5 AI Apps For Business That You Should Try

There’s a lot of AI-hype going around and a countless number of products that are promising to change the world and your life with just a push of a button.

That’s all good and well, but we’ve got companies to run. So what’s really real for your business right now?

Many of these apps, in my opinion, are not ready for prime time. For example, the potential for text-to-image and text-to-video is exciting bur right now these apps are in their infancy and both the images and videos generated look like they were generated. Apps promising “productivity” and “automation” are mostly just doing what ChatGPT does either for free (version 3.5) or for a nominal fee ($20 per month for their ChatGPT Plus version).

However, there are a growing number of reliable, legitimate AI tools that can help increase productivity in your business. I’ve listed five below. Please know that there are plenty of competitors in each category and I’m using these five applications as examples for a specific business use case. Also know that some do lean on ChatGPT and who knows, with all the competition, how many of these will be around in a year? That said, I’m recommending these applications to my clients who are interested in dipping their toes into the world of AI not for fun, but for help running their businesses.

Headshot Generators

These are applications that use AI to pretty-up existing photos and make them more clear, more professional and more appropriate for business use. Apps like ProfilePicMaker can take a simple selfie and then remove or replace backgrounds, touch up your skin and even change the clothes that you’re wearing. Business owners can use the final product for their websites, social pages and other marketing materials. So can their employees. It’s less expensive than a professional photographer and it’s quicker.

Chatbot Builders

AI-based chatbot builders like Droxy.ai will create a knowledge base of information that can be searched conversationally by your employees or made available publicly on your website. For example, you can upload your entire website, any videos you’ve made for training or product demonstrations, or PDFs of spec sheets, quotes, proposals, instructions and contracts. Yes, there’s a little heavy lifting up front. But

Read more

Brookfield on path to boost earnings with fast-growing insurance arm

Open this photo in gallery:

Pedestrians and office workers walk past the Bay St. entrance to Brookfield Place in Toronto’s Financial District on July 12, 2022.Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

One of the cornerstones of Brookfield Corp.’s BN-T plan to boost its earnings over the next five years is a business that barely existed for the company three years ago: Its fast-growing insurance arm.

What started as a small business allowing pension plans to transfer risk for future liabilities, and a virtual rounding error on Brookfield’s vast balance sheet as recently as 2020, is soon expected to reach US$100-billion in assets under management, then balloon to US$250-billion by 2028.

“We have lofty ambitions,” said Sachin Shah, chief executive officer of Brookfield’s insurance arm, in an interview. “It could be a very sizable part of the overall franchise.”

The business Brookfield set out to build three years ago is designed to be sleepy and steady. Through Brookfield Reinsurance Ltd. BNRE-T, the publicly listed subsidiary that holds its insurance assets and operating companies, it mostly offers predictable income to retirees, insurance to other insurers and other types of plain-vanilla life and casualty policies.

Brookfield is deliberately keeping its exposure to property insurance small, as liabilities from severe weather events and natural disasters such as wildfires and floods have become increasingly unpredictable.

Instead, its core product is annuities with fixed interest rates – a kind of insurance that converts a lump-sum premium into a promise of regular payments with interest over a period of time.

Don’t throw out Brookfield Infrastructure with the market bath water

It is a far cry from the prestige of owning gleaming office towers in large cities, the high-stakes deal making of private equity or the global urgency to build new renewable energy sources, where Brookfield is already well established.

But the popularity of annuities has spiked, first as upheaval from the COVID-19 pandemic created a larger appetite for predictable income, and then as rising interest rates made the returns offered on the products more attractive.

In the span of a few years, insurance has become one of three pillars of Brookfield’s strategy, along with its established, US$865-billion asset-management arm and a growing private wealth business forged through its 2019 purchase of a majority stake in Oaktree Capital Group LLC.

Over the next five years, Brookfield’s insurance-solutions business is expected to account for more than a third of

Read more

A federal pandemic business loan is coming due. Some in N.S. can’t afford to pay

Small businesses in Nova Scotia are bracing for Jan. 18, the date Canadian Emergency Business Account loan repayments come due.

The federal money was given to small businesses and not-for-profits in April 2020 to help lessen the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown. The money has to be repaid by Jan. 18 in order to receive loan forgiveness of up to $20,000.

Duncan Robertson, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in Nova Scotia, told CBC’s Information Morning Halifax this week that four in 10 businesses in Nova Scotia will be able to pay back the loan, a quarter will have to borrow money to get the loan forgiveness, two in 10 won’t be able to make the deadline and the rest don’t know what will happen.

“If they do miss that January deadline, they will go from having $40,000 debt on Jan. 18 to $60,000 debt,” Robertson said.

“They’ll have to pay that five per cent interest and then they’ll have until Dec. 31, 2026 to fully repay that CEBA loan.”

Robertson said the federation is concerned for the more than 16,000 small Nova Scotia businesses that took the loan and were counting on the forgivable portion. He said they’re hoping the federal government will extend the forgivable loan by a year so businesses have time to catch up.

“When they took that loan, we weren’t really sure what the economic realities would be and now many are faced with high costs and rising interest rates, so we’re asking government to take that into account … we found that would benefit around 95 per cent of businesses that took that loan,” said Robertson.

‘Bad time for a lot of small businesses’

The Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia said half of the establishments are either just breaking even or operating at a loss.

“With increased expenses across the board and high debt loads, many businesses will not be able to pay back their CEBA loans by the determined deadline,” the restaurant association said in a statement. “We urge the Federal Government to extend the repayment deadline as restaurants continue to recover from closures during the pandemic and navigate challenges in the industry.”

Brendan Doherty, the owner of Edible Matters and The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse, said the loan repayments are coming at “a terrible time for small businesses.” He said the loans were “a lifeline that kept

Read more

Business Strategy After Sam Altman Firing

Turmoil is rocking the artificial intelligence industry. Business leaders developing an AI strategy should—in most but not all cases—continue as before the recent big news.

The board of OpenAI fired Sam Altman as CEO on November 17, and the company’s president, Greg Brockman, resigned soon after. Three days later, Microsoft announced, “Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft
to lead a new advanced AI research team.”

The business world was stunned by the rapid turnaround, but maybe should not have been too surprised. The latest advances in AI came quickly, throwing a great deal of computing activity into a state of flux. The technical capabilities of large language models have grown rapidly, with fast-moving implications for business practices of end-users of AI. In between, new relationships between the AI startups and the major tech companies were forged. AI businesses such as OpenAI and Anthropic need cloud computing providers, and the corporations with cloud operations need AI for their other business lines.

Rapid change is not surprising for a fast-growing industry using new technology to power sales. Past generations saw it with railroads, petroleum and automobiles. This will not be the last change in the industry. It might be the last change for the week of Thanksgiving, but probably not even the last change of 2023.

Key people, such as Sam Altman, matter. But how much they matter is quite debatable. Historians argue this issue. Do great people make history, or does history make great people? Most of the top business innovations developed as technological opportunities advanced. A great leader may see the opportunity and implement it first, but someone else would eventually have come along to do the same.

Business leaders about to ink a major deal with OpenAI or Microsoft related to AI might want to pause and learn more. In all other cases, companies should continue developing AI implementation strategies. The best advice right now is to focus on specific apps that utilize AI to improve employee productivity in narrow activities. Microsoft has been incorporating ChatGPT into its current products, while many startups have developed very specific apps that utilize a large language model to help with very specific business tasks.

Those specific apps will be far

Read more

3 in 5 believe Biden knew of son’s business dealings: Poll

Three out of five respondents believe President Biden knew of his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, according to a survey conducted by Harvard’s Center for American Political Studies, Harris X and The Harris Poll.

Sixty percent of respondents think Biden “helped and participated in Hunter Biden’s business,” while 40 percent said they think the president did not help or participate, the poll found.

Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say they think Biden participated in his son’s business, despite there being no clear evidence of that claim; 81 percent of Republican respondents said they think Biden participated, compared to 39 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independent voters who said the opposite.

Sixty-one percent of Democrats said Biden had no knowledge of his son’s business dealings, while 19 percent of Republicans thought the same, along with 41 percent of independents.

According to Harris Poll Chairman Mark Penn, the results show that voters are still concerned about Hunter Biden’s business deals and his father’s potential involvement.

“While the news has pivoted to other topics, voters remain concerned about Hunter Biden and how involved President Biden was in his business,” Penn said in an emailed statement.

Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opened a formal impeachment inquiry into the president in mid-September and claimed the Biden family has a “culture of corruption.”

That month, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee held its first hearings on the impeachment inquiry into Biden and had a focus on Hunter Biden’s bank records and business dealings.

Democrats say Republicans have yet to connect the president to any wrongdoing.

Still, the president and his son are earning low favorability scores with voters.

“Hunter received a high unfavorable rating – worse than the president – and most believe that the president at least knew about his dealings,” Penn’s statement said.

Hunter Biden earned the highest unfavorable rating, with 37 percent of voters saying they have a “very unfavorable” view of him, 1 percent more than said the same of President Biden.

Former President Trump earned the highest favorability rating in the November poll, with 30 percent of respondents saying they have a “very favorable” view of him and 34 percent who said they have a very unfavorable view.

The survey was conducted online Nov. 15-16 with 2,851 registered voters.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or … Read more