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The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship, in collaboration with Madison Chamber of Commerce, recently presented a “Let’s Connect” event that delved into the fascinating world of Artificial Intelligence or A.I. and its applications for small businesses. Mona Miller, far right, Women’s Business Center Director for The Catalyst, leads a discussion. A panel of experts included Jason Miller, seated from left, partner with Anglin Reichmann CPAs; Chris Obadal from Deloitte; and Tommy Morris with the Center for Cybersecurity Research and Engineering with the University of Alabama in Huntsville. CONTRIBUTED

Catalyst Center, Chamber explore Artificial Intelligence or A.I.

MADISON – A recent session for business professionals focused on a weighty question: “What is Artificial Intelligence or A.I., and how can it be effectively harnessed by small businesses?”

“The Madison Chamber of Commerce in partnership with The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship has created a series of four engaging and timely topics to help our business owners find real-time solutions to their everyday business challenges,” Chamber Executive Director Michelle Epling said.

“Everyone is talking about A.I. technology and ChatGPT (an A.I. tool for content marketing), but teaching our business owners through a panel of experts is important in helping them understand how to leverage this new technology in a way that works for their business,” Epling said.

“(The session was) facilitated by the Women’s Business Center Director with The Catalyst, Mona Miller. The event brought together a panel of esteemed experts: Jason Miller, a partner with Anglin Reichmann CPAs; Chris Obadal from Deloitte; and Tommy Morris from the Center for Cybersecurity Research and Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville,” Sandy Edwards said. Edwards is Operations Manager for The Catalyst Center.

The event started with an engaging introduction to A.I., which aimed to demystify this innovative technology. Morris explained how A.I. encompasses a range of technologies that enable machines to learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention.

“He emphasized that A.I. is not just the stuff of science fiction but a reality that has the potential to revolutionize businesses across all industries,” Edwards said. “We can learn it, or get left behind.”

Discussing the benefit of unlocking opportunities, Obadal shared the practical applications of A.I., such as streamlining processes, delivering customer service, optimizing marketing efforts, writing proposals and predicting trends. “It can even write a newsletter article like this one,” Obadal said.

Small businesses can leverage A.I. to automate repetitive tasks, allowing employees to focus on higher-value activities that can drive growth and innovation, Obadal said.

Miller emphasized the importance of responsible A.I. implementation. He highlighted that data privacy and security should be paramount when using A.I. Businesses must ensure compliance in protecting their customers’ information. “A.I. is not perfect; it cannot do math well, and it will make up stuff,” Miller said.

“Attendees engaged the experts with thought-provoking questions, ranging from how to craft questions and requests from an A.I. source to how best to craft original messaging about your specific business out of A.I. Several attendees shared how they are already utilizing A.I. in their business,” Edwards said.

“The event, hosted by The Catalyst Center and Madison Chamber of Commerce, left attendees inspired and equipped with a newfound understanding of A.I.’s potential. By engaging experts from diverse backgrounds, the discussion provided a comprehensive view of A.I., from its theoretical underpinnings to its real-world applications in small businesses,” Edwards said.

Sonya Bailor, CEO of the Bailor and session attendee, said she “got to not only get to see the incredible team . . . but also got to be a continuing part of this valuable conversation. We discussed the potential uses, risks and learning of A.I. for businesses, including platforms like ChatGPT. Cheers to empowering entrepreneurs and business leaders and fostering innovation.”

“We are so thankful for our sponsor of this event series, Family Security Credit Union, and their supporting our business owners for these latest trends,” Epling said.

For more information, visit madisonalchamber.com or catalystcenter.org.

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