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LearnPublished July 8, 2024

How to Drive Operational Efficiency with AI Tools for Business

Learn how you can get customized business AI tools that improve core workflows and drive efficiency for your organization

Wren Noble

Wren Noble

Head of Content

How to Drive Operational Efficiency with AI Tools for Business

It's easy to get caught up in the hype of AI business tools. Writing assistants like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Jasper and text-to-image generators like Dalle-E and Midjourney have become the poster children for AI adoption, while every SaaS company has seemingly integrated generative AI into its products. Yet AI-generated content creation barely scratches the surface of what's possible with natural language processing, machine learning, large language models (LLMs), and the many other subsets of AI at our disposal.

As fun as it is to generate images of our cats as Lord of the Rings characters (very), the real potential of AI technology is both more mundane and much more powerful. AI has the power to process large amounts of information very quickly, identify patterns, and draw conclusions that we can use to inform our work. In business, it has the power to fundamentally change how we approach problems, make decisions, and create value. 

Think about it. What if you had a system that could predict customers’ needs before they even knew they had them? Or one that could spot key inefficiencies in your supply chain that have been hiding in plain sight for years? Or an AI chatbot assistant that could summarize complex data and generate marketing strategies for upcoming campaigns? These are real possibilities that forward-thinking companies, from small businesses to startups and large enterprises, are already exploring and implementing.

The key is identifying the right opportunities to integrate AI within your processes, finding the sweet spot where human intuition and machine intelligence complement each other, and freeing up your team's time and brain power to focus on more meaningful activities.

As business leaders, we need to shift our thinking. Instead of asking, "How can we use AI to do what we're already doing, but faster?" we should be asking, "What could we achieve if we reimagined our processes with AI from the ground up?"

In this article, we'll cut through the hype and get practical, showing you how to identify processes that can benefit most from AI and how no code platforms like Glide can help you improve your businesses’ core workflows and create AI business tools that your team members and customers love.

How to build AI tools for business without coding 

Before we jump into AI, let’s first briefly discuss the power of no code platforms. No code tools like Glide allow users to create applications using visual interfaces and pre-built components, eliminating the need for traditional programming skills.

Specifically, Glide is a powerful no code platform that enables companies to build user-friendly, professional business software without writing a single line of code. By transforming data from various sources, including Google Sheets, Airtable, and SQL databases, into mobile and web applications, Glide makes app development accessible to everyone, regardless of technical expertise. With the growing enthusiasm for AI sparked by tools like ChatGPT, businesses are now looking for ways to incorporate AI into their operations. AI combined with no-code platforms allows businesses to take charge of their own AI tools by customizing, building, or adding AI features to their business applications. Now, companies can use AI to drive innovation across all areas of their operations by building custom tools tailored specifically to their existing processes and needs.

With Glide AI, you can build and incorporate AI features directly into your applications via the Data Editor, Layout Editor, or Action Editor. Whether you need to automate data entry, perform complex calculations, or generate natural language summaries, Glide AI strips away the complexity of building apps with AI, with no code required.  Glide AI also allows you to extract information from images like receipts, process them to convert currencies or categorize expenses, generate high-quality AI content from your data, transcribe audio recordings, and transform unstructured data into structured formats using Text to Date, Number, Boolean, or Choice functions. All this is achieved without the hassle of dealing with APIs or juggling different external tools. Now, integrating AI into your applications is as simple as adding a column to a table. There’s no need to handle prompts, select models, manage complex APIs, or optimize cost and performance through caching—we manage all that for you.

Efficient caching

Our system caches AI prompt results at the app level so that each unique prompt is processed only once, regardless of user count. The cached result is then shared across all users, improving both efficiency and performance.

Model selection

Glide AI automatically selects the most suitable AI model based on the chosen use case. No provision, authentication, or migration needed. Currently, we use OpenAI for text-related use cases, Azure for detecting images and extracting texts, and Google Cloud for other app functionalities. 

Automatic updates

Apps built with Glide AI benefit from ongoing improvements to our backend. As we integrate new models and capabilities, these enhancements are automatically reflected in your app's functionality.

How to identify business processes that can benefit from AI implementation 

Your intimate knowledge of your business processes is a valuable asset when considering where AI can make the most impact. But before jumping into implementation, it's important to first identify the areas where AI can provide the greatest benefits.

Look for repetitive tasks 

Start with the mundane and repetitive. Data entry, document processing, and routine customer inquiries are prime candidates for AI automation. These tasks often consume valuable time without adding significant value. AI can handle these efficiently, freeing up your team for more strategic work.

Analyze data-heavy processes

Consider areas where you're dealing with large volumes of data. Sales forecasting, inventory management, and market trend analysis often fall into this category. AI excels at finding patterns and making predictions from complex datasets, potentially uncovering insights that might otherwise be missed.

Identify error-prone areas 

Think about processes where human error is a frequent issue. Quality control in manufacturing, compliance checks in finance, or proofreading in publishing are examples where AI's consistency can significantly reduce errors and improve outcomes.

Evaluate customer interactions 

Review your customer touchpoints. AI can enhance customer experiences through personalized recommendations, 24/7 chatbot support, or sentiment analysis of customer feedback. These applications can improve satisfaction and loyalty while reducing the load on your customer service team.

Consider decision-making processes 

Look at areas where decisions are made based on multiple factors. This could be anything from pricing strategies to resource allocation. AI can process numerous variables quickly, providing data-driven recommendations to support better decision-making.

Assess time-sensitive operations 

Identify processes where speed is crucial. In logistics, for instance, AI can optimize routes in real-time. In project management, AI can identify bottlenecks in real-time and suggest adjustments to keep projects on track. The quicker reaction times of AI systems can be a game-changer in time-sensitive scenarios.

Pinpoint scaling challenges 

Consider processes that become bottlenecks as your business grows. AI solutions often scale more easily than human-dependent processes, making them valuable for businesses anticipating growth or dealing with fluctuating demands.

As you evaluate each process, consider the potential return on investment. Where would AI save the most time or money? Where could it open new opportunities or significantly improve quality? Prioritize these high-impact areas for your initial AI initiatives.

Remember, the goal isn't to replace human workers but to augment their capabilities. Look for opportunities where AI can handle the routine, allowing your team to focus on tasks that require creativity, emotional intelligence, and strategic thinking.

By systematically examining your operations through these lenses, you'll likely uncover numerous opportunities to use AI. Start small, measure the results, and use these insights to guide your broader AI integration strategy.

Building the best AI tools for your business

From inventory management apps and field operations tools to customer support software and investor reporting platforms, here’s how some businesses are using Glide AI-powered apps to transform their core workflows without writing a single line of code:

Improve operational speed and accuracy with an AI-powered inventory management app

By integrating AI features into traditional inventory management apps, companies can transform their systems into powerful tools that efficiently monitor stock levels, manage orders accurately, and generate valuable insights.

A great example of a company that executed this well is Cheese Meets Wine.

As the owner of one of Hong Kong's largest wine importers, Marco Volpato was well aware of the limitations of tracking orders with spreadsheets. Seeking a more efficient solution, Marco turned to Glide to create an AI-powered inventory management app, enabling his team to easily track inventory across multiple warehouses, organize orders into various shipments, and monitor sales orders in real-time. By integrating OpenAI, the system can also generate detailed wine descriptions, enabling staff to make informed wine recommendations based on current stock levels and customer order history, improving customer service and sales numbers. 

Improve field operations workflows with AI-powered notetaking 

Construction, energy, and industrial companies often face significant challenges when it comes to recording detailed notes and maintaining communication in the field, especially in harsh environments like freezing deserts or remote locations. Typing out notes or manually documenting observations can be impractical and time-consuming, yet accurate record-keeping and communication are crucial for operational efficiency and safety.

AI-powered note-taking apps address these issues by enabling voice-to-text features, allowing field teams to record notes hands-free without removing protective gear. As part of CarboNet’s suite of enterprise-grade Glide apps,  Bill Schonbrun, CarboNet’s COO and Co-founder, used Glide AI to implement a voice-to-text feature, allowing field teams in the West Texas desert to record notes without removing their gloves. With AI-powered transcription, these notes can then be summarized into bullet points or reformatted into customer-friendly messages and adjusted for tone. 

According to Bill, “This industry is moving towards automation, and Glide will be a huge part of enabling that. Automation and communication, via Glide, will be the killer parts of this app that delight customers.”

Build an intelligent help desk to enhance customer support

Help desks are critical for managing customer support, HR inquiries, and operational issues across various business functions. However, given the specific and sometimes repetitive nature of these tasks, the work is often manual and time-consuming. Integrating AI into these systems can significantly boost their efficiency, making them more responsive and effective.

This demo showcases how AI can be used to process and analyze issues reported by employees or tenants. By incorporating AI columns into the data set, the app can make intelligent decisions based on the reported information, simplifying the ticket management process.

Another notable example is Glide Expert Robert Petitto’s AI-powered IT Help Desk companion app, combining private data about company devices, such as computers and WiFi networks, with AI-driven prompt completion. The result is a self-service tool that enables employees to troubleshoot their IT issues with AI-generated answers, significantly reducing the IT team’s workload and freeing them from manually addressing each support ticket.

Bolster your supply chain and distribution with an AI logistics app 

Logistics apps are essential for managing the intricate network of transportation and supply chain processes, handling tasks such as tracking shipments, managing inventories, and coordinating routes. 

The introduction of AI can optimize routing, predict delays, automate administrative tasks, and provide real-time data analytics, transforming logistics operations from merely functional into highly efficient and intelligent systems.

Recognizing this opportunity, Adam Wingfield of Innovative Logistics Group (ILG), developed iDispatchHub, an AI-powered dispatching software helping drivers complete their work more efficiently.

Adam explained that each day dispatchers search for freight for their trucks to haul. Once they find the freight, they upload a rate confirmation document into the Hub. The AI then reads the document, fills out the entire form, dispatches the truck, and automatically alerts all parties involved in the transportation process. When the delivery is completed, the driver takes a quick picture and uploads it to the Hub, which finalizes the delivery and sends the proof of delivery to all parties.

To date, the app has helped over 1,000 previously underserved businesses and made over $1 million in sales for ILG.

Simplify financial reporting with an AI-powered investor portal 

Financial reporting to partner banks and investors can be incredibly complex, often involving manual work to aggregate data, build dashboards, and share monthly insights. 

Investor portals can address these challenges by integrating multiple data sources, such as MySQL and Glide Big Tables, into a single platform. These portals provide a single source of truth, complete with intuitive charts and dashboards, delivering accurate, real-time data specific to investors' needs. And with the integration of AI, they can automatically generate month-over-month performance summaries, distilling various financial indicators into easy-to-read paragraphs. For companies, Centerline Business Services, these portals have changed the way they operate and communicate with investors. 

Centerline Business Services built such an AI-powered investor portal using Glide. This portal has transformed their financial reporting process, reducing manual effort and ensuring timely updates for investors. 

Centerline President Trey Heath Heath notes, "Before Glide AI, a financial analyst would write three paragraphs for every investment update. Then, we would need to manually email hundreds of investors a PDF of that month's financial performance. Glide has automated this entire process for us.” The investor portal is just one of over 50 Glide apps in production at Centerline, with the team looking at integrating AI into its CRMs, hiring tools, and training tools.

 

Empowering your team with AI business tools

As AI continues to advance, its impact on business operations will only grow stronger. By improving workflows, AI not only boosts efficiency but also empowers teams to focus on what they do best: strategic thinking, creative problem-solving, enhancing user experience, and building deeper, more meaningful relationships. To spark creativity in areas of how to integrate AI into your existing processes, you can use our AI app generator to develop ideas specifically tailored to your business. Additionally, you can learn through hands-on practice with our comprehensive tutorials or explore AI features in action with this AI Playground template.

For those seeking more resources, Glide offers AI-building workshops, detailed documentation, and a rich template library. You can also join our growing Glide Community, where you can connect with other users and see how they are using AI in their own applications.

If you’re ready to explore the possibilities of no code and AI, get started with Glide.

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Wren Noble

Wren Noble

Leading Glide’s content, including The Column and Video Content, Wren’s expertise lies in no code technology, business tools, and software marketing. She is a writer, artist, and documentary photographer based in NYC.

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