319: Insights into AI for Small Business Leaders with Guest Expert Tom Davenport

Tom Davenport, author of The AI Advantage

Bill Ringle and Tom Davenport discuss behind-the-scenes principles of how small business leaders can take advantage of artificial intelligence technologies to gain advantages similar to enterprises like Amazon and FICO enjoy.

>>> Visit MyQuestforTheBest.com for complete show notes and more expert advice and inspiring stories to propel your small business growth. My Quest for the Best is a top-rated small business podcast with over 300 episodes of thought-provoking and insightful interviews with today’s top thought leaders and business experts. Host Bill Ringle’s mission with this show is to provide the strategies, insights, and resources that will unlock the growth potential of your business through these powerful conversations.

Interview Insights

Top 3 Take-Aways from this Interview

  • Using AI can give small businesses a competitive advantage and through data gathering, a better customer experience.
  • Hiring AI experts costs a lot. It would be wise to hire them to do complex tasks. Simple tasks such as automation can be done with basic skills and this is something we can learn.
  • While it is important to know more about our customers to tailor-fit their needs and address their concerns faster, it is more important to make sure that there would be no violation of their privacy so that they will not lose trust in the company.

Read the Show Notes from this Episode

  • Tom shares how Daniel Bell was a huge influence on him growing up. [01:58]
  • Another great figure in Tom’s life is professor Jim Davis, who got him interested in statistical computing. [02:21]
  • One of the earliest companies to adopt AI is Amazon. [05:40]
  • Advice for small business leaders who want to take advantage of artificial intelligence. [08:35]
  • CASE: Radius Finance, and how using AI helped the company reduce processing costs. [10:35]
  • The benefits of AI when it comes to data gathering and customer service. [13:51]
  • The importance of still making customers feel assured that their privacy is not being invaded. [15:49]
  • CASE: FICO (Fair, Isaac, and Company) is one of the earliest companies to use machine learning to total credit scores. [18:58]
  • AI is not perfect yet so human investigation is still needed. [22:06]
  • My Quest for the Best Lightning Round begins [26:01]

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Expert Bio

Tom Davenport is the President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College, a Visiting Professor at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, a Fellow of the MIT Center for Digital Business, and a Senior Advisor to Deloitte’s AI practice. He teaches analytics and big data in executive programs at Babson, Harvard Business School, Harvard School of Public Health, and the MIT Sloan School. He pioneered the concept of “competing on analytics” with his best-selling 2006 Harvard Business Review article (and his 2007 book by the same name). His most recent book is The AI Advantage from MIT Press. He has written or edited twenty books in total and over 300 articles for Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, The Financial Times, and many other publications. He writes columns for Forbes, MIT Sloan Management Review, and The Wall Street Journal. He has been named one of the world’s “Top 25 Consultants” by Consulting magazine, one of the top 3 business/technology analysts in the world by Optimize Magazine, one of the 100 most influential people in the IT industry by Ziff-Davis magazines, and one of the world’s top fifty business school professors by Fortune Magazine. He’s also been a LinkedIn Top Voice for both the education and tech sectors.

Contact Info and Social Media for Tom Davenport

Resources Mentioned During the Interview

Below are key people, places, books, quotes, websites, and other resources that we discussed so you can explore further.

  • Alan Turing – an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist.
  • Daniel Bell – an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor at Harvard University, best known for his contributions to the study of post-industrialism. 
  • Salesforce – an American cloud-based software company that helps provides customer relationship management service and also provides a complementary suite of enterprise applications focused on customer service, marketing automation, analytics, and application development.
  • FICO ( Fair, Isaac, and Company ) – a data analytics company based in San Jose, California, focused on credit scoring services. It was founded by Bill Fair and Earl Isaac in 1956.

Published by Tom Davenport


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