AI tools are here to stay: Learn how to incorporate them into your business

open laptop on desk

With a slew of new programs and assistants popping up everywhere, it’s easy to make use of emerging AI technology. But why bother learning something new if what you’re doing is working?

Easy — to keep up with everyone else already using these potential time-saving tools.

Trust me, making space to learn something new is rarely high on my to-do list. But as a writer and editor, content creator, and social media manager, I know this technology has the potential to support my work.

So let’s look at what AI is, and how you can best make use of the smart tools in your business.

What is AI?

If you’re at all like me, the term AI calls up Matrix-style images of computers taking over the world. But this new(ish) technology is far from the sentient robots all over science fiction.

But, like its dystopian counterparts, AI does have serious potential. This new surge of AI tools is designed to help with content generation, brainstorming ideas, repurposing content for other platforms, streamlining research, increasing accessibility, and even editing.

These tools will help us get more done in a shorter time frame. Which is great, as long as they don’t also lead to higher content output expectations from employers or clients.

While AI is great at scraping the web and sharing what it finds, it still needs the human touch to turn those findings into something easily digestible by everyday readers and content consumers.

You’re probably using this technology already

If you’ve ever let a program correct your spelling, you’ve already used AI. Or at least an AI precursor based on a database of “correct” words and grammar ideations.

Do you remember Clippy? Back in 1997, he was supporting Microsoft Office users by offering suggestions and generally being in the way all the time after you’d figured out how to use the program correctly.

A visual manifestation of the overall Help program, Clippy (actually named Clippit) was designed to watch what the user is doing on the screen and then offer ways to help out. Almost exactly how AI tools can support us today.

Common AI tools I’ve been using for years

Grammarly is a tool I’ve been using for years. It has helped me improve my writing, even though it makes an occasional edit I don’t like. Like all tools, it needs a human touch to refine the suggestions.

In a recent email, Grammarly told me it has checked more than 12 million of my words since May 2020. Most of Grammarly’s suggestions are good – some rules I break on purpose, as every good writer does. But I appreciate the straightforward rules and guidelines that Grammarly uses to check content.

Another tool that’s helpful to me is Canva. If you make posts or images for, well, anything, Canva is very useful. And now they offer some AI components to help you create that particular thing you’re envisioning in your head.

You can type a whole string of words into their search fields and Canva will deliver you what it thinks you’re looking for. So “pink Instagram post to thank customers for subscribing” gets you a string of ideas that Canva thinks will help you start your design (called Magic Design, and still in the BETA phase), and then a large collection of templates you can edit to your liking.

Screen captured image.

This “smart search” option exists for any searching you do inside the Canva system – looking for individual images, design elements, or templates is easier now that they have integrated this AI-style technology.

Best AI tools to use as a business

Besides the above suggestions (that I use personally), there are a LOT of ways AI can be useful to business owners. But keep in mind that plagiarism is a big no-no, and AI isn’t able to vet sources, so be sure to do any research into topics you are using AI to learn more about.

ChatGPT

ChatGPT may be the first AI tool that comes to mind when we start thinking about using this new technology. Designed as a chatbot and virtual assistant ChatGPT allows users to refine or steer a conversation towards a desired length, format, style, level of detail, and language.

You can ask it to create a sample document or contract, use it to outline an article on a specific topic for a specific audience, or just start a letter to your loved ones — it’s designed to take in your prompts and output something (hopefully) close to what you’re looking for.

ChatGTP is a great tool for brainstorming, content planning, summarizing notes, and analyzing data.

Gemini

A program quite similar to ChatGPT is Gemini. Owned by Google, Gemini considers itself a super-powered research assistant. From explaining complex topics easily and clearly, to providing creative ideas and research support, Gemini is an AI chatbot that business owners can use to streamline some tasks.

Like ChatGTP, Gemini can analyze customer data, identify market trends, and even generate creative ideas for new products or services. And it can be integrated directly into Google Workspace, for businesses who use it as their online hub.

Custom Chatbots

Many websites now use AI as a first-line chat assistant. When interacting with a website, chatbot software handles online conversations and questions from customers. Programmable and instant, chatbots can free up customer service reps (or business owners, when it’s a very small business) for more involved tasks than responding to basic questions like “where are you located” or “what are your hours.”

As with any tool, the more complex, the more it costs. But basic website chatbots can be an excellent time-saver for any size business.

midsection of man working
Photo by Tranmautritam.

Through my research, I’ve learned there are untold numbers of AI tools available to anyone. Knowing how to use the tools effectively will require some trial and error — and patience. But staying current with ever-growing technology and learning how to use new tools is important in business.

Keeping ahead of (or at least in line with) the curve means you’ll continue to offer your customers and clients a great experience. And if AI tools are really here to stay – as it seems they are – then using them and understanding them will be a necessary part of moving your business forward.

But don’t forget the human touch. When you create new documents, templates, summary reviews, or even letter outlines, it’s important not to use the AI’s output as your own entirely. Perform some edits, change the language to words you actually use, and make sure it doesn’t sound like a computer put it together for you. Or hire an editor to improve and polish the content.

Have you used AI tools in your business? Tell us your favourite and why!

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