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5 Ways Machine Learning is Changing Business


Artificial intelligence feels like the buzzword(s) of 2018. You hear it mentioned more and more often and while it varies in complexity and scope, its effect is being felt in almost every major industry. Here are some of the areas where it’s having a big impact:

1.Bookkeeping

A 2014 TD Bank Survey[1] (2014) found (from polling over 500 businesses) that around half of business owners find bookkeeping to be their least favorite task. No surprise there! Bookkeeping is tedious work and requires business owners to keep detailed records of transactions and constantly reconcile them.

Fortunately, machine learning is changing the game, turning a headache into an automated process. Companies like KPMG are (and have) developed software using algorithms that can understand user behavior and auto-categorize transactions. One might be quick to assume these applications come as a direct threat to CPAs and accounting practices. But that isn’t necessarily true. CPAs are also starting to adopt this software, realizing that it saves them resources and allows them to focus on higher level accounting, and customer service.

2. Forecasting

Predictive analytic tools have largely been thought to be something used only by large corporations. However, with the rise of affordable services and cloud based software, predictive tools might be useful for small business[2]:

“…many small businesses do not have the budget to allocate to high-paying data science positions, and will instead need to rely on easier to use tools for existing staff in marketing, IT, and management. Another IDC trend that seems to bode well for SMBs is the trend towards cloud-based solutions. IDC predicts that cloud-based big data and analytics solutions will grow three times faster than their on-premise counterparts – likely lightening the load on SMBs IT staff, and on company budget.”

3. Taxes

A.I. is speeding up the process by which firms like KPMG deal with taxes. KPMG currently leverages the power of IBM Watson to assist companies in potentially obtaining potential research and development tax credits.

“The government stands to give back $148 billion in the next 10 years, but getting those rewards isn’t easy. It’s hard to build up detailed evidence to qualify,” said Brad Brown, Chief Innovation Officer, Tax, KPMG LLP.

Research and development credits are likely just the beginning, as there are so many more areas of tax which can be improved with the power of machine learning. Not only that, professionals seem energized by the idea—according to a survey conducted during a KPMG webcast, “30% of participants are planning to implement intelligent automation to their tax function this year” (2018).

4. Marketing

From content optimization (think a movie streaming service’s “suggested for you” queue), to improving the customer experience, machine learning is digging its claws into marketing and it’s only the beginning. Louis Columbus[3] puts forward these facts:

“84% of marketing organizations are implementing or expanding AI and machine learning in 2018.”

“75% of enterprises using AI and machine learning enhance customer satisfaction by more than 10%.”

“3 in 4 organizations implementing A.I. and machine learning increase sales of new products and services by more than 10% according to Capgemini."

Potential Marketing Areas of Influence:

  • Funnel Optimization

  • Sentiment Tracking

  • Real-Time Pricing Structures

  • Personalized Messaging

  • Ad Delivery

  • Timing Optimization

  • Lead Generation

  • Customer Support

  • Timing Optimization

  • Product Demand Prediction

  • Interpreting Internal Data

  • Scoring and Rating

  • Customer Experience

5. Communication

Chatbots, “smart” emails, and personalized/predictive messaging are changing the way small businesses communicate internally and with potential clients. The difficulty in the past has been creating applications that communicate naturally, developers are aware of this and are actively working to improve it.

Snapshot of the A.I. Messaging Landscape:

  • Social Media

  • Chat Apps

  • Language/Translation Apps

  • E-Commerce

  • Communicable Hardware

The A.I. effect has traditionally is traditionally attributed to large corporations but that’s no longer true. A.I. is influencing both the small business owner and the Fortune 500 company. We’re just scratching the surface at this point but its capabilities are already tangible and are helping make processes more efficient from marketing to bookkeeping.

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Austin Miller is head of Content Marketing at Bookly. Bookly is a KPMG LLP Small Business Service that provides you with a dedicated online bookkeeper and an easy to read dashboard that displays your financials in real-time. When he’s not at the office, Austin is either eating, thinking or writing about food.

[1] “What’s the one Task Most Small-Business Owners Loathe.”.www.entrepreneuer.com. Faggella, Daniel. January 28, 2015.

[2] “The State of Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics for Small Business.” www.techemergence.com. Faggella, Daniel. June 1, 2018.

[3] “10 Ways Machine Learning is Revolutionizing Marketing” www.forbes.com. Columbus, Louis. Feb. 25, 2018.

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