Sun | Jun 13, 2021

ADVERTORIAL | MSMEs urged to embrace AI and data analytics to grow their businesses

Published:Friday | May 14, 2021 | 10:10 AM
Kimberly Atkinson
Kimberly Atkinson


Members of the micro, small and medium enterprises are being urged to embrace technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and automation to improve customer service and take their businesses to the next level.

Miss Rushel Phipps, research analyst with MC Systems, technology company of the JN Group said MSMEs could achieve exponential growth if they used technology to transform their businesses. She affirmed that digital transformation need not be costly, adding that it would not only aid in customer retention, but also improve efficiency and enable better management.

“Digital transformation is important because it brings competitive offerings, and of course, you will ultimately increase your revenues from all of this,” Miss Phipps affirmed. “It's where the competition is. Digital is where your customers are.”

Miss Phipps was a presenter at the JN Small Business Loans Monthly Client Webinar on April 22 which was aired via the Zoom platform. The webinar was mounted under the theme: ‘Small Businesses Go Digital’. The webinar was held in collaboration with MC Systems and the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.

The business analyst emphasized that while the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’ conjured up feelings of reservation among MSMEs, it was not to be feared, but embraced for its ability to improve customer experiences.

“Artificial intelligence is as simple as the bot that talks to you when you go on to an online platform and something pops up to say ‘hi how can I assist you today?,” she revealed.

“Artificial Intelligence gives you real time customer support as opposed to having a number of customers coming in with queries and you are unable to respond to them timely. As you are all aware, time has a lot to do with whether your customers stay with you and do business or go on to the competitor. Therefore, technology such as AI will help to give you the edge over your competition.”

The MCS analyst explained that data analytics should also be embraced because it provided valuable insights into customer habits and could be inexpensive.

“Data analytics is simple to obtain. You can get analytics from social media. You can actually go on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook and see how you're doing; how your traffic is, and, what time of the day your customers are engaging with your products. You can get the data from right there and that business intelligence can inform decisions, so you know how to approach where to push more contents in order to grab more people,” she informed.

She informed that as the world was moving towards a digital age, more businesses needed to engage automation but this would require a culture change. Miss Phipps said technology such as cloud computing should be embraced because it reduced the need for physical space. She added that another technology MSME should embrace was automation.

Miss Phipps outlined that automation was not limited to hardware such as robots, but included software such as WhatsApp business, digitalizing invoices and receipts as well as having an automated response via WhatsApp and social media.

“We need to make the shift as small business because this is the direction the world is heading,” she related. “The shift should not be just a reliance on social media, or a market place platform. It has to be holistic. It has to include the people; so we have to change the way in which we think.”

She added with the government planning to get more MSMEs into the digital economy, now was the right time to embrace digital technologies.

“We also have to change the perspective in which we view our businesses, the market that we're operating in, we have to understand the customers that we're serving. It also has to be a cultural change and second nature.”

Kimberly Atkinson, communication and client services manager, JN Small Business Loans added that technology such as data analytics could also assist farmers to identify markets and plant crops accordingly.

“You can use data to determine what crops are needed and where. For example, you may only need peppers and sweet potatoes in Clarendon. But, data may also show a need for more vegetables in the hotel areas. Using technology such as data analytics will tell you that although you are operating from Clarendon, an opportunity exists for you to plant more vegetables to supply hotels in western Jamaica, which allows you to enter a new market and earn more. So, data informs your decisions to produce more crops in need and reduce planting too much of a particular crop,” she noted.

Earlier, Dr. Norman Dunn, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce informed attendees about the benefits of E-commerce National Delivery System (ENDS) and its potential to transform MSMEs.


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