Artificial intelligence is the hottest, most talked-about branch of technology today. Companies of all sizes and industries are either developing these systems, using them or both.

Some form of business-ready AI has been around for years, with advanced analytics powered by machine learning acting as early forerunners of the movement. So it’s worth asking why companies that might have missed out on that wave are now hopping onto this one.

The answer comes down to a few factors, namely expanding use cases and accessibility. Today’s AI-powered tools, especially in the fast-growing generative AI space, are flexible, usable for an enormous number of purposes and accept commands in natural language. They’re also available as a service, meaning individual companies don’t have to buy massive servers if they want to run AI tools.

So, with this wave of hype, excitement and mass adoption, it’s important to ask where your business can climb aboard. Which AI tech will deliver real value in the here and now, even if your company is small or operates in a niche market? We’ve scoped out the industry and come back with some compelling suggestions.

How Are Businesses Using AI Tools?

Before highlighting the specific AI tools companies are adding to their workflows, it’s useful to point out how they’re using these systems.

Impactful use cases fall into a few categories:

  • Conceptualization and iteration: Brainstorming is easier when there’s a digital brain available as part of the team. Given a simple prompt, a generative AI algorithm can turn out variations on the concept or recommend paths for the project to take, making for a quicker and more decisive planning process.
  • Content generation: Once there’s a valid idea for a creative project, a generative AI tool can help turn it into a finished project. This might mean conjuring up an outline or a rough draft based on a prompt or adding a layer of polish to text, imagery or video. Today’s workflows often involve humans and algorithms working side by side to make more content faster.
  • Research, analytics and prediction: Analysis is a classic AI use case, one that’s been popular since before the GPT boom of the past few years. Machine learning algorithms can chew through large amounts of information and turn out in-depth analysis, periodically improving their own performance.
  • Customer service: AI chatbot use in the customer care space is another longstanding form of business AI deployment, with these tools providing answers to simple questions or helping representatives field more in-depth queries. Adding AI to the customer experience workflow is a way to get more productivity out of a small team.
  • Process automation: Repetitive manual processes are everywhere in business, taking time and effort away from more value-adding work. These activities, whether simple like filling out a spreadsheet or more complex like writing boilerplate code in an application, are good candidates for automation via ever-more-capable AI algorithms.

In today’s era of accessible, affordable AI tools, small companies can make especially good use of the technology. With a limited staff and budget, a small or medium business may feel constrained relative to its larger peers. A dose of AI can help the team be more productive, helping a startup punch above its weight.

10 Top AI Tools for Small Business Use

So, what are the best AI tools? In a fast-moving space, it’s tricky to find a definitive list of the most powerful and popular solutions at any moment.

In the spirit of the AI moment, we’ve gone to the experts to draw up this list. By which I mean we’ve asked automated tools to tell us which automated tools are the best. The following list brings together the top search-friendly AI tools according to MarketMuse, with helpful recommendations by ChatGPT to bring the list up to 10.

These leading solutions include:

  1. ChatGPT

ChatGPT is the tool that sparked the generative AI craze, at least in terms of public recognition. Its power comes from its open-ended ability to answer an endless variety of questions and requests, with both the queries and answers in natural language. The recent GPT4 release integrates some of OpenAI’s other capabilities, including more focused research and prompt-based image generation.

  1. Notion AI

Notion, a suite of workspace tools, now includes AI features that can help employees stay productive in their work. It can give writing suggestions, help users search their companies’ databases, generate summaries and more. Part of the AI tech’s value proposition comes from the fact that it’s directly integrated with the Notion suite rather than being a separate product.

  1. Jasper AI

Jasper’s “copilot” is specifically designed to be an AI marketing tool. It offers a four-piece suite that helps companies access their internal knowledge, promote collaborative project management, create content and draw on analytics. The aspects of the solution are all focused on making various processes more automated and effective.

  1. Bing AI

Microsoft operates a variety of AI tools and also has access to ChatGPT and related solutions through a close relationship with OpenAI. Its Bing AI integration involves combining its search engine with both its Copilot assistant solution and ChatGPT 4. Copilot also interacts natively with other technology like the Microsoft 365 office software suite.

  1. Zia by Zoho CRM

Zia is an AI companion solution available as part of the Zoho customer resource management platform. One of the major roles of Zia is to interpret data, digging through quarterly results for trends and helping salespeople organize their prospect pipelines. Zia can also perform sentiment analysis and is accessible via text or even voice call.

  1. Google Analytics AI tools

Google Analytics is the industry standard for analyzing customer data, seeing widespread adoption by marketing teams. The suite now includes AI features based on Google’s in-house technology which are designed to provide predictive analytics results and provide users with insights about their audiences.

  1. Grammarly

Grammarly is a writing and editing suite designed to provide real-time feedback for writers that will help them create content that will get their point across. It accomplishes this by providing suggestions about tone in addition to more standard spelling, grammar and punctuation suggestions. It integrates with other tools like Google Docs and, full disclosure, was used during the creation of this article. It didn’t even mind that I wrote the previous sentence in a passive voice.

  1. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing suites, and it now supports AI-driven content generation directly within its platform. The Mailchimp AI features include generative tools designed to help users craft their email content, as well as analytics solutions by the platform’s parent company, Intuit.

  1. Xero

Accounting is one area where AI integration can help companies become faster and more decisive by replacing manual work with automated processes. The tech platform Xero has integrated AI into a variety of tasks, including scanning, coding, reconciliation, analytics and accounts payable. The AI features are designed to augment the capabilities of human accountants and bookkeepers.

  1. Hootsuite

Social media marketing toolset HootSuite offers an AI assistant solution called OwlyWriter AI. It can generate concepts for social media posts specific to each platform, and allows users to generate captions for their work with minimal manual effort. It’s designed to be user-friendly and adapt to the best practices that define various social networks.

What’s Next for AI in Business?

The best AI tool for your business will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish — and today’s best practices may be outdated tomorrow. One of the major concepts to keep in mind around AI use is that processes and capabilities are constantly evolving.

There is also potential that current AI methods will change for reasons that have nothing to do with computing power: many of the first wave of popular generative AI models have been trained on swaths of copyrighted content. If courts find this kind of data ingestion is illegal, there could be ripple effects across the way AI works.

Your policies can be as important as your tech when it comes to the successful and effective use of AI in business. You should set boundaries about how your AI tools access your company’s data, as well as which parts of your processes are and aren’t acceptable for AI. This helps you minimize the chance of problems involving intellectual property issues, data leakage or mistakes due to generative AI tools producing wrong answers to queries.

How Will Your Business Adopt AI?

Whether you’re most interested in classic use cases like predictive analytics or machine learning or are ready to introduce generative AI into your creative workflow, it’s likely your business currently has (or soon will have) a case to use AI.

Your overall competitiveness as a business owner today can depend on how well you meet the moment. This means not just using the first AI chatbot or AI marketing tool that crosses your path but doing your homework, investigating the options, and finding an offering that really works with your processes and business model.

Your competitors are surely also interested in learning how to use AI, but that doesn’t mean you should panic — if you find the right technologies for you and integrate them well, the results will follow.