The rise of AI tools has been both promising and controversial. And it's not hard to see why. AI can help teams to manage their marketing budget more efficiently, refine their sales efforts, and tap into their data's full potential.
But are AI SaaS tools as good as they sound? Should your startup give them a try?
In today’s post, we’ll dive a little deeper into the world of AI-powered tools for startups, and answer some frequent questions.
- An overview of the current state of AI & SaaS
- AI Pros & Cons
- How to streamline your processes with AI
Throughout this article, we'll also recommend some amazing AI SaaS tools that you shouldn't miss out on.
Ready? Let’s get started!
AI & SaaS: An Overview
Nowadays, AI is mostly implemented for background processes & simple features. Those spectacular and ambitious AI tools that make all the news headlines are a minority in their niche. Basically, most AI-powered tools are using artificial intelligence to make an existing, “non-AI” product work a little better.
A simple example is Gmail’s Smart Compose feature. As you write an email, you’ll see that the platform gives you suggestions to autofill it. Smart Compose’s suggestions are unique and fully tailored to you. This AI-powered feature predicts what you’re likely to say, based on your writing style and previous emails.
But we’re only scratching the surface of what AI has to offer. For instance, data mining is another key AI use case. AI-powered data mining helps companies, governments, and other organizations to make informed decisions, faster and at scale.
But, what would be the impact of adding AI SaaS tools to your startup’s tech stack?
With leading companies like Google, Oracle & Amazon investing in AI, some startup founders are looking at the technology as a key competitive advantage. In fact, according to stats collected by Cledara:
- 80% of business leaders believe AI-powered automation can be applied to every business process
- 79% of leaders who have already implemented AI for marketing & sales report that it has had a positive impact
- The AI tools market is expected to grow by 38% in 2023
Growing startups usually adopt AI to:
- Reduce the time required to complete a task
- Facilitate multitasking
- Optimize resource allocation
- Personalize their user experience
- Analyze user behavior at scale & detect patterns
Nevertheless, as with all technologies, AI has some downsides.
AI Pros & Cons
In this section, we'll explore some of the benefits and drawbacks of implementing AI SaaS tools.
AI is great at facilitating:
- Automation & cost reduction
- CX personalization
- Informed strategic decisions
Let’s take a closer look.
Automation & Cost Reduction
Using AI, you can reduce the time your team spends on repetitive, low-value tasks. That way, AI can help you:
- Make the most of your current team
- Prevent over hiring
- Keep your team members focused on essential processes
But, what type of AI tool can help you achieve that? For instance, an AI-powered chatbot.
Many startups implement AI chatbots to answer common user questions. When the chatbot is no longer able to provide an answer, it refers the customer to an agent. As a result, the customer support team can shift its focus from answering basic inquiries to providing specialized assistance.
Another example is data entry bots. AI tools can be integrated into company systems and used to keep databases updated. How? By extracting data from reports, business apps, customer interactions, and more. This is especially useful for HR, customer service, and sales.
For instance, companies can use AI to keep track of:
- Logistics data (e.g: inventory, deliveries, and shipments)
- Payroll, PTO, and employees’ personal information
- CRM data (e.g: purchases and customer information)
AI’s positive impact on startups’ processes goes beyond just support and data management. AI is also a game-changer for developers. Modern development teams rely on AI-powered tools for fast, automated testing. This type of testing can cover many use cases and potential issues in a way that’s faster and more cost-efficient than human testing.
With AI testing, developers can ship better experiences, faster than ever.
It’s widely known that customers are more likely to engage with companies that offer a personalized experience. Why? Simple, everyone likes to feel special and seen. And users are already being bombarded with tons of irrelevant information on a daily basis. So a personalized experience always feels refreshing.
AI-powered tools learn from user interactions and preferences, to help you deliver a more competitive experience. And the best part is that there are AI SaaS tools out there that help teams to implement personalization with minimum developer involvement.
This is usually the case for:
- AI-powered site search tools that interpret users’ intent to help them find truly relevant content and products
- AI-powered content & product recommendation tools
AI Helps Teams to Make Informed Strategic Decisions
AI isn't just useful for personalizing your UX according to a user's individual preferences or engagement history. You can also use AI to recognize patterns across your entire user base and make predictions.
For instance, let's say you run a SaaS company. You could use AI to detect the type of behavior your users show before they cancel their subscription. That way, you can design and automate touchpoints to prevent churn.
We already know that AI can help you transform your user experience, operations, and strategy. So, let’s take a look at what could go wrong.
It’s worth mentioning that:
- Automation can be counterproductive for some processes
- There’s a lot of hype around AI tools, so it can be hard to find truly valuable products
- Algorithms can easily become biased, leading to negative experiences or misinformed decisions
Let’s dive deeper.
Automation Can Be Counterproductive
In some cases, automation can actually frustrate your customers. Chatbots are a good example. Oftentimes, chatbots are not properly optimized to give personalized answers and end up delivering endless loops of generic messages that annoy the customer. Plus, some chatbots make it difficult to actually connect with a human agent when necessary.
Not All “AI” SaaS Tools Are Actually AI-Powered
Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic for a couple of years. And the launch of GTP-3 and ChatGTP brought more eyeballs to the AI space than ever. But most experts agree on one thing: While there’s a lot of hype around AI, it isn’t a tool for everyone.
According to Usman Shuja, general manager of connected buildings for Honeywell:
“While it's arguably true that AI can add significant value to practically any department across any business, one of the biggest mistakes a business can make is to implement AI for the sake of implementing AI, without a clear understanding of the business value they hope to achieve."
Plus, multiple SaaS companies out there claim their tools are AI-powered, but all they do is basic data analysis.
AI is more complex than that. As AI systems analyze more data, they become smarter and more autonomous. Many SaaS companies trying to enter the AI space simply work with data, but their product doesn’t get smarter over time. So, most certainly, they won’t reach the same level of autonomy as a proper AI SaaS tool.
Algorithms Can Easily Become Biased
While well-intentioned teams aspire to write “neutral” algorithms, all algorithms are biased. Even though large data sets can maximize accuracy, it's almost impossible to have enough data to replicate real-world scenarios.
At the end of the day, AI’s intelligence is determined by the data it receives. The bigger the data set, the more “intelligent” the tool will be. Thus, a lack of information can easily create bias. Plus, let’s not overlook that data can be easily manipulated.
How to Streamline Your Startup’s Processes with AI (+18 Tool Recommendations)
We’ve already taken a look at the pros and cons of implementing AI tools at your startup. In this section, we’ll take a deeper look at AI use cases across 5 key business areas:
- Data management
- Customer service
- Human resources
- Sales & marketing
- Finance & accounting
We’ll also share tool recommendations for each category.
Let’s get started!
AI for Data Management
AI can help you to:
- Gather unstructured data from images, PDFs, and handwritten documents
- Automate data entry
- Update and sync data across platforms
- Visualize trends across large datasets
- Preserve data hygiene
- Derive actionable insights from data
If you’re interested in AI SaaS tools for data management, check out:
- Tellius, an AI-powered data management platform that costs 50% less than the average enterprise-grade solution.
- Ocrolus, a platform that automates data processing across a wide variety of document formats, and detects potential document tampering.
- Kyndi, a natural language processing tool that makes it fast and easy to find information in large databases.
AI for Customer Service
When it comes to customer service, AI can be used to:
- Optimize customer support with conversational AI
- Onboard new customers
- Gather and verify customer information
- Turn customer service performance data into actionable insights
- Automate ticket creation and assign tickets
Looking for AI-powered customer service tools? You may want to try:
- Forethought, a platform streamlines support tickets’ entire life cycles.
- Solvvy, an AI-powered customer support chatbot maintained by the Zoom team.
- Yosh.ai, a chatbot with voice support.
AI for Human Resources
Human resources teams can use AI to streamline:
- Staff onboarding & offboarding
AI can help optimize and simplify the recruiting process, by:
- Analyzing recruitment websites for potential candidates
- Managing applications and sorting through them
- Spotting applicants that meet the selection criteria
- Sending emails to the candidates
- Collecting information about skills, training, and previous experience automatically
Many believe that AI helps to identify candidates that would have been overlooked with a more traditional and manual approach. Nevertheless, AI recruiting tools are most useful for entry-level jobs and under-pressure markets. It’s fair to mention that the tech may appear particularly limited when recruiting for unconventional or highly-demanding roles.
Staff Onboarding & Offboarding
Employee onboarding can be a tedious process. However, it’s key to make sure all new team members have a smooth and gratifying experience.
AI SaaS tools can help you to:
- Coordinate onboarding tasks across departments
- Provide new hires with credentials for the company's tools
- Automatically granting access to documents and software in accordance with the new employees’ role
- Answering frequently asked questions
Similarly, AI can be useful for the offboarding process. You can use AI tools to:
- Gather exit surveys and detect trends
- Create exit documentation
- Revoke access to company systems
- Process final payments
Payroll processing tends to be error-prone and repetitive. So you might want to seriously consider automating it through AI.
AI-powered payroll tools can help you:
- Track clock-in and clock-out times
- Calculate commissions and benefits
- Record overtime
- Create payroll reports
- File taxes
Looking for AI SaaS tools to enhance your HR department? We recommend checking out:
- TurboHire, an AI-powered automation tool for the entire recruiting process.
- Capacity, a team onboarding, training & benefits management tool,
- Levity, a workflow automation tool with incredibly accessible data filtering features.
AI for Sales
Sales is a multifaceted process. And data can enhance every aspect of it. The best AI sales tools help your team to make sense of your data in order to:
- Optimize prices
- Identify and score sales prospects
- Scale your revenue operations
Bots can help you determine the best price for your products. How? By analyzing factors such as:
- Competitors’ pricing
- Market trends
- Customer data, such as spending habits or demographics
- Demand and supply changes
Identify & Prioritize Sales Prospects
With AI, sales departments can generate forecasts and make decisions that align with their sales quotas and goals.
AI can be useful to:
- Detect potential customers
- Find and generate opportunities for upselling and cross-selling
- Determine the best sales approach for high-value leads
- Score leads, based on accurate information
Scale Your Revenue Operations
AI-powered tools can help you to elevate your revenue operations by:
- Tracking performance trends across your sales team
- Detecting opportunities for coaching & improvement
- Allowing you to replicate your best representatives’ workflow, automatically
Looking for an AI SaaS solution to scale your startup’s sales efforts? We recommend exploring:
- Chorus, an AI-powered tool that helps revenue teams to centralize their customer calls and close more deals.
- Gong, a revenue intelligence platform that gives sales leaders full visibility into their team’s performance.
- Affinity, a CRM with amazing data automation features.
- Seamless.ai, a smart prospecting tool for B2B teams.
AI for Marketing
When it comes to marketing, AI can help you streamline:
- Ad bidding & optimization
- Lead nurturing
- Content operations
Ad Bidding & Optimization
There are some AI tools that can help you optimize your ad bidding and maximize your investment. These platforms are capable of:
- Detecting underperforming ads and stopping those campaigns before they burn through your budget
- Creating optimized copy, automatically
- Managing and fine-tuning A/B tests
Another great use case for AI in marketing is lead nurturing. With an AI-powered lead nurturing process, you could be able to:
- Engage users with custom content, at the right time
- Connect with your leads based on how they interact with your platform
- Automatically adapt your nurturing workflow to your lead’s profile, guided by previous accounts
AI copywriters are probably the most popular type of AI tool out there. Some content marketers use AI copywriters to produce material at scale. But, as of this writing, most AI outputs are repetitive and superficial.
So, at this point, we recommend only using AI tools to:
- Write content outlines
- Refine human outputs
- Guarantee style consistency through personalized recommendations and co-writing
- Make your content SEO-friendly
In other words, GPT3 technology can truly enhance human work, and incredibly streamline the writing process.
Looking to scale your marketing with AI? Check out these tools:
- Kare, a data gathering and automation platform that “wraps” around a website to detect underperforming funnels, suggests conversion rate optimization strategies, and prevents churn.
- Braxy, a 365° Google Ads automation platform that ideates, researches, launches & optimizes campaigns.
- Tomi, a lead scoring platform that uses first-party data to help optimize ad spending and prioritize accounts.
AI for Finance & Accounting
Especially as your startup grows, managing and leveraging your financial data can be challenging. Luckily, AI is great at:
- Tracking vendor data
- Tracking transactions
- Cross-checking invoices against purchase orders
- Checking fraudulent documents
- Generating invoices
- Keeping track of DSO
- Processing payments
- Reconciling balance sheets
On the other hand, AI tools can help you filter, organize and compile data.
If you’re looking for an AI finance tool, we recommend checking out:
- Zeni, an AI-powered bookkeeping tool for startups
- Vic.ai, a platform that simplifies invoice processing and approval
Manage Your AI-Powered Tech Stack with Cledara
There’s no doubt that the right AI tools can help you streamline your operations and get more value out of your data. However, AI isn’t the best option for all your processes, and it does require human oversight.
Automating repetitive tasks with AI SaaS tools is a great way to cut unnecessary spending. But, as you adopt new tools, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay on top of your software stack.
Are you aware of how many software subscriptions your company is paying for? Are they truly making a difference? Here’s where Cledara can help.
Cledara helps you keep track of all your subscriptions and bring transparency to your software stack.
With Cledara you will:
- Get a centralized view of all your software subscriptions
- Analyze tool usage trends
- Get full control of your software spending with virtual cards
- Manage team access
- Avoid shadow tech while remaining compliant with ISO27001 and SOC 2
Interested in how Cledara can simplify your SaaS management? Book a demo today.