SMEs Shy Away From Investing in AI

SMEs Shy Away From Investing in AI

A lack of financial resources, a lack of expertise and doubts about reliability make many SMEs reluctant to use AI.

This is shown by the SME barometer and a survey on AI by Sellwerk, according to which the majority of companies surveyed see opportunities for their company in AI, but still do not feel fit to deal with AI. The participants see time savings (66%), process optimization and automation (61%) and the improvement of analyses (45%) as the added value of AI. Only just under 30 percent of participants stated that they already rely on their existing expertise when using artificial intelligence. Around 20 percent even fear that AI will lead to a loss of control and job losses in their company.

The results clearly show that SMEs are concerned by the same fears as the general public. At 80 percent, the idea of humanity losing its autonomy was the most frequently cited reason for rejecting AI. Even if most respondents see the opportunities with regard to the shortage of skilled workers or the reduction in bureaucratic tasks, only 12% of SMEs use such tools on a daily basis. Over half stated that they had not yet used any AI tools at all.

Between hope and fear of losing control

It is surprising that most companies are not planning to resolve the contradiction between hope and application. This is because almost 60 percent of respondents have no plans to invest in AI in the next 12 months. They cite two main reasons for this. Firstly, many lack experience in dealing with AI. The barriers to entry are still high, as small and medium-sized companies feel that they are not being met and are overwhelmed. Financial uncertainties and doubts about the reliability of AI applications also play a role. However, what companies want from AI in order to show a willingness to invest varies greatly. Many themselves do not know exactly what is possible or what could help them, as the following quote shows:

On the other hand, others have very specific ideas. The list is long, ranging from “text, presentation, explanatory video and accounting creation” to “reduction of bureaucracy” and “reliability of data security in order to comply with all guidelines” to “diagnostic assessments”, “data exchange with employees” and “analysis of financial data” to “automated yet individualized responses to inquiries”. One interviewee sums up the desire to be listened to.