Using off-the-shelf AI solutions for investment promotion

Artificial intelligence (AI) has rapidly emerged as a technology that is expected to transform the way we work and live. Companies across every industry are scrambling to adopt AI and harness its potential for exponential productivity gains. Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) are also exploring the different ways in which AI can enhance their performance. While some IPAs are seeking to develop in-house tools, this requires technical skills, access to data, and financial resources that are beyond the reach of many agencies. As an alternative to developing their own tools, IPAs can make use of a growing number of AI-powered solutions available in the market, which can serve as a cost-effective gateway to test new technologies. In this article, we provide examples of off-the shelf tools that IPAs can apply to different areas of their day-to-day work. 

Identifying potential investors 

IPAs are always looking for methods to simplify and ideally automate the search for companies with genuine investment potential. Specialized FDI targeting platforms have been available for some time and are increasingly building AI into their research. However, IPAs can also conduct their own research using broader AI-based research tools that provide a greater level of customization and flexibility. 

For example, Innodata, a U.S. software company, offers a cloud-based AI tool that uses sentiment analysis to identify potential leads among a specific pool of companies. This approach automates and consolidates the process of scanning various data sources, supporting complex, multifaceted searches. IPAs that are willing to conduct their own specialized research can use this tool to save time and increase the accuracy of their targeting. 

Automating and customizing investor outreach 

Most IPAs regularly send emails to executives of prospective investors, including initial outreach, follow-up emails, and newsletters. Ideally, these emails should be tailored with an individualized message that is relevant to the recipient. However, this requires time-consuming research about each company and contact. 

A possible solution is, a cloud-based platform that combines CRM with prospecting features. It provides access to a global database of more than 275 million business contacts and a sophisticated filter function to create customized target lists. In addition, users can apply the dynamic variables tool, which pulls individual content from each contact profile and previous interaction to customize every new email. Some IPAs are using this tool to personalize investor communication and achieve higher conversion rates. 

Creating and analyzing investor surveys 

As part of their aftercare activities, many IPAs use large-scale surveys to evaluate the satisfaction, challenges, and requirements of existing investors. Surveys need to be concise enough to generate responses while collecting enough data about the current situation of investors to allow the IPA to develop tailored interventions.  

SurveyMonkey has been a popular survey tool for some time. It now provides the option of using AI to generate comprehensive surveys based on a brief description of objectives and topics. It also uses sentiment analysis to interpret responses to open-ended questions by categorizing answers into positive, neutral, or negative. This allows IPAs to identify pressing issues quickly and accurately and develop targeted and timely responses. 

Localizing promotional materials 

All IPAs produce promotional materials to communicate their locations’ key strengths and benefits to potential investors. This material typically remains the same for several years and is used regardless of a potential investor’s origin and background. Translating the content of value propositions into different languages has typically been time consuming and costly. 

AI-powered tools can significantly increase efficiency in translation and reduce the risk of human error. The Latvian company Localize offers a cloud-based platform that accelerates the process of content customization in different languages. Its AI-driven translation tool provides features such as creating variants of the same text, shortened or rephrased text alternatives, or SEO optimization. This tool can assist IPAs to adapt value propositions and marketing content quickly and reliably for global audiences. 

Creating effective websites 

Websites are crucial communication tools for IPAs and often serve as the initial point of contact for potential investors. Websites should have an attractive landing page and an efficient structure that aids both visitors and search engines in navigating and understanding the website’s content. Developing a compelling website that stands out among competing IPAs is a complex task and IPAs often lack the resources to compare websites and identify what truly matters to their audience. 

The US-based software company MarketMuse offers a systematic comparison of an IPA’s website with those of its competitors, a quantitative measure of content quality, concrete recommendations for improvement across all sub-pages, and an evaluation of relevant topics. These insights enable IPAs to employ a data-driven approach to enhance their website content and strategically plan new content such as news or articles. 

Answering initial queries 

Recent advancements in generative AI have significantly expanded the capabilities of chatbots for various applications, including customer service, marketing, sales, and events. When integrated into an IPAs website, a chatbot can serve as a valuable resource, providing investors with initial information on real estate, workforce, taxes, investment regulations, and other location-specific topics. 

The challenge for an IPA lies in providing investors with timely, specific, and reliable information – a task that existing chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT 4.0 often struggle with. This is primarily because they are programmed to respond to specific prompts and can stumble when a request deviates from trained patterns or is overly complex. The best option for an IPA to overcome those challenges is to cooperate with OpenAI, Aleph Alpha, or other providers of Large Language Models to build a powerful, yet customized chatbot for the agency. 

Selective and incremental use of AI tools 

Although we are still in the early stages of the AI revolution, IPAs can make use of an increasing number of technological solutions to become more efficient and overcome resource constraints. The deployment of AI by IPAs should be selective and incremental, focusing on areas where it can have the greatest impact given the agency’s unique strategy and requirements. Using AI selectively in this way will enable IPA staff to focus on higher value activities like servicing important investors and winning deals, while allowing the IPA to increase its deployment of AI solutions as it becomes more comfortable with the technology and new and improved tools become available. 

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