New Study Reveals Canada’s SMBs are turning AI Curiosity into AI Action

Canadian SMB
New data from Microsoft shows that small businesses are next in line to reap the benefits of AI transformation.

When you own a small business, every minute counts. With fewer hands and resources than their enterprise neighbours, Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can’t afford to tie up valuable time and labour in mundane and time-consuming tasks. Despite the obvious benefits of AI technology for SMBs, including easing the burden of administrative tasks and automating repetitive ones like order tracking and customer service, until now, they have lagged in AI adoption (Dais).

A recent study revealed a shift from curiosity about AI to tangible action among SMBs in the country. The survey further highlights concerns about skilling and security that act as a barrier to AI adoption. With AI revolutionizing the business arena, these new insights from Microsoft indicate that with the right supports and learning, SMBs are poised to capitalize on its transformative potential.

The study, conducted by Edelman Mexico and Microsoft in January of this year asked Canadian small business leaders (1-250 employees) about the top challenges and opportunities related to AI. The study found that a whopping 78 per cent of businesses are currently seeking to adopt AI, and 65 per cent are encouraging their employees to use it.

Canada’s small businesses contribute significantly to Canada’s economic success. According to Statistics Canada, SMBs account for almost 98 per cent of all employer businesses in Canada and employ about two thirds of all employees. SMBs also generate more than half of the gross domestic product (GDP) attributed to the business sector. This outsized influence means that a more productive and successful small business sector means a stronger Canadian economy.

By adopting and implementing AI, SMBs can improve their productivity, competitiveness, and innovation, as well as create new opportunities for growth and social impact. For those small businesses already acquainted with the technology, between 66 per cent and 76 per cent of companies consider the impact of AI on the company’s productivity to be positive, improving work quality, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. In particular, they report an average increase of 31 per cent in productivity.

But some barriers to full adoption remain. Small businesses are concerned about their ability to retain a strong cybersecurity posture through their digital transformation and nearly half emphasize the challenge of upskilling talent to utilize the tools effectively. These findings point to a need for further education and supports to help small businesses navigate the AI transformation.

See the infographic below to learn more about how Canada’s small businesses are using AI.

Microsoft is committed to supporting Canada’s small businesses with tools and education to adapt to the changing business landscape. These innovative tools are enabling SMBs to optimize operations, enhance customer experiences, and create new business models. By leveraging AI-driven analytics, Canadian SMBs are gaining valuable insights into market trends and customer preferences, allowing for more informed decision-making. Furthermore, AI-powered automation is streamlining processes, reducing costs, and increasing efficiency. As a result, Canada’s SMBs are not only surviving but thriving in a competitive global marketplace.

Small businesses can find resources at Microsoft website, including Security 101 and AI Skills training.


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