Over 50% of SME owners understand AI – yet adoption challenges loom

New data from iwoca, one of Europe’s prominent business lenders, shows that more than half (55%) of SME owners believe they comprehend AI well.

Despite the understanding, there’s widespread apprehension about its impact on businesses.

A notable 27% of SMEs are integrating tools like ChatGPT into their operations. Positive sentiment towards AI among SME leaders is three times higher than negative views. AI could potentially save businesses significant time, with 21% of respondents believing they could spare at least ten hours weekly.

While there’s an apparent acknowledgement of the advantages of machine learning, there’s still a discernible trepidation among the UK’s 5.5m SMEs about the potential applications of AI. Over half (51%) of these businesses express concerns about introducing AI to their operations, a figure that is double the percentage of those not feeling such apprehension (23%). A further 28% are worried AI might disrupt their business models.

The research also sheds light on various reasons hindering AI adoption. The most significant of these is the perceived irrelevance of AI to their operations, as stated by 41% of respondents. Other reasons include a lack of technical expertise (18%), high implementation costs (17%), and concerns about algorithmic bias (17%).

iwoca Director Mark Di-Toro said, “The research suggests that although SME owners have been keeping up with AI developments, many are naturally apprehensive and remain unsure of how to leverage it. Defining AI’s applications for your business and identifying specific areas for its use are key to demystifying it. The overarching concept of AI can seem daunting, but – if used properly – we’ve seen that the technology can drive practical benefits, saving time and money.”

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