Artificial Intelligence certainly isn’t the death knell many predicted. If harnessed correctly, it’s much more a tool than a threat.

Below I’ve outlined FREE (mostly, at least in the beginning) AI tools which I’ve tested and recommend to small businesses.

1. Automation of Repetitive Tasks.

AI can automate routine and time-consuming tasks, such as data entry, email responses, and appointment scheduling. This allows employees to focus on more strategic and creative aspects of their work, increasing overall productivity.

  1. IFTTT (If This Then That): IFTTT is a user-friendly automation tool that allows you to create conditional statements, known as applets, to automate tasks across various applications and devices. It supports a wide range of platforms, making it versatile for automating different types of tasks.
  2. Zapier: Similar to IFTTT, Zapier automates workflows by connecting different apps and services. It enables you to create automated workflows (Zaps) that trigger actions in response to specific events, reducing the need for manual intervention in repetitive processes.
  3. Microsoft Power Automate: Formerly known as Microsoft Flow, Power Automate is a tool that integrates with various Microsoft and third-party applications. It allows users to create automated workflows to streamline processes and tasks. While there is a paid version, a free plan with limited features is available.
  4. AutoHotKey: AutoHotKey is a scripting language for Windows that allows users to create custom macros and automate various tasks, including keystrokes, mouse movements, and more. It’s especially useful for automating repetitive actions on your computer.
  5. Google Apps Script: Google Apps Script is a scripting language based on JavaScript that enables automation and custom functions within Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) applications such as Google Sheets, Docs, and Gmail. It’s a powerful tool for creating custom automations tailored to your specific needs.
  6. Tasker (for Android): Tasker is an automation app for Android devices. It allows users to create automated tasks based on various triggers, such as time, location, or events. While the app itself is not free, there is a trial version available for testing.
2. Customer Service Enhancement.

Several free AI tools can enhance customer service by providing automated support and improving the overall customer experience. Here are some examples:

  1. Chatbot Platforms:
    • Dialogflow by Google Cloud: Dialogflow allows you to create chatbots and conversational interfaces using natural language processing. It integrates with various messaging platforms and can be used for both text and voice-based interactions.
    • Microsoft Bot Framework: Microsoft Bot Framework enables the creation of intelligent bots that can communicate with users across multiple channels. It supports natural language processing and can be integrated into applications, websites, and messaging platforms.
  2. MobileMonkey: MobileMonkey is a chatbot platform that integrates with Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps. It allows you to create chatbots for lead generation, customer support, and marketing purposes. While it offers a free plan, more advanced features are available with paid plans.
  3. Tars: Tars is a chatbot platform that focuses on creating conversational landing pages. It enables businesses to build AI-powered chatbots without coding skills. The platform offers a free trial for users to explore its capabilities.
  4. Botpress: Botpress is an open-source chatbot platform that allows you to build, deploy, and manage chatbots. It provides a visual interface for creating conversational workflows and supports integrations with various messaging platforms.
  5. Flow XO: Flow XO is a platform for building chatbots and workflows for messaging apps. It supports integrations with platforms like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and Telegram. While there is a free plan with limitations, it offers more features in its paid plans.
  6. ChatGPT by OpenAI: While not a traditional chatbot platform, OpenAI’s ChatGPT can be used to create conversational interfaces. Developers can integrate the OpenAI API to build custom chatbots and virtual assistants.
  7. Zoho Desk – Assistant: Zoho Desk offers a virtual assistant feature that uses AI to assist customer service agents. It provides automated responses to common customer queries, helping to reduce response times.
3. Data Analysis and Insights.

AI can analyze large sets of data quickly and derive valuable insights. Small businesses can use AI to gain a better understanding of customer behavior, market trends, and other critical factors. This information can inform business strategies and decision-making processes.

  1. Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a powerful tool for analyzing website and app performance. It provides detailed insights into user behavior, traffic sources, and conversion data, helping businesses understand how users interact with their online platforms.
  2. IBM Watson Analytics: Watson Analytics by IBM is a cloud-based analytics platform that uses AI to assist users in exploring and visualizing data. It simplifies the data analysis process by providing natural language processing and predictive analytics capabilities.
  3. Tableau Public: Tableau is a data visualization tool that allows users to create interactive and shareable dashboards. Tableau Public, the free version, enables users to connect to various data sources and create compelling visualizations to gain insights from their data.
  4. Orange: Orange is an open-source data visualization and analysis tool with a visual programming interface. It is user-friendly and suitable for users without extensive programming skills. Orange supports data mining, machine learning, and statistical analysis.
  5. RapidMiner: RapidMiner is an open-source data science platform that offers a visual workflow designer. It allows users to build, validate, and deploy predictive models without requiring extensive programming knowledge. The platform supports various machine learning algorithms.
  6. Microsoft Power BI: Power BI is a business analytics tool by Microsoft that allows users to visualize and share insights across an organization. It integrates with various data sources, and its AI capabilities enable features like natural language querying and automated insights.
  7. KNIME: KNIME is an open-source platform for data analytics, reporting, and integration. It provides a visual workflow editor for designing data analysis processes and supports machine learning, data mining, and data exploration.
  8. DataRobot: DataRobot is an automated machine learning platform that assists users in building and deploying machine learning models without requiring extensive coding skills. It streamlines the process of creating predictive models from raw data.
4. Personalized Marketing.

AI enables small businesses to create personalized marketing campaigns based on customer preferences, behaviors, and demographics. This targeted approach increases the effectiveness of marketing efforts, resulting in better engagement and higher conversion rates.

  1. Mailchimp: Mailchimp is an email marketing platform that offers a free plan with basic features. It includes AI-driven tools like Predicted Demographics, which analyzes subscriber data to predict and provide insights into customer behavior. These insights can be used to tailor email campaigns.
  2. Google Analytics: While not a dedicated marketing tool, Google Analytics provides valuable insights into user behavior on websites. It can be used to analyze customer interactions, identify trends, and inform personalized marketing strategies.
  3. Canva: Canva is a graphic design tool that offers a free plan with a wide range of templates. While not strictly an AI tool, Canva can help create visually appealing and personalized marketing materials such as social media posts, banners, and infographics.
  4. Segment: Segment is a customer data platform that allows businesses to collect, clean, and control customer data. While it offers more advanced features in paid plans, the free plan can still be useful for small businesses looking to centralize and use customer data for personalized marketing efforts.
  5. Google Optimize: Google Optimize is a website optimization tool that helps businesses deliver personalized experiences to website visitors. It allows you to run A/B tests and experiments to determine the most effective content and design for different audience segments.
  6. HubSpot Marketing Hub: HubSpot offers a free version of its Marketing Hub, which includes tools for email marketing, lead generation, and customer relationship management (CRM). While not purely AI-driven, it provides features for personalized email campaigns and lead nurturing.
  7. Tagove: Tagove offers a free live chat solution that can be integrated into websites. While not strictly an AI tool, it provides the ability to engage with website visitors in real-time, potentially leading to personalized interactions and improved customer engagement.
5. Fraud Detection and Security.

AI can enhance cybersecurity by detecting unusual patterns and potential security threats. Small businesses can employ AI algorithms to monitor transactions, identify fraudulent activities, and safeguard sensitive information, protecting both the business and its customers.

  1. Open Source Threat Intelligence Platforms:
    • MISP (Malware Information Sharing Platform & Threat Sharing): MISP is an open-source threat intelligence platform designed to improve the sharing of structured threat information. It can assist in the detection and prevention of cyber threats.
    • TheHive: TheHive is another open-source incident response and case management platform that integrates with MISP. It allows for the analysis and sharing of threat intelligence.
  2. Fail2Ban: Fail2Ban is a log-parsing application that protects Linux servers from various security threats, including brute-force attacks. While not strictly AI-based, it uses pattern matching to identify and block malicious activities.
  3. Snort: Snort is an open-source intrusion detection and prevention system (IDPS) that can be used for real-time traffic analysis and packet logging. It helps in identifying and blocking suspicious network activities.
  4. Wazuh: Wazuh is an open-source security information and event management (SIEM) tool. It offers log analysis, intrusion detection, vulnerability detection, and more. While there is a paid version, the open-source version provides valuable security features.
  5. SpamAssassin: SpamAssassin is an open-source email filtering tool that uses a variety of techniques, including artificial intelligence, to identify and filter spam emails. It helps protect against phishing and other email-based threats.
  6. ClamAV: ClamAV is an open-source antivirus engine designed for detecting trojans, viruses, malware, and other malicious threats. It’s commonly used to scan email attachments and files on web servers.
  7. OSSEC: OSSEC is an open-source host-based intrusion detection system (HIDS) that provides log analysis, file integrity checking, rootkit detection, and active response.

Which tools am I missing? Let me know if you have one to share and I’ll do my best to test it out and cover it in an upcoming post.