Iron Glory (MK2) on the left, and Eagle Prime (MK3), giant robots by MegaBots Inc. which manufactures giant piloted humanoid fighting robots headquartered in Berkeley, California, U.S. are shown in this undated photo released on October 17, 2017.   Courtesy Greg Munson/MegaBots Inc./Handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Giant robots by MegaBots. Impressive but the human touch will always prevail in business. Courtesy Greg Munson/MegaBots

How will artificial intelligence affect small business owners?



On a recent trip to Europe, I visited a McDonald’s outlet for a quick bite.

The queue was extremely long, so I automatically headed over to the self-serve kiosk, punched in my order and received it from a dedicated counter. I was in and out in no time.

Artificial intelligence (AI), robots and automation will replace human tasks in the food service industry. Earlier this year, in an interview with CNBC, Greg Creed, the chief executive of Yum Brands, which owns several fast-food brands including Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, stated that in a decade, many fast-food restaurants would be automated.

Amazon, the online retail juggernaut, introduced Amazon Go, a grocery story in Seattle with no checkout, where customers are charged on their Amazon account. The technology automatically detects when products are taken from and returned to the Shelf and is able to keep track using a virtual cart.

That does not just stop at food and retail. Last week Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced the launch of the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the first project under UAE Centennial 2017, where AI will be embraced in both public and private sectors. In addition there has been the appointment of the UAE's first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar Bin Sultan, showcasing the UAE's strong belief in how AI will be an important factor of our future.

But what does that mean for small business owners? How will AI impact small businesses?

For starters many jobs that exist today, especially within the service sector may not exist in the future. Jobs like travel agents, auditors and accountants will be replaced with AI technologies.

When it comes to retail, online shopping presents a threat to existing stores. Online shopping platforms such as Dubai-based The Modist offer same-day delivery services and the latest curated high-fashion products for modestly dressed women, sparing shoppers the time to mix and match outfits that are modest yet fashionable.

Going with the flow, is international fashion retailer Bebe, which announced that they will close their physical stores around the world and offer their products via their online store only.

Many young fashion designers in the GCC took the matter one step further by having their online stores solely present on social media and offering cash on delivery and online banking payment methods.

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Visiting retailers will be more than just shopping and more and more shops are offering in-store promotions and experiences to drive traffic to their stores.

From a personal experience advances in technologies such as high-speed internet, video-conferencing and fast info-sharing platforms mean that I could work from anywhere in the world. My team members at a new online venture that my sister and I are launching are scattered around the region and Europe. The job is equally done whether in an office or out but that does not mean that we cancelled out human interaction. In fact we ensure to factor in physical human interaction time.

But as you prepare to embrace the latest technologies in your business, whether it is AI, augmented reality, or virtual reality, and automate as many manual processes as possible, keep in mind that the human experience will become more and more valuable. People will always have an advantage over robots no matter what. Professions such as nurses, care giving and horticulture will always need humans.

Here is what you need to keep in mind as you integrate AI in your small business:

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and test what competitors or other businesses are offering. Evaluate what you like and dislike and plan how your customers can benefit from the technology to interact with your business.

Focus on the customer experience that your business delivers. Provide a personal touch and always work on enhancing your customer service. That is what keeps customers coming back to your business - what keeps them loyal.

Plan a specific AI implementation strategy. Evaluate which specific applications will be useful for your business. For instance, if you own a restaurant, you may want to consider automating the food ordering process. In the case of a fashion store, you may want to consider applying augmented reality solutions that would allow clients to try on your products online before purchasing them, sort of like a virtual changing room. Or you may consider a sole online presence.

Lastly, before you apply AI, ensure that you have the IT infrastructure to support it and that you keep up-to-date with the industry’s latest even if you are not looking to jump the wagon yet. That way you can see what will emerge that will benefit your business and what your competitors are doing so that you do not fall behind.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi.

Liverpool 4-1 Shrewsbury

Liverpool
Gordon (34'), Fabinho (44' pen, 90'+3), Firmino (78')

Shrewsbury
Udoh (27'minutes)

Man of the Match: Kaide Gordon (Liverpool)

Dates for the diary

To mark Bodytree’s 10th anniversary, the coming season will be filled with celebratory activities:

  • September 21 Anyone interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor can sign up for a 250-hour course in Yoga Teacher Training with Jacquelene Sadek. It begins on September 21 and will take place over the course of six weekends.
  • October 18 to 21 International yoga instructor, Yogi Nora, will be visiting Bodytree and offering classes.
  • October 26 to November 4 International pilates instructor Courtney Miller will be on hand at the studio, offering classes.
  • November 9 Bodytree is hosting a party to celebrate turning 10, and everyone is invited. Expect a day full of free classes on the grounds of the studio.
  • December 11 Yogeswari, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher, will be visiting the studio.
  • February 2, 2018 Bodytree will host its 4th annual yoga market.
A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

Results

Stage seven

1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates, in 3:20:24

2. Adam Yates (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1s

3. Pello Bilbao (ESP) Bahrain-Victorious, at 5s

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates, in 25:38:16

2. Adam Yates (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers, at 22s

3. Pello Bilbao (ESP) Bahrain-Victorious, at 48s

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Most polluted cities in the Middle East

1. Baghdad, Iraq
2. Manama, Bahrain
3. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
4. Kuwait City, Kuwait
5. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
6. Ash Shihaniyah, Qatar
7. Abu Dhabi, UAE
8. Cairo, Egypt
9. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
10. Dubai, UAE

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

MOST POLLUTED COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

1. Chad
2. Iraq
3. Pakistan
4. Bahrain
5. Bangladesh
6. Burkina Faso
7. Kuwait
8. India
9. Egypt
10. Tajikistan

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

START-UPS IN BATCH 4 OF SANABIL 500'S ACCELERATOR PROGRAMME

Saudi Arabia

Joy: Delivers car services with affordable prices

Karaz: Helps diabetics with gamification, IoT and real-time data

Medicarri: Medical marketplace that connects clinics with suppliers

Mod5r: Makes automated and recurring investments to grow wealth

Stuck: Live, on-demand language support to boost writing

Walzay: Helps in recruitment while reducing hiring time

UAE

Eighty6: Marketplace for restaurant and supplier procurements

FarmUnboxed: Helps digitise international food supply chain

NutriCal: Helps F&B businesses and governments with nutritional analysis

Wellxai: Provides insurance that enables and rewards user habits

Egypt

Amwal: A Shariah-compliant crowd-lending platform

Deben: Helps CFOs manage cash efficiently

Egab: Connects media outlets to journalists in hard-to-reach areas for exclusives

Neqabty: Digitises financial and medical services of labour unions

Oman

Monak: Provides financial inclusion and life services to migrants

Company profile

Company name: Shipsy
Year of inception: 2015
Founders: Soham Chokshi, Dhruv Agrawal, Harsh Kumar and Himanshu Gupta
Based: India, UAE and Indonesia
Sector: logistics
Size: more than 350 employees
Funding received so far: $31 million in series A and B rounds
Investors: Info Edge, Sequoia Capital’s Surge, A91 Partners and Z3 Partners

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Dresos

Started: September 2020

Founders: Vladimir Radojevic and Aleksandar Jankovic

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Fashion

Funding: $285,000; $500,000 currently being raised

Investors: Crowdfunding, family, friends and self-funding

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Shaffra
Started: 2023
Based: DIFC Innovation Hub
Sector: metaverse-as-a-Service (MaaS)
Investment: currently closing $1.5 million seed round
Investment stage: pre-seed
Investors: Flat6Labs Abu Dhabi and different PCs and angel investors from Saudi Arabia
Number of staff: nine

THE BIO

Family: I have three siblings, one older brother (age 25) and two younger sisters, 20 and 13 

Favourite book: Asking for my favourite book has to be one of the hardest questions. However a current favourite would be Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier

Favourite place to travel to: Any walkable city. I also love nature and wildlife 

What do you love eating or cooking: I’m constantly in the kitchen. Ever since I changed the way I eat I enjoy choosing and creating what goes into my body. However, nothing can top home cooked food from my parents. 

Favorite place to go in the UAE: A quiet beach.

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Our legal consultants

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded