Conversational AI: Unlocking Insights from Your Data for Small Businesses

cengkuru michael
3 min readOct 25, 2023
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Introduction: The Dawn of Data-Driven Dialogue

Picture this: a busy corporate executive types a simple question into a chat interface: “What’s the year-on-year revenue growth?” Within seconds, a well-crafted, nuanced answer pops up, powered by the immense database the company has been building for years. No, it’s not magic — it’s the transformative power of Cognitive Search combined with OpenAI.

Welcome to the future of corporate decision-making: lightning-fast, conversational, and deeply informed.

In this post, we’ll explore how to create a ChatGPT-like experience over private organizational data.

The Marriage of OpenAI and Cognitive Search

Azure OpenAI, exemplified by models like ChatGPT, brings the power of conversational AI. Azure Cognitive Search, on the other hand, offers robust search capabilities across your organizational data. When combined, you get a smart, talkative librarian who not only knows where everything is but can also discuss it with you at length.

Feeding the Beast: Data Indexing in Azure Cognitive Search

Before your AI can serve you, it needs data. Import your business data into Azure Cognitive Search.


  • Document Types: A maximum of 1000 document types per index.
  • Document Count: Up to 15 million documents per index.
  • Index Size: Maximum of 2GB per index.
  • Indexing Speed: On average, you can expect 2–3 documents per second on standard hardware. If you’re dealing with more extensive indexes, be ready to invest in more potent dedicated hardware.

Pricing Insights

Pricing Insights: How to Keep the Bill to $30 a Month

As small businesses often have limited resources, let's discuss the budget.

Frugal Strategies:

  • Stick to Basics: The basic plan lacks frills but keeps costs low.
  • Selective Indexing: Only index crucial documents. Each extra file incurs cost.
  • Resource Sharing: Share the service cost with other divisions in your business ecosystem.
  • Regular Cleanup: Purge outdated or redundant data to free up your budget.
  • Off-Peak and Promotions: Exploit Azure’s discounted rates and free-tier allowances when available.

Going Public: AI Beyond the In-House Team

The deployment options are your gateway to making this AI assistant public, allowing you to serve both your team and customers.

Deployment Avenues

  • Web App: Ideal for businesses with an online presence.
  • Power Platform: Integrate your AI into existing business applications.
  • Teams App: Equip your in-house team with data-driven insights via Microsoft Teams.
  • Public API: The choice for broader public and third-party access.
  • Mobile App: Keep your field staff connected to real-time data.

Cost and Scalability

Start small with internal apps and expand as your AI model matures. Use Azure’s services to scale affordably while being mindful of the cost-saving strategies mentioned earlier.

Conclusion: Your Business’s Personal Knowledge Maestro

Your digital librarian stands ready to empower your business with instant, informed answers. From Accra to Zanzibar, small business owners now have an affordable, intelligent conversational partner to consult. The future of small businesses in Africa just got a lot more exciting.



cengkuru michael

I turn data into meaningful stories by analyzing and visualizing information to create a cohesive narrative. Love helping others see the world in a new light.