How to start using AI in your business

AI looks set to transform how we work and how businesses are run, writes John Cradden. How should your staff be using AI to get tasks completed faster and what platforms and prompts work best?

There’s been a fair bit of scaremongering about the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) is set to have on just about everything, but most businesses are already investing huge amounts of time and money trying to find out the best way to harness its potential.

However, given how AI as a sector is practically just out of the starting blocks, it’s not surprising that some firms are struggling with this.

“A good place to start is to look at what AI tools are readily available now within your existing systems and departments to help you transform your business”

A recent survey of 122 project managers carried out by the Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI) found that in out of three in four cases, AI is having a significant positive impact, but with mixed views on efficiency and cost. Just 41% said that AI is improving project completion rates and delivery times, while the average cost of failed projects in the last year was over €700,000.

Another issue is skills, with just one in four Irish business leaders saying they have the skills within their organisations to exploit the potential of AI, according to the Irish Management Institute. The organisation’s recent whitepaper on AI suggests that a strong, top-down leadership approach is important to creating a culture of innovation throughout an organisation that encourages staff to use and experiment with AI tools.

But that also means helping leaders step up their own skills and understanding of the technology.

A good place to start is to look at what AI tools are readily available now within your existing systems and departments to help you transform your business. How should your staff be using these tools to get tasks done faster or improve efficiency?

Customer Relationship Management

Thanks to cloud computing, CRM systems like Salesforce and HubSpot now incorporate AI technology to automate the more routine tasks like data entry, follow-up emails and scheduling, as well as personalising customer experiences and sales by analysing previous interactions and purchasing patterns. At a higher level it can do heavy-duty sales forecasting, helping businesses to allocate resources more effectively and optimise their strategic planning.


There’s a lot of potential to automate many aspects of digital marketing using AI tools without increasing manpower, some of which can found in well-known brands such as Hootsuite and Mailchimp or else as add-ons. For example, Google Trends for audience research, or ChatGPT for generating content for blogs, social media posts and email campaigns, and Sprout Social for monitoring what competitors are doing. Sometimes a single, well-chosen digital marketing platform can manage and optimise your entire marketing campaigns, including the all-important performance data analysis that would allow you to adapt your strategy as you go along.

Financial management

AI tools are already embedded in well-known tools like Quickbooks and Sage to automate functions like bookkeeping or ledger entries and reconciliations, and improve expense management by identifying spending patterns and detecting anomalies.

Customer service

The use of AI chatbots and virtual assistants to enhance customer service is probably one of the more talked-about applications, and can be found in many well-known platforms like Intercom and Zendesk.

Thanks to Natural Language Processing, this technology is well capable of handling basic and straightforward customer queries around the clock, providing instant responses and freeing human staff to tackle the more complex issues. The challenge here is to find the right balance between automation and personalisation with chatbots to provide as much of the human touch as possible.

HR and recruitment

There are a number of HR processes that would potentially benefit from AI input, not least in recruitment, where various tools are available from the likes of Workday, Oracle and Personio  that can handle time and resource-heavy tasks such as scanning CVs, matching candidates to job descriptions and even manage the initial correspondence with them. Internally, there are solutions that can analyse employee feedback and engagement data to identify areas for improvement.

Data analytics

There’s a lot of AI now driving the field of data analytics, which is one area that many businesses  – particularly digital ones – regard as crucial for informing strategic decision-making. Suitable tools from the likes of Microsoft, IBM and, of course, Google can handle tasks that would once have required a data science team, including real-time and predictive analytics.

Project management

There’s lot of potential to automate various elements of project management, including automating task assignments and reminders, and analysing project data to better optimise your use of resources. Look out for solutions from the likes of Trello,, Asana and Project Pal AI, or update your Microsoft suite with MS Project.


Responding to threats in real-time can be challenging for time-poor IT staff, so tools that can automatically isolate systems that have been compromised will help limit the impact and spread of any damage. Similarly, even the most vigilant human analysts can miss threats, so AI tools that can monitor network traffic and detect unusual activity will be a boon.

Online meetings

Virtual collaboration software like Teams and Zoom have benefited massively from AI enhancements. Probably the best examples are the real-time transcription and translation abilities now on tap, but also the automation of the admin around setting up meetings and agendas, and even summarising meeting notes using the aforementioned real-time transcription/translation tools.

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John Cradden
John Cradden is an experienced business and personal finance journalist and financial wellbeing content designer.