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Small Business in the Age of AI

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Entrepreneurs and small business owners are on the front lines, navigating the realities of automation. And they have unique advantages. The very fact that they are small and nimble makes small businesses well suited to the realities of the 21st century economy.  They are able to quickly adapt, take advantage of new opportunities, and to pivot to serve customer expectations in a rapidly changing world.

To better understand how small businesses are adapting to the age of AI, Intuit conducted a survey examining attitudes towards automation technology today as well as perceptions on how automation technology will impact their business and lives over the next 5 years.

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Small Business in the Age of AI

  1. 1. SMALL BUSINESS IN THE AGE OF AIAPRIL 2018
  2. 2. We have arrived in the age of AI For some, this new world of self-driving cars, drone delivery and robot assistants is an exciting sign of progress. 21. https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf For others, there is reason to worry that automation technology will have a profoundly disruptive impact on our way of life. An Oxford University report on “The Future of Employment”1 claims that almost half of U.S. jobs are at a high risk of being computerized over the next 20 years.
  3. 3. We have arrived in the age of AI 3 Entrepreneurs and small business owners are on the front lines, navigating the realities of this technological revolution in real time. And they have unique advantages. The very fact that they are small and nimble makes small businesses well suited to the realities of the 21st century economy. They are able to quickly adapt, take advantage of new opportunities, and to pivot to serve customer expectations in a rapidly changing world. To better understand how small businesses are adapting to the age of AI, Intuit conducted a survey examining attitudes towards automation technology today as well as perceptions on how automation technology will impact their business and lives over the next 5 years.
  4. 4. 5 Key Findings 4 1. Despite all the headlines about how automation is going to have a disruptive impact across industries, only 5% of small business owners see automation primarily as a threat. 2. Very few small businesses think that automation technology will lead to job losses. In fact, 31% say automation will allow them to add employees, while 59% say there will be no difference, and only 1% say there will be significant job loses. 3. Small businesses are adopting the leading edge of automation technology.The top categories are big data (24%), natural language processing (17%), and machine learning (12%). 4. Despite positive attitudes toward automation, a significant number of small business are not set up to take advantage of it. Almost 1 in 5 small business are not using the cloud to run their business, a necessary first step to taking advantage of the benefits of automation technology. 5. The top three benefits existing users of automation technology see are: freeing up time to get more work done (79%), helping with customer service (77%), boosting innovation (74%).
  5. 5. Methodology The term “automation technology” refers to technology-enabled processes, tools, and systems that follow specific steps automatically, reducing or eliminating the amount of human action required to complete a work task. Some examples of automation technology are: • Automatically sending a thank you email to someone who has purchased a product online • Automatically scheduling a reminder to be sent when an invoice is overdue • Allowing customers to automatically pay their bill by phone or online without speaking to a representative • Using robots to pull items in an order from warehouse shelves • Using digital tools to automatically answer customer questions • Automatically fulfilling a customer order 5 About this Survey: • An online, panel-based survey of small business owners and managers was conducted between October 2nd and October 8th, 2017. • 550 U.S. small business owners (78%) and managers (22%) responded and the margin of error is 4.18% with a 95% confidence level. • The respondent pool was consistent in terms of age, gender, race and geographic location with the population of U.S. small business owners and managers.
  6. 6. Marketing 28% 66% of small businesses are already using automation technology 6 Finance/Accounting/Billing Sales Customer Service Operations Production Other 29% 27% 25% 15% 9% 3% Top Uses:
  7. 7. Small businesses are adopting the leading edge of automation technology 7 Types of automation technologies being used: Big Data Analytics Natural Language Processing Machine Learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) 24% 17% 12% 11% 3%Other Advanced AutomationTechnology
  8. 8. Small businesses see automation technology primarily as an opportunity 8 Impact of automation technology on small business today: Impact of automation technology on small business over the next 5 years: Very positive impact Positive impact No impact Negative impact Very negative impact 13% 52% 27% 5% 1% Primarily an opportunity 54% Combination of opportunity and threat 41% Primarily a threat 6%
  9. 9. Top five reasons automation helps small businesses today: 9 can free up more time to get work done 75% 69% 68% 63% 62% can help us become more innovative can help us better serve our customers can improve how my business is managed can help us gain a competitive advantage
  10. 10. Top reasons why automation will positively impact over the next five years: business efficiency 10 73% 68% 62% 60% 59% productivity innovation responsiveness to market changes revenue
  11. 11. 11 Automation vs. Employees Small businesses do not believe that automation will result in significant employee reductions. Significant increase Slight increase No difference Slight decrease Significant decrease 8% 23% 59% 9% 1%
  12. 12. 12 Small businesses and cloud-based technology Small businesses can better position themselves to take advantage of automation by moving more of their operations to the cloud. None 1-25% 26-50% 51-75% 76-100% 19% 38% 27% 13% 3% Percentage of business operations done using cloud solutions
  13. 13. 13 Automation is mostly seen as a positive addition to small business Very Positive 16% 41% 38% Somewhat Positive Neither Positive Nor Negative Very Positive 15% 41% 39% Somewhat Positive Neither Positive Nor Negative Very Positive 15% 43% 38% Somewhat Positive Neither Positive Nor Negative Work/Life Balance Job Satisfaction Income Very Positive 18% 45% 33% Somewhat Positive Neither Positive Nor Negative Ability to Manage Business
  14. 14. Small Businesses Are Embracing Automation “As a solo practitioner, I’m on my own most days. Without tools and technology, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish as much as I do. It would take so much time to do things manually or recreate processes. By embracing automation I’m able to streamline my business and maximize my time.The better the technology is, the more it takes off my plate and allows me to focus on what I’m good at—my core genius.” — AlaiaWilliams entrepreneur and business systems consultant 14 “In the last year and a half, my business has grown in a way it was not able to previously, and part of that is due to automation. By automating some of my basic business processes, I’ve been able to free up bandwidth for other projects. For example, invoice creation used to be a nightmare to do by hand; now, I don’t even have to think about it.” — Jake Feldman Nexus Academics “While a lot of our processes are currently done on a computer, I can absolutely envision a time in the very near future when we will be interacting with QuickBooks via a voice assistant such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home,Apple Siri or others.This is something I would embrace. It is exciting to think about improving our customer experience and back-end productivity with modern innovations, all while eliminating traditional manual tasks.” — Kevin Neal P3id Intuit spoke with several small business owners in various industries to hear their thoughts on automation…
  15. 15. Small Businesses Are Embracing Automation 15 As a handcrafted accessories company, we believe in the quality and integrity of doing things by hand. But when it comes to our business systems, technology and automation is key. It speeds things up and leaves less room for error. With QuickBooks, for example, reports are automated and categorized for me. It’s plug-and-play after you get it set up. Once the ground work is in place, it takes care of itself.” — Theresa Lee Future Glory
  16. 16. Conclusion The impact ofAI and other advanced automation technology will play out for years, even decades to come. And while there are sure to be unforeseen impacts on our economy, workforce and society, one things is sure – small business owners will lead the charge in figuring out how to navigate this new reality. 16

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