Artificial intelligence – or AI – has been quite the buzzword lately.
With the amount of coverage AI gets, it can be hard to understand the most significant opportunities for startups to leverage this new mountain of capabilities to improve business efficiency.
Based on my expertise in various aspects of AI, I’ve gathered a few thoughts on key considerations, some mistakes to avoid, and a few recommendations for getting started.
AI is, after all, a real game-changing technology that’s been around a while but just recently reminded us of its insanely disruptive – and, according to the late physicist extraordinaire Stephen Hawking, potentially destructive – power.
And yes, AI does deserve its day in the sun. The hype is definitely warranted, and the potential is there.
KPMG stated that 92% of C-suite executives who have implemented AI in their workplace believe in its potential to optimize their organization and help it add greater value across every key performance indicator.
Accessibility to AI: The Real Game Changer
AI has been around for decades. But we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of AI.
Nowadays, ChatGPT is taking the world by storm, and a bevy of AI-enabled competitors are appearing out of the ether, using the technology and above all, experiencing it first-hand.
You don’t need coding knowledge or a doctorate to use AI tools. In fact, it’s so easy even a Luddite could use it.
Now, Google, Bing, Elon Musk – and surprise, surprise, Mark Zuckerberg – are all putting their eggs in the AI basket.
Combine AI with no-code and SaaS – which are no exceptions to this emerging trend – and we will all understand why Google head honcho Sundar Pichai believes that the rise of these new technologies could be “more profound than electricity or fire.”
Let’s explore how companies can leverage the intersection between AI and SaaS – and see how they are cheat codes for the startup/bootstrapping/entrepreneurship hustle with how they can create powerful human-computer integrations and scale companies of all sizes, types, and persuasions.
At no other point in time have we seen this technology accessible for every business to optimize their efficiencies and come out on the right side of the AI paradigm shift – regardless of the macroeconomic headwinds.
Automate Or Get Left Behind
Often, every time a business requires a custom-coded, tailor-made solution, they run into scaling problems. Tech stacks are evolving at the speed of sound, and proficient, adroit programmers are worth their weight in gold. Ever seen those ridiculous hourly rates?
Meanwhile, if you’re a solopreneur, a small startup, or just an average Joe trying to monetize the AI wave, you probably wouldn’t want to cough up $300 per hour to hire a programmer or fall for the learn2code meme and spend time, effort, and money learning an entirely new skillset well enough to monetize it.
You can even build a no-code AI SaaS for less than $100 using the existing tools we have right now.
There’s also no excuse not to. No-code AI solutions are now within everyone’s grasp and seriously gaining enough traction for democratized mass utility. Take the case of GPT-3 by OpenAI, which captured mainstream imagination shortly after its November 2022 launch.
But it won’t end there – Microsoft and Google are investing heavily in AI to give OpenAI a run for its money. The clarion call is out there for businesses to automate, or else face no chance to survive – much less thrive – in the volatile economic situation.
The message is clear: AI-enabled automation is coming across every vertical and industry – and the onus is on everyone to adapt, automate, or get left behind.
Building Startups Is Getting Tougher
2023 is well underway, and the competition is tooth and nail between startups to stay ahead of the curve. Businesses are spending hundreds of billions on AI, and that demand will only rise in the coming years.
The gap is constantly widening between companies investing in their future with AI and those that aren’t – and the digital transformation brought on by the creative destruction and cutthroat competition between companies will inevitably cause a seismic economic paradigm shift the world over as the world economy scratches the potential of AI.
And that possibility is within reach of everyone, including small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, to create solutions, products, and services without prior programming knowledge. The tools are here, and the tools are now.
The Significance of AI and Automation
We can’t underestimate the significance of AI and automation and how it’s democratizing opportunities and the power of these new technologies across fields – including SaaS – and making them accessible to wider audiences.
They empower a wide spectrum of users to achieve their personal and professional goals and solve problems.
For instance, no-code development platforms leveraging AI enable businesses to create drag-and-drop tools to build software solutions fast without the requisite coding know-how – and financial outlay – that it would have once taken.
The same technology enables individuals to use AI to create content, code, translate, and process data and drive digital transformation in their databases.
In the case of no-code development platforms, they enable developers and non-developers to get products straight to market in record time, shortening the bootstrap process so they can build fast and break fast and ultimately create fully functional solutions without coding knowledge as a hard prerequisite (but a definite plus).
No SaaS, No Progress
How does that tie in with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)?
SaaS is generally a licensed software delivery model wherein apps are hosted on external servers through a cloud service provider or web-based software. They provide software to their end-users over the World Wide Web infrastructure, hosted, managed, and maintained on servers.
60% of American businesses use SaaS to save them upfront software and hardware installation costs – resulting in tremendous cost savings as opposed to the traditional on-premise setup.
Ultimately, SaaS enables small to medium-sized businesses to gain access to high-performance software solutions on-demand at significantly lower costs.
Not surprisingly, SaaS platforms have become part and parcel of every company’s digitalization process – and now that access to said platforms is within reach of everyone, there’s no reason not to.
No SaaS in 2023? No progress.
Leveraging SaaS AI Platforms to Maximize Business Efficiency
SaaS is beginning to embrace the inexorable march towards AI and machine learning – just when mainstream and investor interest is beginning to stir.
And since SaaS solutions already play a vital role in creating synergies, boosting scalability and efficiency, and automating rote, tedious operations to give users and customers alike a more bespoke, personalized experience, AI and ML are fast shaping up as the next frontier of the technology that will take business efficiency to the next level.
Marketing automation, customer relationship management, and time-to-market stand to gain immensely.
Because they may increase efficiency, automate tedious operations, and give clients valuable insights, AI and ML are becoming increasingly crucial for SaaS organizations.
Several elements of SaaS businesses, including customer relationship management, marketing automation, product development, and personalization, can benefit from AI and ML.
AI is already delivering higher-quality and more accurate results than ever – with AI-powered chatbots saving banking and financial services companies money that otherwise would have sank to another cost center.
Upfront costs notwithstanding, AI has immense potential to realize across-the-board cost savings to go with disruption, scalability, and adaptability in the face of a rapidly changing market dynamic.
No-code AI SaaS solutions, products, and services can be rolled out in a drag-and-drop fashion on-demand – making it the absolute bleeding edge of innovation in the coming years.
And we’ve barely scratched the tip of the iceberg.
Paid Media Through AI to Maximize Marketing Effectiveness
My teams have leveraged AI to increase the efficiency of our ads over the past several years. Ads platforms incorporate machine learning and AI directly into their own bid management systems, but there are limitations to optimizing media across ad networks.
My team also blends multiple goals that aren’t always as effective to manage directly through ad platforms.
That’s why I’ve leaned into finding the right partner and AI solution for ads. One of my favorites has been AI ads management delivered through Tailwind. I have used their functionality for years through an enterprise solution that they acquired; they’re now bringing that same capability to life for businesses of all sizes.
I’m excited to use their new AI ad creation in an upcoming beta. They also offer AI content generation focused on small business marketing and directly incorporated into workflows through Tailwind’s Ghostwriter.
How Tailwind’s Ghostwriter Can Help Businesses
Ghostwriter, an AI-powered writing assistant, is a prime example of an AI SaaS solution that can help small and medium businesses thrive in this rapidly evolving market.
By simplifying and streamlining the content creation process, Ghostwriter offers several benefits:
- Cost Savings and Efficiency: Ghostwriter saves businesses time and resources by automating content generation, allowing them to focus on other critical tasks and reduce overhead costs.
- Consistency and Engagement: This AI tool helps businesses maintain a cohesive brand image and create captivating content that resonates with their target audience, leading to higher engagement and better conversion rates.
- Improved SEO: Ghostwriter aids in optimizing content for search engines by suggesting relevant keywords, phrases, and ideal content structures to boost search engine rankings.
- Scaling Content Production: As businesses grow, Ghostwriter enables them to scale their content production without additional staff, generating a wide range of content types to meet their demands effectively.
- Enhanced Creativity and Innovation: By leveraging AI-generated suggestions, businesses can break through writer’s block, gain fresh perspectives, and develop innovative content ideas to set them apart from their competitors.
- Streamlined Collaboration: Ghostwriter facilitates collaboration between team members by providing a centralized platform for content creation, review, and editing, ensuring smooth workflows and consistency.
Most importantly, Tailwind’s Ghostwriter is a specialized “AIaaS.” Sure, general AI platforms can do various tasks very well, but a specialized AI SaaS can do a particular one much better.
In the case of Ghostwriter – it is copywriting.
But with so many market options, how do you pick the best one for your business?
Choosing An AI SaaS Platform
Choosing an AI-enabled SaaS platform to streamline your business is no laughing matter. Let’s look at what factors to consider, steps to take, and mistakes to avoid when choosing one that suits your business requirements.
Factors to Consider
Plenty of AI SaaS platforms are worth giving a shot – but not all of them are created equal. Needless to say, there are certain factors you need to consider before choosing, buying, and implementing an AI SaaS platform for your business.
- First is scalability. As your business grows, so do your user numbers and the volume of data you’re working with. You’ll want to ensure 24/7 availability with zero backlog so your platform isn’t prone to latency or failure.
- Next, ease of integration. Depending on your organization’s requirements, you’ll want a certain depth of integration with your company’s existing infrastructure, apps, services, and data. Integrations can be complex, and you’ll want your solution to be as easy to integrate with your setup.
- How customizable is your SaaS? Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, you might not get the optimal results with what you buy. Therefore, it’s important to choose one with the functionality, performance, and integrations you need – and only the bells and whistles you need.
- Lastly, price. Startups, bootstrappers, and solopreneurs might not require the most expensive solution for their requirements – while other larger businesses might require an enterprise-ready service. Therefore, you’ll want to choose one that provides good value for money and the goals you wish to achieve by using it.
Before making that commitment, here are the steps you need to take to determine what platform will work for you.
Steps to Take
Before choosing an AI SaaS platform provider, you must have a clear picture of exactly what your business needs and that the platform itself aligns with your goals. Check that their features and tools are ones that you will actually use and that the pricing model makes sense for your budgetary requirements.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few options and alternatives, determine how financially feasible it is. Make sure you get the best deal before you commit, and do your due diligence in searching and comparing the variety of AI SaaS platforms at your perusal.
Many AI SaaS platforms worth their salt will offer free demo and trial versions before you commit to a longer deal that may be trickier to get out of.
Mistakes to Avoid
Likewise, there will be pitfalls when using an AI SaaS platform and separating marketing from reality. Here are some common mistakes business owners and decision-makers often commit when choosing one:
- Committing too fast, too soon. Don’t be pressured into committing, no matter how enticing their packages might be. A good deal today is a good deal tomorrow – and it often pays to stay the course, evaluate the platform thoroughly, and complete the assessment process before committing. Check out that there aren’t unnecessary features or longer lock-ins than you actually need.
- Don’t subscribe to any plans that you haven’t tested. There’s no reason not to test out your prospective platforms. Many of them offer sandbox environments to test on before you implement. Doing so will ensure that the SaaS platform gives you the features and benefits that you actually need. Likewise, you’ll want to ensure you aren’t overpaying for a premium solution when everything you need is available with a downmarket or even free option.
- Setting and forgetting. Getting an AI SaaS platform isn’t a one-off job you set and forget. It’s more like tending a garden in that you need to stay on top of things and ensure that every part of your garden is well-tended – meaning you need to monitor your performance and efforts. Analyze what else can be improved, measure everything with data, and see that they align with your key performance indicators.
- No SOPs or team onboarding. You can have the latest AI SaaS solution for your business with all the premium features, but it won’t mean squat unless your team adopts it and uses it in their day-to-day tasks. Granted, it’s never easy to get team members to use new technologies without a bit of nudging – but that’s the only way you’ll get ROI using these new technologies is by gaining company-wide buy-in. The same applies to establishing standard operating procedures and a playbook including best practices.
- Rush into the final pick. When renewing contracts or purchasing a service, it’s often tempting to take the first supplier’s offer after their first wine-and-dine salvo. But as the old saying goes, haste makes waste – and rushing into your final decision is a sure way to get screwed on the pricing. Try out at least several suppliers and receive bids before making the final decision. You won’t lose anything with an abundance of caution before committing. This will help you avoid overpaying for features or add-ons you don’t actually need.
Making It All Work Together
Now, it’s time to put it all together – what are the best practices that will ensure the success of your AI SaaS platform implementation? Here are three tips.
Where Can AI and Automation Be Applied?
The real challenge is figuring out how and where you can get AI SaaS to help you achieve your immediate goals. It’s important to remember that while AI SaaS platforms reduce workload in many departments, it isn’t a silver bullet that anyone and everyone should use.
Ask yourself the following questions as a business or process owner directly involved with the decision:
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- How much project management will this require?
- How does the platform fit within the context of the enterprise architecture?
- Is the platform sufficient to solve the problem?
- Is the platform a strategic choice that will drive long-term value?
Develop a Strategy and Stick to It
Define a strategy and a road map as to how to achieve it. Set out the concrete steps you must take to seamlessly integrate AI into your business, and include milestones and key performance indicators and a timeline for when they must be completed.
But also remember to introduce changes gradually and conduct continuous user acceptance testing. This will help you detect and nip problems in the bud before upscaling.
Create a Culture of Innovation and Learning
Once you’ve implemented your desired solution, constantly iterate and innovate, and inculcate that culture to ensure your business remains at the forefront of changes.
Doing so will help you identify and create solutions for areas that require improvements while ensuring they remain aligned with company goals.
Constantly test and break models – remember that AI learns best when you interact with it often, so it’s paramount to continue testing to keep it performing at its best. Keeping a learner’s mindset is par for the course.
Address Common Objections and Concerns
It’s easy to feel apprehensive about the fear that AI will soon supersede us in our jobs and make us all redundant – what with KPMG suggesting that as much as 20% of jobs in the fintech sector are potentially set to be replaced by AI in the coming years?
But the fears are vastly exaggerated, and the supposedly damning statistics are skewed to paint a misleading picture.
See, it all boils down to how you plan to implement the platform in question – if you want it to automate low-hanging fruit, that’s what it will do. If you want to use it as a multi-purpose tool in your arsenal, that’s what it will be.
Here’s how to address the most common objections and concerns about implementing AI in your organization.
Education and Training
With AI’s advancements, users must stay on top of emerging trends and technology updates. That’s achievable by fostering continuing education, training, and upskilling initiatives. Bootcamps, online courses, and specialized classes all work to overcome the knowledge gap inherent in adopting new technologies.
AI won’t work in a vacuum – and these solutions work best when they leverage human and machine strengths. That’s because AI doesn’t excel in tasks requiring creativity and critical thinking. When employees gain relevant experience in collaborative decision-making, problem-solving, and communication, they stay relevant within the context of the changes that AI will bring.
Communication and Transparency
Many myths about how AI will replace employees are largely unfounded or exaggerated – and many of those fears can be assuaged by constant communication and transparency. AI is ultimately a tool and not the process itself.
It’s important to communicate the whys and hows of AI in your organization stay transparent about its use – and emphasize its role in helping them execute complex tasks with pinpoint accuracy rather than sitting around wasting time with manual processes.
Artificial intelligence will disrupt the modern business landscape across every industry – including SaaS.
When SaaS is combined with the immense potential of AI, it gives businesses the potential to extract the most value out of their investment by gaining deeper, value-added insights from their data, automating and personalizing products, solutions, and services, and supercharging human capacity to unheard of.
Big and small players across industries are moving into this space quickly, and industry observers predict exponential growth in the coming years.
With AI and no-code, SaaS will undergo the same revolution that changed eCommerce into a global juggernaut – in the sense that it is something that literally anyone can do. In particular, solo bootstrappers or business owners with a modicum of technical background can utilize them to get their ideas to market faster.
The number of no-code AI SaaS tools that are out right now – and those that will surely be on their way this year – will be overwhelming. Are you ready for it?
This article first appeared on HACKERNOON.