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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Artificial Intelligence – visibly absent in small businesses but notably present in midmarket firms

The IT industry is abuzz with discussion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain. Both AI and blockchain are currently aspirational within SMBs and Midmarket firms. It is not because these firms are not open to the technologies but they have limited understanding of deployment processes.

Regardless of the aspirational nature, both the technologies are showing a very promising adoption trends within midmarket firms. Techaisle’s survey research of 1100 US firms shows that 26% of midmarket firms are currently using AI and another 28% plan to deploy within the next one year. If they stick to the plan, by mid-2020, over 50% of firms will have at least either begun trials or accomplished full deployment of AI within their organizations.

Similarly, blockchain adoption shows an important trend. Although, less than 1/5th of midmarket firms are currently using the technology, a full 40% do plan to adopt blockchain within the year. In fact, when the two datasets are combined, data shows that 42% are currently experimenting and another 42% are developing protypes. Drilling down into the data we find that 26% of midmarket firms are seriously investigating the possibility of implementing blockchain.

In contrast to midmarket’s current and planned adoption of artificial intelligence, only 5% of small businesses are currently using artificial intelligence and 10% of small businesses which are planning to deploy AI are conducting trials.

Not only is the adoption trend different between small and midmarket businesses, the expected benefits and application usages also differ. For example, 38% of small businesses believe that use of AI in marketing / advertising and 32% in improving customer experiences will be integral to their business success whereas 43% of midmarket firms believe that use of AI in process automation and 42% in improving analytics will be integral to their business success. Nevertheless, one-third of both small and midmarket firms believe that use of AI in cybersecurity will be essential for improved security.

Identical percentage, 54% of US small and midmarket businesses agree that artificial intelligence refers to a system consisting of a series of algorithms that can learn from constant inputs. 45% of small businesses and 46% of midmarket firms aspire to use AI for automating IT and a similar percentage plan to initially use AI for non-core processes and applications.

Artificial intelligence adoption within SMBs is at a stage where cloud was a decade ago. Visibly absent within small businesses but notably present within midmarket firms. However, it is not a question of when AI adoption will take firm root but how. The responsibility lies with the vendors and other suppliers for guidance, deployment alacrity and outcomes.

 

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WW SMB and Midmarket analytics adoption acceleration needs external services

Techaisle’s latest US, Asia/Pacific, Europe and Latin America SMB and Midmarket Analytics and Artificial Intelligence adoption trends survey research shows that although 73% of midmarket firms (100-999 employees) and 10% of small businesses (1-99 employees) are using analytics (weighted data), only 6% of small businesses and 27% of midmarket firms are highly data-driven, that is, they have an evidence-driven culture, in which data helps defines requirements or opportunities thus enabling SMB executives to determine the best option for moving forward. Majority of SMB, 54%, are rarely data-driven and rely primarily on the insights and expertise of the senior management. Nevertheless, within the next one year, 23% of small businesses plan to adopt analytical solutions beyond spreadsheets and overall 30% of small businesses plan to engage with an external professional services firms to understand how they could provide assistance to deploy advanced analytics solutions. Cloud-based analytics is being used by 57% of midmarket firms and as compared to only 14% of small business but the intent to use within small businesses is significantly high at 48%.

Within 31% of midmarket firms, IT is being challenged with demand for increased analytics. As a result, overall 35% of midmarket firms are planning to engage with professional services firms to help develop and prepare data management systems, techniques and technology.

The whole product for analytics starts with cloud. 37% of SMBs consider cloud to be an essential analytics technology but when drilled down into midmarket firms, data reveals that 30% of midmarket firms believe that large scale local storage and fast processing infrastructure is necessary for deep analytics implementation.

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Techaisle midmarket study shows cloud maturity does not always equal high digitization

Techaisle’s US midmarket digital transformation trends study shows that maturity of cloud adoption does not equate to high digitization of the business. Study data shows that only half of the 47% of mature midmarket cloud adopters are holistic adopters of digitalization. It is true that these firms believe in cloud and its effect on digitization but they also believe that true digital transformation requires advanced adoption of multiple technology solutions. Data also shows that the midmarket firms that have a siloed strategy of digital transformation are intermediate adopters of cloud, mostly driven by non-IT business units which need cloud to further their business objectives.

However, it is also clear from data that the Holistic segment includes a disproportionate number of mature cloud adopters, and mature cloud adopters in turn are much more likely to be Holistic in their approach to digitalization than firms in the intermediate category. A smaller (7% of total) third group of midmarket businesses, ‘born in the cloud’ (i.e., have all IT resident in the cloud) largely echo the patterns of the mature cloud users.

From a digitalization product/service marketer’s perspective, this is an important finding: it shows that those who can identify mature cloud adopters are likely to find greater receptivity to their messages and offerings than those that engage equally with the similarly-populous group of intermediate (in terms of cloud adoption) midmarket businesses.

High adoption of diverse technology solutions determines digitalization success

Even considering planned adoption, Siloed midmarket digital segment is likely to remain far behind the Holistic midmarket digital segment. The Siloed segment even lags being in the technology areas which midmarket firms see having the most impact in their business for the next 5 years.

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