Many SMBs are super close to making big AI breakthroughs — they just need a final push

Many SMBs are super close to making big AI breakthroughs — they just need a final push

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can unlock huge benefits from artificial intelligence, but there’s one key aspect that’s holding them back from even adopting the technology, let alone prosper from it, new research has claimed.

A study from AWS has found data-driven SMBs are adopting AI tools at nearly twice the rate of their competitors, leading to better financial results.

However, many SMBs are being held back due to uncertainty surrounding the new technology and a lack of sufficient underpinnings, the study found, which is ultimately limiting their financial performance and preventing them from reaching the successes of their AI-enhanced counterparts.

SMBs need more confidence in AI

Around one in three (34%) expressed scepticism or reluctance about initiating AI projects in the near future, with many struggling to get past the experimental phase.

The study also highlighted the critical role of data maturity in AI adoption – four times as many SMBs with a robust data strategy are at an advanced stage of AI maturity compared with those without a data strategy.

Security concerns also emerged as a challenge to the rollout of AI, with nearly half (48%) of SMBs identifying security as a barrier to adoption. A lack of skilled workers (43%) and a general skills shortage (42%) were also noted as prominent obstacles.

Looking at results, between 48-57% of data-driven SMBs reported moderate to high positive impacts from AI in areas like process efficiency, marketing, market share, revenue, customer satisfaction, cost reduction and risk management. Less than half (21%) of less data-driven SMBs noted similar outcomes.

Looking ahead, the study asserts that SMBs should take the time and resources to become data-driven ahead of adopting AI, and with only one in five (19%) considering themselves highly data-driven, it’s clear that more work is needed in order for the world’s SMBs to get the highly desired outcomes associated with artificial intelligence.

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