Bredin Report: SMB AI Adoption Inhibitors

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 how they have implemented AI, and its challenges.

In that survey, we also asked AI non-users – specifically those SMBs who are interested in but have not yet adopted AI – how they expect to use it, and what they anticipate the benefits will be.

Intended usage varies quite a bit by company size. Very small businesses (VSBs, or SMBs with fewer than 20 employees) and midsized businesses (MBs, with 100 to 500 employees) both plan to use AI most as a virtual assistant. That planned use is second for small businesses (SBs, with 20 to 99 employees), who are more likely to use AI for business intelligence or analytics. VSBs are second most likely to use AI for website and social media analytics, while MBs are second most likely to use it to improve operations.

How Non-User SMBs Expect to Use AI

Potential AI users envision significant benefits from its use. Roughly half of VSB and SB non-users expect it to make a very or significant contribution to their business – increasing to over two in three MBs. Specifically, VSBs and SBs are most excited about the opportunity to improve their marketing and sales, followed by quality improvements. MBs are most, and equally, excited about AI’s potential to help them improve quality, to expand into new markets, and to improve data security.

Anticipated Benefits of AI

If the benefits are so compelling, why are late AI adopters lagging? In a word, the cost – it’s the number one concern, across all size segments. The second biggest concern overall is having a clear strategy for AI. SBs are also concerned about end-user training, and MBs, security and compliance.

AI Adoption Inhibitors

Next week, we’ll finish our series on AI with a look at the rationales for SMBs who aren’t interested in AI at all, and the prevalence of AI usage policies.

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.