Bredin Report: Top Challenges for SMB AI Implementation

In last week’s Bredin Report, we discussed new research from the most recent wave of our SMB Pulse survey of 500 U.S.-based principals on the contribution and benefits of AI to their businesses.

In that survey, we also asked about how SMBs have implemented it, and the challenges they have experienced.

How SMBs Implement AI

There is no one clearly dominant implementation practice – SMBs use a variety of strategies to adopt AI. Very small businesses (VSBs, or SMBs with fewer than 20 employees) and small businesses (SBs, with 20 to 99 employees) are both most likely to acquire an AI application from a third party and have it customized by a consultant. Midsized businesses (MBs, with 100 to 500 employees) are most likely to acquire it from a third party and use it off the shelf, followed closely by having it customized. A significant fraction of each size segment acquires an AI application and customizes it with in-house staff, and a roughly the same percent have a solution developed for them by a consultant or freelancer.

SMB Challenges with AI

No matter how they implemented AISMBs face a number of challenges in getting the most from it:

  • VSBs are most likely to lack a clear strategy for AI – for example, what exactly they want it to accomplish for their organization, and who will be responsible for it. They are also concerned about its expense – whether the initial fee or customization costs.
  • SBs are concerned about the implementation time, and the amount of customization required – which are of course related.
  • MBs are also concerned with the customization required; they are equally concerned with the status of their data – for example that it is isolated, siloed, inconsistent or poor quality. This is a very valid concern; AI is only as good as the data it is trained on.

In the coming weeks, we’ll explore more about the hurdles to AI adoption for non-adopters, the prevalence of AI usage policies, and how marketers can improve SMB adoption of and satisfaction with AI.

Need research to learn about your SMB target? Place a few questions in Bredin’s monthly SMB Pulse or let our experienced team design and execute a custom research project to uncover actionable insights.

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About Bredin

Bredin was founded in 1991 by America's foremost small business expert, author and syndicated columnist Alice Bredin. From its beginning, Bredin was designed to be a breed apart: 50% research consultancy, 50% creative agency, 100% focused on SMB. Based in Somerville, Mass., Bredin helps Fortune 500 companies understand, reach and retain SMB customers through timely, targeted research and award-winning marketing programs.