Smart machines grow small business

Melbourne researchers in the field of machine learning and evolutionary computation are working to unlock the sophisticated mathematical systems that regulate our natural environments. The results have seemingly limitless practical application.

Whatever your business, the ‘machines’ may now be your new best friend. Smart machines or smart software that exhibit sophisticated artificial intelligence still seem like something you would only encounter in advanced tech companies or on the movie screen.

However, clever small businesses are getting on trend and discovering the advantages smart bots (and equally smart humans) can bring to their business, including:

  • Better real time analysis that can inform strategies and service
  • Predictive behaviour that can help you process faster
  • Automated service that can actually be personalised

Top AI talent solving real world problems

Smart businesses, big and small, are taking advantage of the rich data now available to adapt to opportunities in the market and build relationships with their customers.

Victorian businesses in particular are able to draw on a great wealth of local knowledge, as researchers from Victorian universities continue to refine already sophisticated data analysis methods.

“Victoria is a real innovation hothouse,” said Associate Professor Xiaodong Li, part of the Evolutionary Computing and Machine Learning team (ECML) at RMIT University that is developing computational models and algorithms inspired by the observation of natural phenomena, such as migration patterns and swarm intelligence.

The ECML is an interdisciplinary body, but it’s diverse interests can be summarised by the idea that nature exhibits mathematical models and algorithms that are far more sophisticated than anything humans have been able to develop, and that these can be usefully applied to real-world problems.

Professor Li emphasised the value of research groups like the ECML for fostering innovative academic communities.

“Groups like ours provide opportunities for experts in our field, as well as those entering, to develop their thinking, research and connections”, he said.

“Many of these talented people then use their skills to help small and big business make the most of potential artificial intelligence developments on offer and apply their knowledge here in Victoria, or further afield.”

When Mind and Machine Meet

This kind of research is not new, but the way it is now being applied to business is very modern, and Victorian businesses are leading the way.

The potential applications of this research to both industry innovation and business management increase in proportion to advances in digital technology.

Where the internet transformed business through its creation of a global communication network, the exceptionally creative research of organisations like the ECML are offering ways for business owners to better utilise the data this network creates. Their modelling can be used to streamline business management, interpret data, and improve engagement with customers.

And you don’t have to be a large business to benefit.

“They used to call it analysis, but with the advent of smart machines and coding, analytics are now real time,” said Mr Robin Schmidt, owner of a specialist and rare online bookshop called Huc & Gabet, operating out of regional Victoria.

“I am able to monitor what is trending, what people are looking at, and not only stock accordingly, but market it as well. People aren’t surprised, anymore, that we know what they’ve looked at and can suggest other titles based on that.

“I now spend as much time strategising about the impact of technology on our business, and how we can use that to grow, as I do about what stock to buy.”