Artificial intelligence might not play an important role in your company yet, but A.I. and machine learning are rapidly transforming our modern-day business environment. According to a year-end 2021 survey by McKinsey, 56 percent of respondents said they had implemented A.I. technology in at least one function, up from 50 percent the previous year.

Still, it can be difficult to determine if implementing A.I. in your business is a smart investment or an unnecessary expense. Here are three questions every business owner should ask before diving headfirst into the world of A.I. 

1. How can A.I. improve my business?

The first question to ask yourself when considering A.I. is what problems might be solved with the technology. An e-commerce company might use A.I. to market and recommend specific products to consumers based on their data, while a financial services company could use A.I. to better predict shifts in the market and get their clients out of risky investments before it's too late. 

According to the McKinsey survey, the most commonly adopted use for A.I. by businesses in 2021 was in service operations, such as chatbots and virtual assistants. Other widely adopted uses of the technology include risk modeling, A.I.-based product enhancement, and customer service analytics. Ask yourself if automating part of your business has an easily identifiable benefit, or whether you have routine tasks that could easily be automated.

2. Do I have the relevant data?

After you've determined how A.I. technology could improve your business, it's time to take a hard look at your data. According to IBM, about 80 percent of work on an A.I. project revolves around collecting and preparing data, with just the remaining 20 percent dedicated to analysis and testing. 

Any kind of artificial intelligence is only as good as the data it learns from, so make sure you have access to quality data, and a lot of it. According to a February 2022 article by Dataversity, firms can use the following six factors to determine the quality of their data:

  • Completeness 
  • Accuracy 
  • Consistency 
  • Timeliness 
  • Validity
  • Uniqueness

3: How much will it cost to implement A.I.?

Once you've determined the problem you want to use A.I. technology to solve, and you've confirmed that you have access to enough quality data, you'll need to hire some artificial intelligence talent to help in creating the algorithms that will run your A.I. programs. 

Convincing A.I. talent to join your company may be easier said than done, as giants in the space like Google and Meta are able to offer large budgets for projects along with cushy benefits. To compete, employers might consider contracting A.I. consultants who can be hired on a per-project basis or researching what A.I. software applications can be purchased. You should also be sure that you have the budget to implement what could be a costly and lengthy process. 

The possibilities of using A.I. in your business may seem endless, but with some critical thinking, you can determine your own personal best path forward with this exciting technology.