How small companies are navigating AI


The hype round synthetic intelligence (AI) is making small companies really feel that its improvement and adoption is transferring at lightning velocity.

In reality, our new analysis exhibits that 80% of small enterprise homeowners globally are involved that the quick tempo and nature of AI is leaving regulation within the mud. They informed us they need governments to do extra, given the potential massive influence to industries and the workforce.

We launched our Future Focus analysis on AI at Xerocon Sydney this yr, taking an in-depth have a look at how 3,000 small enterprise homeowners from throughout Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the USA really feel about AI and the potential influence on their enterprise.

We additionally introduced plenty of new, thrilling AI-powered options and generative AI experiments at this yr’s occasion. You possibly can study extra about these enhancements in our product wrap from Xerocon Sydney 2023.

Blended emotions in analysis findings

So, what did the analysis inform us? In a nutshell — small companies have combined emotions about AI. They’re curious and excited, however there’s additionally concern about moral implications and information privateness. 

Nearly a 3rd (32%) of small companies are intrigued about AI, whereas others are feeling anxious (31%) and excited (30%). Half of small companies consider AI will likely be extra useful and have a optimistic influence on their individuals, processes and workflows, in comparison with 20% who stated they consider it is going to be extra dangerous.

We additionally realized that delicate data disclosure (41%) and information privateness violations (41%) had been thought of to be the largest moral challenges regarding AI use of their enterprise. Some (38%) respondents had been additionally involved concerning the moral challenges round employee displacement that may very well be attributable to AI utilisation.

Curiosity outweighs considerations

Even with these moral considerations within the body, and with AI instruments turning into extra simply accessible, small enterprise homeowners nonetheless wish to be proactive and keep forward of the curve. We discovered that globally, 32% of companies are experimenting with AI instruments, and 21% are investing in them. The outcomes additionally confirmed:

  • one in 5 small companies had been dedicating extra assets to AI
  • greater than half (51%) stated they trusted AI instruments with identifiable buyer data 
  • 45% of respondents stated they might belief AI instruments with delicate business data

The challenges of utilizing AI

Whereas AI has piqued the curiosity of small enterprise homeowners, we’ve additionally realized that it’s not the highest precedence for small companies simply but. Solely 8% of respondents ranked adopting or investing in AI as their primary precedence over the subsequent 12 months. 

By way of the small companies which might be already utilizing AI, 69% are reporting some drawbacks, and 23% have seen elevated safety or privateness points since utilizing generative AI instruments. These drawbacks included:

  • elevated biases or inaccuracies in content material (18%) 
  • decreased worker morale (18%) 
  • decreased effectivity as a result of time overseeing the standard management of AI content material (16%)
  • decreased headcount (14%)

Whereas decreased headcount might be seen as a downside, it may well additionally assist small enterprise homeowners to be extra environment friendly and save on prices. Although 59% of small enterprise homeowners stated they don’t see their hiring plans altering over the subsequent three years, a 3rd (31%) stated they plan to rent fewer individuals.

A reminder to make use of information accountability 

The curiosity in generative and predictive AI is understandably driving curiosity amongst small companies. But when exploration of this expertise results in sharing private identifiable data, that would put their purchasers’ information in danger. 

As a result of we all know how vital defending delicate information is, Xero has had, for a few years now, accountable information use commitments that information us as a enterprise, and assist us assist our prospects as they navigate their very own information use.

New AI information for accountants and bookkeepers

As an accountant or bookkeeper, you’re usually a trusted advisor to your purchasers in relation to new expertise and the way it may be used to assist their enterprise. So, we’ve revealed the Future Focus: AI Information for Accountants and Bookkeepers that can assist you navigate the potential influence of AI in your observe and purchasers. 

We invite you to take a while to learn by this information, and take into account the alternatives and dangers that AI can open up on your observe. You too can go to our Future Focus playlist on YouTube, to study extra from consultants about AI and different rising applied sciences.


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