You can affordably harness the power of AI by beginning with cloud-based AI services and considering investing in some open-source frameworks and pre-trained models. Used strategically, AI can save you both time and money, whilst boosting productivity and efficiency.

These futuristic tools are readily available as cost-effective solutions and can help startups begin to compete with larger organizations. With the potential to boost marketing and sales efforts, enhance customer connections and optimize supply chain and inventory control, it could be high time for your startup to start embracing AI.

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About the author

Kathleen White

Kathleen White works as an independent business analyst for several small businesses. She completed her degree in Business and Management at the University of Bristol, achieving a First-Class Honours. She enjoys writing in her spare time to share what she has learned, in hopes of benefiting other businesses.

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