hands typing, app testing, GenAI

For small and mid-sized businesses, the edict is stark and simple: It’s AI or perish.

Results from two recent surveys show overwhelming advances in generative-AI adoption, especially among midsize firms.

“AI may still be in the early innings of a long game, but its capabilities are progressing expeditiously, creating potentially enormous opportunities that more and more companies are eager to understand and harness,” said Richard Cabrera, head of commercial banking at Umpqua Bank, which announced results from its annual 2024 Business Barometer Survey of small and mid-size companies.

More than half the mid-sized companies (56%) polled said they are making AI investments their top priority, and nearly 8 in 10 are hurtling forward to implement GenAI.

Indeed, an overwhelming majority expected AI to have a significant impact over the next 12 months on productivity (72%), competitive advantage (71%), profitability (70%) and acceleration of new products (69%).

Small businesses are also honing in on GenAI — 45% plan to use it, and 31% believe the technology will most benefit their marketing and customer service.

This, in turn, has created outsized reliance on outside consultants like Accenture and Deloitte to put all the AI pieces together, according to data from the Futurum Group.

The abrupt seismic shift to AI has not only put immense pressure on IT buyers and those who implement the shiny new AI tools in-house, but unequivocally altered the workforce.

An overwhelming majority of small-business owners plan changing job roles as a result of AI integration, based on the results of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2024 Q2 Small Business Index, a quarterly analysis which illustrates how the nation’s small business owners feel about their economic outlook.

Two-thirds say they expect AI to change the roles they have on staff in the future (65%) or expect AI expertise to be listed in future job postings (64%). Retail (72%), professional services (71%), and manufacturing (66%) say they expect AI to change on-staff roles.

Most small businesses say they are likely to use AI for administrative tasks now handled by humans, ranging from developing standard operating procedures (70%) to writing a business plan (68%).

Yet another survey, this one from Veriff, found 78% of U.S. decision-makers reported an increase in the use of AI in fraudulent attacks over the past year.