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AI Policies: What Are They and Does Your Small Business Need One?

Policy-Paperwork-Sign

It’s no secret or surprise that artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm recently. The business world and even small businesses are not immune from these sweeping changes.

Ignoring the impact AI will have on every industry is not a viable long-term option. The best choice for each of us is to proactively adapt ourselves and our organizations before we’re forced to do so or go out of business.

Researching and writing a set of AI policies is one step in the right direction. This process guides a small business through where AI is used and keeps us transparent with our team and customers.

But what’s involved with creating AI policies? Is it necessary in your industry? And what resources are available to help execute this new business documentation?

What Are Business AI Policies?

AI policies are guidelines and rules that govern the development, deployment, and usage of artificial intelligence technologies within a small business context. This will look different for every business and industry, so it helps to do your research.

Creating an AI policy for your small business keeps you in check ethically, legally, and organizationally. Currently, there aren’t nationwide laws or regulations requiring businesses to implement AI policy documents, but that could change soon.

It’s better to work on one before you need it, rather than be caught behind the rest of your industry or legal obligations.

What Should Be Included in an AI Policy?

Every business’ AI policy should be unique based on your situation. However, there are some basic components that you should consider addressing:

  • AI Usage: How is your team using artificial intelligence? Which of your tools include AI components? Where might a customer expect to see AI-generated content?
  • Training & Awareness: What is your team doing to stay updated with AI? How are you transparently informing your clients so they’re up to date?
  • Values & Ethics: What company values determine your approach to AI? How are you handling people’s private data? Where is human oversight used?
  • Risk & Security: How are you ensuring protection and risk mitigation where needed? What needs to happen to maintain trust with customers?

What Are the Benefits of Having an AI Policy?

The primary benefit of investing time now is avoiding addressing this urgently later. By being proactive, you’re showing clients that you’re innovative, and gives you a competitive edge. 

Intentionally thinking through AI’s impact on your business helps you be efficient with using new technologies. It helps you avoid unnecessary risks and use AI properly instead of reactively.

It’s important to remember that an AI policy is as much for your internal team as it is for the general public. Most people won’t read a technical document like this, so the real value lies in the process of assembling it.

Does My Business Need An AI Policy?

Even if you’re a small business, creating a simple policy is likely in your best interest. There are a few instances where this might be more valuable than others:

  • If you create digital content or products
  • If you’re involved in digital technology or software
  • If you work with national or international clients

How Do You Create a Business AI Policy?

Assuming you’ve decided that this is in your best interest, where do you get started? This doesn’t need to be a complicated process—just get started somewhere and gradually improves.

  • Keep it simple: It’s tempting to stuff technical jargon into this document or rely on a lawyer to write a bunch of fancy words. But it’s better for your team and customers to remain plainspoken and limit the length.
  • Meet as a team: Don’t compile the document in isolation. Assemble a few key team members, and maybe even outside help (like your marketing agency), to brainstorm what should be included. Get several perspectives involved.
  • Do an AI audit: Take a snapshot of which digital tools you’re using including AI—it’s probably more than you realize. Documenting this list helps you be realistic about your AI usage.
  • Leverage AI: Appropriately enough, you can use AI text tools to generate an outline or first draft of your policy. However, don’t rely entirely on AI. Review the copy and make intentional updates based on your human intuition. 
  • Keep it updated: Don’t simply write the policy and store it away to collect dust. Review it periodically and keep yourselves accountable. AI is changing rapidly and your policy should be revised to reflect this.

What Are Some Examples of Company AI Policies?

Most of the easily accessible AI policy examples are unsurprisingly from large technology companies. Your AI policy will likely look a little different from theirs. However, we can also learn from their example.

Are You Ready to Create an AI Policy?

Most people imagine artificial intelligence as an immensely complex topic—which, to be fair, it is. However, preparing your small business for dealing with AI doesn’t have to be. Creating a simple but intentional AI policy is a good first step.

This is an important conversation for digital marketing agencies like GreenMellen because it will have an outsized impact on our business model. We’re committed to being transparent with our customers on how we use AI. And we love educating everyone on technology changes like this.

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About the Author

Robert Carnes

Marketing Manager

Robert Carnes is a freelance writer, published author, and professional marketer. His book, The Story Cycle, is your business's guide to becoming a better marketer. Robert lives in Atlanta and you can follow him on social media @jamrobcar.

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