Is ML/AI for big companies only ?

Recently, a friend of mine who owns a SME ( Small and Mid Size Enterprise ) asked me – “Is ML/AI for big companies only ? Can we (SME) also benefit from Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence wave ” ?

I asked – “why do you think you will not benefit” ?

“Most of use cases talk about ‘terabytes of data, complex algorithms and super human data scientist’ which are beyond SMEs reach. So I guess it is for big companies only” – he replied.

This may be the impression most SME owners might carry, but it is not far from truth. In fact, it is other way. The impact of ML/AI will be more pronounced on SMEs while on big companies it will average out.

Here are the reasons:

1.) Most of ML/AI algorithms needs 50-100 data points to create a model. So it is not terabytes, even KB and MB of data will be good enough for model inputs.

2.) A segment of 50-100 members is good enough to define segment behavior. So a customer base of 500+ is a good use case for segment analysis.

3.) Effect of weather or local events has larger effect on local businesses. It is easier to track impact on SMEs ; for large corporation it averages out.

4.) There are less data silos in SME so unlocking is easier. Data is well understood in SME world while in big corporations it is very complex and often riddled with politics.

5.) SME owners understand their business in totality, while executive of big corporations know only one part of business. Better business understanding and defined metrics lead to better models.

6.) Better personalized service is possible for SMEs where segment size is small and customers are local and loyalty has major impact on business.

7.) Now tools and cloud has taken cost barrier out for SMEs. They should be using AI/ML extensively to drive their business.

Vivek Singh – data architect, open source evangelist , chief contributor of Open Source Data Quality project

Author of fiction book “The Reverse Journey”