SME survey reveals 60 per cent will use AI by 2026

SME survey AI
Micro businesses are the least likely to adopt AI technology. (Source: Bigstock)

Sixty per cent of all Australian SME businesses either already use or plan to use Artificial Intelligence by 2026.

A recent SME survey on AI use garnered information from 205 directors and decision-makers. The survey was conducted across micro (1-10 employees), small (11-50 employees) and medium-sized businesses (51-200 employees). It found 25 per cent of Australian businesses already incorporate AI tools on a daily basis.

Businesses surveyed most commonly use AI-powered reporting and chat boxes with email replies.

Twenty seven per cent of all SMEs use or plan to use AI-powered customer or data analysis tools.

Twenty three per cent are using AI productivity tools while copy generation attracts just 15 per cent. Only 11 per cent of SMEs use customer relationship manager bots.

The SME survey, from business loan comparison platform Small Business Loans Australia, reveals 90 per cent of medium-sized businesses plan to integrate AI in the next two years.

Micro businesses are the least likely to adopt the tech; just 23 per cent plan to embrace it by 2026. Only 18 per cent currently use AI.

SMEs embrace AI for menial tasks

Alon Rajic is founder and managing director of Small Business Loans Australia. He said SMEs use AI for time-consuming data analysis or automatic replies.

“Australian businesses are increasingly seeing the value in utilising AI for those arduous, laborious and menial tasks that don’t require a human touch, creativity or finesse. 

“This is a trend we’re seeing internationally too with a colossal rise of companies using financial reporting AI clocked over the past year.”

AI chatbot ChatGPT is only two years old. However Rajic is surprised how few micro businesses us AI, given the current economic headwinds.

“This tells us that customer relationships and a considered, human touch are paramount to Australia’s smallest businesses, but as AI offerings continue to expand and more knowledge about their cost and time saving benefits emerge, we expect this trend to change. 

“With an extraordinary 90 per cent of medium-sized businesses expecting to harness AI by 2026, it stands to reason that smaller SMEs will follow suit,” he said.