AI Use for Small Businesses

I recently collected feedback from small businesses and teams regarding their AI use. Insights were promised! So here goes.

The Results

First, I collected a relatively small number of legitimate responses: 16. There were nearly double that number submitted, but my forms tool and reCAPTCHA identified many of them as spam. Since the only public network that I shared the survey with was LinkedIn I was a bit surprised at the high count of bad actors. Keep an eye out for LinkedIn junk, peeps.

Responses were split between users with little or no AI use and those who made heavy use of AI for work on a nearly daily basis. Fully half of respondents pay for some kind of advanced LLM, whereas 4 of the 16 say they don’t use AI at all for work.

Nearly all users, regardless of experience, cited concerns with AI. The largest portion – 75% of responses – indicated concern over the impact of AI bias, followed closely by hallucination and copyright concerns.

What does it mean?

First, I think the small sample size and the method of collection (me, asking my network and clients) means the results are inherently biased. There’s likely much more AI interest and knowledge represented in these results than in the general population.

This is backed up by a recent Census Bureau Report on AI collecting data from September 2023 through February of this year. The report indicated AI use for business has increased from 3.7% to 5.4% over that period. AI use is advancing quickly, however; the report estimates AI adoption will grow to 6.6% by early fall, nearly a doubling from the same time last year.

Regardless of the returns – and the concerns –
AI is not going away.

The reasons for slow adoption? Many businesses perceive that AI is irrelevant to them, or they lack an understanding of AI’s impact and capabilities. A third of responses to the Marit Digital AI survey believe the technology is “not as big as the hype.”

To be sure, many industries may not find as many immediate benefits and insights as others. But regardless of the returns – and the concerns – AI is not going away. We’re in a key window of time as the technology usage and use cases increase. The devotion of time and resources now will provide dividends in knowledge and experience for companies down the line.

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A new look at Search

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AI Café

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It’s been a while since I took on this format (I was briefly a podcast co-host with my buddy Brian DeConinck) and my first foray back featured a LIVE broadcast with technical difficulties. 

We still managed to have a great conversation — check it out!