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Free Doesn’t Mean Free: Explore AI Solutions Safely and Productively for Your Business

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AI’s potential to revolutionize workflows and drive growth offers small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) a compelling opportunity to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving market. However, as SMBs increasingly explore AI tools and solutions for their operations and marketing efforts, the need for cautious exploration is paramount. Amidst the availability of free or low-cost options, SMBs must navigate potential risks thoughtfully to safeguard their interests, protect consumer privacy and uphold ethical standards. In this Q&A, Karissa Liloc, Principal Product Manager for Generative AI at Getty Images and iStock, explores essential considerations for SMBs when evaluating, implementing and utilizing AI solutions, empowering them to harness the benefits of AI while mitigating potential risks.

Q: When considering AI solutions for their ecommerce strategies, what precautions should SMBs take to ensure protection against potential risks?

Karissa Liloc: Generative AI is in the spotlight daily for its innovative ability to ease workflows across all aspects of a business. There are many “promises” on the surface, but for a generative AI tool to be effective and safe to use, it needs to be heavily researched and evaluated to ensure that the business is protected from any risks associated with using AI-generated content. It’s important to scrutinize all vendor agreements to understand how the data behind individual tools was gathered in order to ensure the eventual outputs are safe for commercial use, and to understand how your information and outputs will be used in the future. Additionally, be sure to include stakeholders within your organization that are impacted to make sure you are avoiding any risks with using generated content down the road.

Q: What specific steps should SMBs in the retail and ecommerce space take when evaluating AI tools, especially free or low-cost options?  

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Liloc: It may be appealing to select free or low-cost AI tools, especially when budgets are tight and there are many options to choose from. However, they often come with hidden costs, particularly regarding the commercial safety of using generated outputs and the inclusion of your data in the AI tool for use publicly.

Alongside scrutinizing vendor agreements for protection and liabilities, businesses can take several steps to ensure the tools they are using are the right fit for their business and needs:

  • Determine areas where AI could enhance or supplement your current workflow. Research various options in the marketplace.
  • Make sure the tools can be customized to meet the requirements of your business, creating content that is on-brand and high quality.
  • Assess data privacy and security of the tools and make sure they comply with relevant data privacy regulations.
  • Ensure decision makers across your business are aware and onboard with implementing AI tools for certain functions. 

Q: How can SMBs ensure transparency and compliance when utilizing AI tools for tasks such as content generation?

Liloc: Transparency and compliance when using AI tools starts with thorough research and understanding vendor agreements. When reviewing agreements, look for AI tools that clearly explain their data usage policies and copyright compliance, such as not producing content that includes a famous face, landmark or logo. Also, because AI tools are evolving quickly, be sure to regularly review and update internal policies and procedures related to AI usage. 

Q: Before implementing AI solutions, how can SMBs facilitate open discussions among internal stakeholders and external partners to align on the intended use of AI tools and address any concerns related to privacy, ethics and consumer trust?

Liloc: Once clear objectives and expected outcomes of exploring generative AI tools are established, legal teams and advisors should be included for feedback and guidance. They can help mitigate risks and understand potential “hidden” or unknown issues before they become problems.

Small business owners can also foster open dialogue among internal teams and external partners by organizing informal brainstorming sessions or roundtable discussions about the use of AI tools. Encouraging everyone to share their thoughts and concerns about privacy, responsible AI practices and customer trust can yield valuable insights and align everyone on the best approach. By creating a relaxed yet focused atmosphere, small businesses can ensure that they hear all perspectives and that everyone is on the same page before proceeding with any AI tool. 


Karissa Liloc is Principal Product Manager, Generative AI at Getty Images and iStock, focused on generative AI and other tools that make it easier for customers to find and use imagery. Previously at Disney and Gap, Inc, she has a track record of bringing cross-functional teams together to provide solutions to customer problems and business challenges. Her most recent work has been bringing Generative AI by Getty Images to market, offering commercially safe, easy-to-use AI image generation that compensates creators.

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