Brianna White

Staff member
Jul 30, 2019
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Marketing experts Ming-Hui Huang and Roland Rust wrote an influential article titled “Artificial Intelligence in Service” in which they theorized that there are four types of intelligences needed to perform service tasks: mechanical, analytical, intuitive, and empathetic. A key point made associated with the theory was that to perform some more advanced service tasks, artificial intelligence applications need to be able to move beyond just being mechanical and analytical to develop capacities that require intuition and empathy—and that type of intelligence needed should play a role in allocating tasks between machines/AI technology and human labor. As most of us who have dealt with chatbots for a customer service issue know, human intuition and empathy are more difficult to emulate via AI, leading this theory to make a great deal of sense.

It can be argued that Huang and Rust’s theory applies to marketing tasks beyond customer service. For example, in advertising, Amazon and Google have been masters of good targeting via effective mechanical and analytical intelligence, and AI has helped social media ad targeting immensely. Yet, applications that are more intuitive and empathetic can lead to new territory that may result in better customer response to ads by responding to emotions they are experiencing or intuitive patterns related to purchase behavior appear hold potential.

While time will tell the degree of AI advancement in the “feeling” realm and related functions, there is little question that more AI applications ere being effectively employed by many businesses, including small businesses. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the 33.5 million small businesses in the U.S., defined as those having 500 or less employees, represent 99.9% of all businesses and account for 4 % of employment and 43.5% of GDP. Thus, it is important to examine whether small businesses are making effective use of AI.

A survey of uses of AI by small business conducted by Constant Contact, a small business-focused digital marketing and automation firm, in conjunction with market research firm Ascend2, clearly documents that AI is not just for large businesses anymore. Results, reported in the company’s Small Business Now report show that 91% of small businesses who are using AI indicate that it has made their business more successful. Moreover, the study finds a strong correlation between a small company using AI and its overall success.

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