Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are facing challenges in adopting and maintaining advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, according to a recent IDC study. The study found that nearly half of all SMBs lack a full-time IT employee, and most of those with in-house IT only have a small team. This deficiency in technical expertise results in outdated systems and difficulties in integrating new technologies. The reliance on external vendors for IT support further hinders the adoption of cutting-edge technologies.
The absence of dedicated IT staff is a significant factor contributing to the fact that 35% of small businesses are not leveraging AI. For SMBs that do incorporate AI, the focus is primarily on using it within IT to manage various technologies deployed in the business. Process automation has emerged as the top technology area for U.S. SMBs in 2023, with a focus on robotic process automation and process mining. SMBs recognize that automation can enhance operational efficiency and accuracy while minimizing costs.
Despite the challenges, SMBs are finding ways to embrace AI and other new technologies. For example, they are increasingly turning to chatbots for customer assistance and digital assistants to streamline task management. Additionally, SMBs aim to enhance process automation for data extraction and business applications, enabling the automation of repetitive tasks. By leveraging AI and automation, SMBs can redirect their employees’ efforts towards more strategic and creative endeavors, contributing to overall business innovation.