Artificial Intelligence and SMEs: Analysis of its Adoption and Impact

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has proven its ability to drive growth and success. We have witnessed how its adoption helps companies in their business operations and allows for increased productivity and efficiency among employees. This potential can be harnessed by companies of any size.

To understand the use, impact and adoption of AI in SMEs, we conducted our annual SME survey entitled “AI in SMEs: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities”, in which decision-makers from SMEs were interviewed. Large-scale companies in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, operating in various industries such as retail, food and beverage, construction, technology and telecommunications.

These are some of the most important results.

How do SMEs invest in AI?

For the companies surveyed, investing in AI is among their top four priorities, because in 2023, 33% of them have invested in this technology (in Brazil, 47% of companies have done so, followed by 37% in Canada and 29% in Argentina ). and Colombia) and 71% will continue their investments or will begin investing in artificial intelligence during the coming period. While 35% of the companies surveyed in the study have allocated part of their investments to artificial intelligence and plan to increase it in the coming months.

In the field of technology budget allocated to artificial intelligence, Mexico leads with 30%, followed by Brazil and Colombia with 29%, then Argentina and Puerto Rico with 26%.

In terms of the type of investment made, 54% of companies are focused on improving customer service satisfaction (led by Brazil at 61%), followed by business efficiency at 51% (led by Canada at 63%), and avoiding falling behind. Compared to the competition at 44% (with Costa Rica standing out at 64%). In this section, companies in Canada stand out for their notable investments in AI to enhance efficiency and creativity, at 63%.

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How do SMEs use AI?

According to our survey, we have seen that companies have a positive attitude towards AI, with optimistic expectations about its impact on business. Thanks to this approach, we see that 78% of SMEs in the countries surveyed are currently seeking to adopt AI (in Brazil 90% of companies), and 73% of them invite their employees to use it.

Overall, 45% of companies have made significant progress in adopting AI and this is reflected in the way they use it. 57% of SMEs use it mainly in the form of virtual assistants for customer service, followed by using it to save time at work (47%) and to create images and content (36%). One point to highlight is how the main use, virtual customer service assistants, relates to the type of investment being made, which is primarily improving customer service satisfaction.

A chart of AI usage in Latin America and Canada

What benefits do SMEs get from using AI?

The identified benefits in adopting AI focus on improved efficiency and customer service. 68% of SMEs in the region cited improved efficiency (Brazil leads with 72% of SMEs citing this benefit, followed by 72% in Costa Rica and 69% in Canada). Regarding customer service, 52% of SMEs reported it as an advantage, with Colombia leading the way with 62%.

Most SMEs consider the impact of AI on productivity to be positive. Our survey found that 84% of respondents agree that the impact of AI on productivity is positive; In addition, this technology provided an average 40% increase in productivity for the SMEs surveyed, demonstrating that its use was beneficial for SMEs.

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AI impact graph in Latin America and Canada

SME employees are increasingly using AI in their work and in general we note that they have adopted similar hesitation strategies, hiring employees with AI experience and training their existing employees, with the aim of ensuring that these skills are present in your personality.

With this in mind, it is important to highlight that 57% of SMEs surveyed consider their AI workforce talent to be very strong, an aspect that may be related to the fact that more than half of participating SMEs have implemented Indeed some kind of AI training for your employees.

The potential of artificial intelligence for SMEs

As our survey shows, AI has proven to be a valuable tool for SMEs, allowing them to increase productivity, improve customer service and increase the skills of their employees. As their adoption expands, we will be able to see more benefits and different ways to use them that will help them grow and succeed.

“AI has proven that it can help businesses of all sizes and industries achieve more. At Microsoft, we maintain our commitment to democratizing its use so that more and more SMBs can access it, use it and leverage its benefits to be more productive, delivering “The world of business is increasingly competitive,” commented José Gomez Cueto, Microsoft’s general manager for SMEs for the Americas, and is growing, supported by technology, with better products.

Microsoft, through its AI solutions, is well positioned to help small and medium-sized businesses benefit from this technology, which has the potential to drive their growth today and in the future. If you want to learn more, read this text written by Roberto Icasuriaga, Director of SMEs and Local Digital Enterprises at Microsoft Latin America and the Caribbean, which analyzes the survey results and how AI benefits SMEs.

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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