I had the opportunity to attend a sharing session on Industry 4.0 and Services 4.0 last Wednesday (14 March 2019), talking about the impact Artificial Intelligence (AI) will bring to our country and the various industries. Many thought leaders shared their views, including Minister, Mr Ng Chee Meng, Senior Minister of State, Dr Koh Poh Koon, and CEOs from SATS, Mediacorp, IMDA and IBM.
These are my thoughts on this session, and I will focus on how SMEs like us can face this next wave of technologies.
The objective is how to use AI to improve company performance. It is typically measured by top-line (sales revenue) and bottom-line (cost control) performance.
SMEs are naturally strong in cost control so if there is an area to start using AI, it should be in how to use AI to increase sales revenue. For example, if we build a database of all purchase orders, we can now see customer’s buying patterns. If we cross reference this to for instance, our selling price, we can see how price sensitive our customers are. If we cross reference this to time of the year, we might also find seasonal buying patterns.
Another example is digitizing sales activities. We can track leads that come from every roadshow, seminar or exhibition, all the way till a deal closure. In the long run, with enough data, we will know the returns on investment for every marketing dollar we spend, and what time of activity is the most effective.