Are small to medium businesses harnessing the power of AI?

APRIL

ARE SMALL-TO-
MEDIUM BUSINESSES
HARNESSING THE
POWER OF AI?

A CLOSER LOOK AT ADOPTION TRENDS & TOOLS

A Small Business Loans Study

About the study

Small Business Loans Australia commissioned a survey of 205 business directors and decision-makers across the full SME spectrum - micro (1-10 employees), small (11-50 employees), and medium-sized businesses (51-200 employees) - to gauge their rate of AI adoption and which AI tools they rely on.

Respondents were asked if they have already integrated or plan to integrate AI into any aspect of their business in the next two years.

The survey also asked respondents to select what kind of AI they use or plan to use, in their business out of the following options:

  • AI-powered copy generator or copy editor
  • AI-powered reporting
  • AI-powered customer or data analysis tools
  • AI chatboxes and email replies for customers
  • AI phone prompts and replies for customers
  • AI image generation
  • Customer relationship management bot
  • AI productivity tool that sends reminders, automates email responses, schedules work flow.

Have you integrated AI into your business, or do you plan to do so in the next two years?

Small Business Loans Australia revealed that 60 per cent of respondents are already using or planning to integrate AI into their businesses in the next two years. Just 25 per cent already use AI and 35 per cent have plans for it.


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By State.

WA businesses are leading the country in AI integration, with 40 per cent of business respondents currently relying on it. In comparison, only 28 per cent of NSW business respondents, 26 per cent of Victorian, 19 per cent of South Australian, and 17 per cent of Queensland business respondents use AI.

However, these states are planning to catch with Western Australia: an impressive 39 per cent of NSW, 38 per cent of SA, 37 per cent of Queensland, and 35 per cent of Victorian businesses are planning to use AI in the next two years.

Interestingly, Western Australia also leads the states in the proportion of businesses (47%) that are resisting the evolving digital landscape through AI adoption. They are followed by:

  • 46% of Queensland businesses
  • 44% of SA businesses
  • 39% of Victorian businesses
  • 33% of NSW businesses.

Have you integrated AI into your business, or do you plan to do so in the next two years?

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By business size.

Small Business Loans Australia found that the larger the business, the more likely it is to use AI technologies. Ninety (90) per cent of medium-sized businesses already use AI or plan to integrate AI in the next two years, with 53 per cent planning to integrate AI in the next two years.

Almost one-third (31%) of small businesses are already using AI in their business, with 51 per cent planning to integrate it in the coming two years.

In comparison, micro businesses are at risk of being left behind, with only 18 per cent currently using AI, and 23 per cent planning to use AI in the next two years. A significant 59 per cent don’t plan to use AI in the next two years.

Have you integrated AI into your business, or do you plan to do so in the next two years?

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Which AI tools does your business use, or plan to use?

Small Business Loans Australia sought to discover which AI technologies are gaining, or will gain, uptake by the SME sector.

The most popular technologies are AI-powered customer or data analysis tools (which 27% are using, or are planning to use), AI-powered reporting (25%) and AI chatboxes and email replies for customers (24%). The least popular AI tool is a customer relationship management bot (11%).


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By State.

More than a third (36%) of NSW businesses use or plan to use AI-powered customer or data analysis tools, compared with only 27 per cent of WA, 25 per cent of SA, 22 per cent of Queensland and 21 per cent of Victorian businesses.

A third (33%) of NSW and WA business use, or plan to use, AI chatboxes and email replies for customers, compared with only 20 per cent of Queenslanders and 19 per cent of Victorian and South Australian respondents.

AI productivity tools are becoming more and more popular, with 31 per cent of SA businesses already integrating it in their businesses or planning to, compared with 20 per cent of West Australian and only seven per cent of Queensland businesses.

Small Business Loans Australia found that businesses in NSW are most inclined (with 22% stating so) towards AI-powered copy generators or copy editor tools, compared with just 13 per cent of South Australian and 6 per cent of Victorian businesses.

By business size.

More than half (53%) of small businesses plan to use or already use AI-powered customer or data analysis tools, compared with 30 per cent of medium-sized businesses and just 14 per cent of micro businesses.

As customer-centric processes often take importance in businesses and AI tools allow for a more streamlined approach, it’s easy to see why l50 per cent of mediumsized businesses and 33 per cent of small businesses use, or plan to use, AI chatboxes and automated email replies for customers. However, just 13 per cent of micro businesses - with their smaller customer base - use, or plan to use, the same.

Across the spectrum, small-sized businesses are most likely to use or integrate AIpowered reporting, at 49 per cent. Medium-sized businesses followed, at 47 per cent. However, just eight per cent of micro businesses said the same.

Almost half (47%) of medium-sized businesses are most likely to integrate AI productivity tools such as reminders and email automation, compared with 35 per cent of small businesses and 9 per cent of micro businesses.

Which AI tools does your business use, or plan to use? (By State.)

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Which AI tools does your business use, or plan to use? (By business size.)

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