Posted: Tue 25th Jul 2023
As with many new technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) is often seen as an innovation that's out of reach for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – and instead used only by big enterprises with large pockets.
However, as Dropbox knows only too well, the democratising power of cloud computing means that businesses of any size can begin to wield AI. In fact, not only do SMEs have the ability to access the same tech-driven opportunities, they also potentially have even more of an incentive to leverage the ever-growing range of AI tools.
In large organisations, employees often have a defined role – clear responsibilities, lines of reporting, and boundaries they won't cross. But for SMEs, things tend to be the total opposite. People can find their roles constantly changing as they balance leadership and delivery across several areas of business.
While this can be an exhilarating and freeing way to work, it can also leave SMEs with little time to learn about new ways of working and tools that could support productivity in the long run. AI is uniquely placed to change this.
Automating the mundane and freeing your time
One of the great benefits of AI is its ability to automate mundane and time-consuming tasks. For the time-poor SME owner, this is gold dust, as it frees up time for more strategic and impactful work.
For example, much like a digital assistant, AI can help you develop your marketing or sales outreach by generating personalised emails to specific industries or roles. It can automatically record and highlight key actions from sales calls, and it can seamlessly sort and file documents based on how you typically organise your content.
These otherwise time-consuming tasks can keep SMEs bogged down in the weeds of process and admin, draining not just their time but their minds too.
That's why, at Dropbox, we're huge believers in the transformative power of AI for SMEs. In fact, we've long been incorporating it into our products, with features that enable you to turn an off-kilter smartphone photo of a document into a perfect PDF. On top of that, there are options that automatically remove "ums" and "likes" from your Dropbox Capture screen recordings.
All these features help our customers to save time and work more effectively – and we're committed to building AI-powered products that address our customers' biggest pain points. As such, we've also recently launched our first AI-powered universal search tool, Dropbox Dash.
By connecting all your tools, files and apps in one single search bar, Dropbox Dash supercharges the ability to find, organise and work on content. This is where the power of AI can bring huge value – not just in saving you hours on a single task a week, but seconds in every action you take throughout your working day.
We believe that AI-powered universal search will be key to unlocking a new era of organisation and productivity. SMEs that use this technology to work both faster and smarter will find themselves at a competitive advantage – even over larger and better-resourced organisations.
Keeping an open mind on the power of AI
Embracing AI isn't just about ticking a box and using the latest new tool. As with any new way of doing things, it's about the impact it can have on the business.
So, when it comes to AI, you must keep an open mind and consider the real potential for your business. In turn, you need to seek out AI solutions that solve real and tangible pain points.
This means thinking strategically and asking big questions, such as the following:
How can this improve productivity?
How can this save me time?
How can this get me closer to my customers?
How can this help me outmanoeuvre my competitors?
How can this help me drive efficiencies?
These questions will continue to change as the technology advances. And in this new age of AI, businesses of all sizes need to be aware of its constantly evolving potential.
Of course, some businesses will be considering how to create AI tools for SMEs. For these companies, it's critical that they maintain focus on addressing the specific challenges that these small and medium-sized businesses face.
Personalisation is also key. For SMEs to unlock the full potential of AI, they need access to AI that's fully tailored to them, their stuff and their company – and they need tools that they can interact with using natural language.
The opportunity starts today
There's no doubt that the future will see AI more embedded into every aspect of our lives, and we're just scratching the surface when it comes to the impact AI can have on business.
Make no mistake, however: the opportunity for SMEs to embrace AI is here. Simplifying workflows, boosting productivity, and freeing up time are just some of the benefits that are on offer right now.
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