Artificial Intelligence (AI) vs WordPress plugins
Posted on 20 May 2020 by Cristiano Solarino
Me: “Alexa, does my SME need to use AI business solutions?”
Alexa: “Yes! Your SME needs AI now!”
It’s no surprise that Alexa will think that, as do many articles on artificial intelligence in business.
However, is that sound advice?
Is it better to look at what AI is capable of and then try to implement AI into your business? Or should you identify your core business needs first, and then address them in the simplest, fastest and most cost-effective way possible? We think it is the latter, but understand it’s easy to get carried away in the AI hype.
“Phenomenal Cosmic Powers… itty bitty scope!”
Artificial Intelligence gets used as an umbrella term for mathematical and engineering techniques for learning conditional probabilities – the probability of an output occurring when a particular input is presented.
In some contexts, like image recognition and categorisation, these techniques are allowing computers to perform better than humans. However, these applications are typically very narrow in scope, mainly due to the complexity and the amount of data required during the learning phase. Thus, at least for the time being, “If you don’t have a narrow scope, it probably won’t work.”
Should you go ‘Bespoke’ or ‘Off-the-shelf’?
The level of expertise and investment likely required for completely bespoke solutions is generally considered an obstacle in the adoption of Artificial Intelligence by SMEs.
Off-the-shelf models and alternatives are plentiful, but they come with some issues. A model is what the industry calls a particular learning algorithm in the field. The critical point is that they are not exposed to the specific idiosyncrasies of your business data during the training phase and therefore, may not be as relevant for your use case.
For example, suppose your business audience are Personal Trainers, and you want to add Question and Answer functionality to your website allowing your users to ask fitness questions in plain English and get relevant, reputable answers from various resources (e.g. ACSM guidelines).
For a model to be most effective for this use-case, it will need to be trained with not only the kind of questions that Personal Trainer would ask but also using the type of language they specifically use in their profession. A generic off-the-shelf model will miss that.
Can some of the best WordPress plugins come to the rescue?
Statistics show that as of early 2020, there is a 35.2% probability that WordPress powers your website.
We think that is an excellent choice!
Because with a WordPress website you have at your disposal not just a CMS but a flexible platform with over 56,000 extensions covering most use cases under the sun – including AI functionality you can get with WordPress plugins!
The chances are that once you have identified your business needs, WordPress can meet these needs at a minimal cost.
Let’s consider some examples.
One popular application of AI in business is in marketing and advertising. Consider now the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin, which can help your content authors optimise their output for Search Engine Optimisation. This increases the likelihood of your business appearing first in your target audience’s search results with most functionality available for free.
If it’s an insight into your users’ behaviour that you are after, the Hotjar plugin adds visual user behaviour tracking with heatmaps, recordings and incoming feedback, with the basic package also free.
Businesses have successfully leveraged AI to improve customer services. WordPress offers many alternatives here, with live chat being a personal favourite. Plugins like Tidio feature a free starter package as well as premium packages that include the ability to deploy chatbots.
You can also improve the way your visitors search and interact with your WordPress site by integrating with Elasticsearch, a powerful full-text search engine that supports aggregate queries of arbitrary complexity and real-time data analysis (see ElasticPress for an example plugin).
WordPress easily integrates with Google Analytics for any remaining data insight needs, with many plugins available that can embed the analytics directly in your WordPress admin dashboard.
What to do now?
Are you sure that your business needs AI? If the answer is still yes, WordPress remains a great option to take your first steps towards AI as a quick search for plugins tagged with “artificial intelligence” shows fifteen different options.
If Artificial Intelligence is keeping you awake at night or if you are unsure about the best options for your business’s success, feel free to contact us at BrightMinded. We are WordPress developers by trade and AI graduates by training – you get the best of both worlds!