In the recent ScotPac SME Growth Index, researchers found that fewer than one in seven Australian small and medium-sized businesses have either implemented AI technology or will soon do so.

In contrast, 85% had no plans to use AI soon and 28% knew nothing about it. And more than half of respondents were aware of the technology but were unsure about its potential applications or uses for their sector.

The many benefits of AI for businesses

That said, ScotPac believes it’s inevitable that more business owners will soon focus on planning for AI adoption, given its potential to increase productivity and reduce wage bills.

Many larger companies are already taking advantage of AI. Visa’s use of AI, for example, has helped prevent $714 million in fraud in a year in Australia alone. Elsewhere, Australia Post is using AI to improve the accuracy of delivery predictions and extract addresses from parcels.

Indeed, companies polled by the CSIRO listed improved security, greater revenue growth and increased cyber safety as the top three benefits of using AI technologies. They also reported average time savings for existing processes of 30% across each AI-enabled initiative.

“AI-driven automation shifts employee roles away from being task-oriented to become more value-oriented, applying human intervention and expertise where it’s needed most, inviting more creativity, uplifting employee experience and consequently customer experience,” the CSIRO notes.

Meanwhile, research by MYOB found that small and medium-sized enterprises that use AI say it has helped them save time in their business and increase productivity.

According to MYOB, the most popular uses for AI among these businesses include crafting social media and marketing posts (49%), copywriting for marketing materials and media releases (34%), followed by copywriting of technical documents (25%), and market, trend and risk analysis (25%).

The roadblocks for businesses looking to adopt AI

Despite the advantages, there are risks to using AI. Many companies are concerned about the lack of appropriate checks and balances around AI, which could lead to unintended consequences that might damage their reputations.

AI systems can also inadvertently disseminate or amplify biases or racism because of biased data or algorithmic designs. In addition, AI increases privacy and security risks because the technology often collects and analyses large amounts of personal data.

Plus, there are concerns that hackers could use the power of AI to develop more advanced cyberattacks, bypass security measures and exploit weaknesses in computer systems.

How much will AI cost your business?

“Aside from justified concerns about job displacement, data privacy and workflow changes, one of the largest upfront impediments for SMEs in implementing AI technology will be the cost,” ScotPac notes in its SME Growth Index report.

“Investment in areas like hardware, software, IT talent acquisition and employee education will all be required upfront before AI efficiency gains are realised in the longer term.

“In coming years, it will be vital for businesses to seek planning and financing advice on AI implementation, to ensure existing operations are not impacted as new technology is soon introduced.

“Whatever type of investment in AI is required, ScotPac’s team of experienced lending specialists can deliver a working capital solution to help businesses acquire the assets or expertise they need to be fit for the future.”

Contact us for access to the working capital you need to invest in AI implementation and expertise.