George Cohon, renowned businessman and founder of...
Many Canadian businesses, including franchises, are transforming their businesses using artificial intelligence (AI). This technology is proven to increase productivity, deliver an enhanced customer experience and provide valuable data-driven insights that can revolutionize decision making.
However, the technology does not come without risk. Here is a look at the benefits and drawbacks of AI in franchising.
What is AI?
AI refers to a computer program or machine that has the ability to mimic human intelligence. This can range from machine learning, which describes a computer's ability to find patterns, make predictions or perform repetitive tasks, to deep learning, where a machine learns algorithms and then structures them in a logical manner.
Benefits of AI
Here are some of the benefits of AI.
Many franchises use AI chatbots on their websites and social media feeds to interact in a first line customer service role with customers, answering common questions and steering them to relevant support and guidance. It is possible that this technology could evolve to take customer orders in the future.
Resourcing and HR are time-intensive functions that can be revolutionized with AI technology. AI tools can be used to analyze data provided in cover letters and resumes, guiding recruiters to the candidates who demonstrate the greatest suitability for the role.
AI tools can analyze transactional and price data, comparing the market to simulate price scenarios and make insightful recommendations. AI can also be used to assess customer satisfaction levels and help business owners target areas needing improvement.
The greatest risk associated with the use of AI technology in franchising relates to data privacy. The Canadian federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) details the manner in which businesses, including franchises, must handle customers' personal information.
There is a real risk that AI technology could collect a customer's personal information and use it to predict the likely future behaviors of those customers, which is a clear breach of their data privacy, in addition to potentially creating an unfair operating environment in which businesses that exploit AI technology in this way can derive a competitive advantage.
The Canadian government is considering the potential impact of AI technology in business use. A bill known as Bill C-27 has completed its second reading in the House of Commons and will shortly go to review. This bill, if passed, will implement specific rules related to a business' use of AI technology.
AI technology can help a franchise business operate more efficiently, but it is crucial that businesses that employ this technology do so in a way that does not create bias or discrimination and is compliant with all applicable data privacy rules.