Five Ways AI is Cutting Costs in Start-Ups and Small Businesses

By Dr. Christine Izuakor

Companies of various sizes have embraced the concept of the lean startup. Organizations are continually looking for ways to save money and stretch limited budgets to the max. Thanks to the growth in diverse applications of artificial intelligence, technology is helping companies achieve this goal.

First, let’s level set on the meaning of artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an umbrella term that is often used to describe the evolution of “smart” technology. According to Merriam Webster, the term artificial is used to describe things that are humanly contrived often on a natural model. Intelligence is defined as the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment. When combined and applied to technology, it means enabling systems to mimic the natural human model of thinking and apply knowledge to manipulate an environment. How does this apply to stretching a budget? A few examples include tools that can intelligently identify financial waste, a technology that can empower resources to be used more efficiently, and technology that can help companies avoid expensive fines. Here are a few ways that AI is assisting companies to stretch their limited budgets further.

Pinpoint waste in a sea of spending.

Artificial intelligence is taking the financial industry by storm. From trading and investing in supporting fraud detection, there are tons of applications that leverage AI to improve financial services. To continue operating and furthermore increase profit margins, companies must scrutinize spend and control financial waste. One way that AI is making a difference for companies is in helping identify these areas of wasted financial resources. Artificial intelligence based applications can comb through mounds of “big” data to identify potentially wasted funds and equip companies with the insight needed to make better decisions around spending. For example, here’s a list of financial monitoring apps, many of which incorporate artificial intelligence technology, that can help.

Eliminate time waste.

They say time is money and when you’re a small business working with limited funds, that couldn’t be truer. It’s estimated that disengaged and unproductive workers can cost companies a third of an employee’s salary, resulting in potentially millions of dollars lost per year. This is typically unacceptable for any company but can be detrimental for a startup or small business.  AI-based products can help you gain visibility into areas of substantial time waste. Essentially, you have the ability to see what employees are up to down to keyboard keystrokes and web browsing activity.

This is often based on User and Entity Behavior Analytics technology, which can empower companies to consider a holistic view of employee activities, identify trends, and potentially automate responses. Standard indicators of disengagement and resulting reduced productivity include irregular work hours, drastic changes in behavior, and more. When these events are overlaid with real logged activities – this provides context that can be used to alert against key parameters. Employees that are flagged as credible threats can be further monitored for suspicious activity occurring through their accounts. This includes but not limited to reviews of the employee’s search history, data they’ve exported or copied, and even playback of activities during specific time frames of concern.

Avoid costs associated with security hiccups and fines.

Cybersecurity mega breaches are the norm in 2019. In addition to the costs associated with typical breach response (including required investigations, notifications, and reputational damages), if non-compliance with increasingly stringent regulations is also a factor, fines can add millions of dollars to the price tag. AI-based security technology can help reduce some of these risks by supporting compliance needs and goals in corporations. Also, advanced security capabilities, such as smart monitoring backed by artificial intelligence algorithms, can reduce the likelihood and impact of a breach occurring by detecting threats as early as possible.

Another point to consider is that small companies may look to leverage freeware to support critical business operations. While there are a lot of seemingly safe freeware options out there, there are also even more infected and malicious tools floating around disguised as safe freeware. Though caution should always be exercised when introducing freeware into the environment, small companies can do so a little more confidently knowing that intelligent threat detection and analysis tools can predict adversarial events and proactively work to mitigate the impact.

Finally, AI-based solutions are helping companies fight fraud and identify theft cases, including those stemming from insider threats within the company. The use cases in this space are virtually endless.

Reduce administrative burdens.

One of the most common use cases for AI, in general, is getting rid of mundane and repetitive manual tasks. If a computer can learn to do it, and probably do it much faster, why use humans? Artificial intelligence based products are cutting time wasted on labor-intensive tasks down exponentially, which can save labor costs in the long run. Whether as simple as a grammar check on a sentence, to autonomously parking your car. This domain is removing manual admin work from the equation for many businesses. Those valuable resources and brainpower can then be put to use on more complex tasks that machines are not yet equipped to handle.


The evolution and advancements of AI have garnered substantial investments from companies across a variety of industries. As businesses cash in on the benefits by saving money in time, resources, and more, it’s proving to be an investment that is well worth it.

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About the author

Dr. Christine Izuakor
Dr. Izuakor is the Senior Manager of Global Security Strategy and Awareness at United Airlines where she plays a critical part in embedding cyber security in United’s culture. She is an adjunct professor of cyber security at Robert Morris University, and independently helps corporations solve a diverse range of strategic cybersecurity challenges.

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