Lack of infrastructure preventing SMBs realising AI’s full capabilities

Despite successful technology's successful implementation, insufficient infrastructure and security are holding it back.

Eighty eight per cent of SMBs have successfully implemented at least one AI system.

But insufficient infrastructure, data hygiene and security is hindering them realising the technology's complete value.

That's according to a new global survey looking at SMB buying trends in the AI market commissioned by Pax8 and carried out by Channelnomics.

"The AI implementation trends among SMBs signal a positive outlook for the backbone of the global economy to be able to adapt and succeed in the digital future," said Ryan Walsh, chief strategy officer at Pax8. "However, the lack of sufficient infrastructure, data hygiene and security to fully harness AI’s potential underscores the vital role of managed service providers. As AI continues to reshape business operations, MSPs emerge as essential partners in providing the expertise and solutions SMBs need to effectively navigate the complexities of AI integration into their tech stack."

The imperative for businesses to adopt AI has never been more pressing. With the emergence and rapid expansion of AI in the IT market, organisations have been focused on the potential of the technology, particularly following the release of tools such as ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot.

According to the report, more than 80 percent of global SMBs surveyed acknowledge that neglecting AI adoption could jeopardise their competitive standing, while almost half (49 per cent) admitted that failing to keep pace with AI adoption will put them at a competitive disadvantage.

At the same time, the perceived long-term benefits of investing in AI (87 per cent) and the ability for AI investments to enhance meeting business objectives (74 per cent), including improvements in operational efficiency, data analysis, customer engagement and the optimisation of business processes demonstrate the understanding on the part of SMBs of the impact AI will have on the business landscape.

SMBs increasingly view AI as critical for their future growth and competitiveness, with 96 per cent ready to buy more AI systems and tools within the next 12 months and 64 percent planning to expand their AI implementation within the next 24 months. This surge in adoption is being driven by several desired outcomes, including faster adaptation to market shifts (53 per cent), reducing operational costs (51 per cent), and breaking into new markets (41 per cent), reflecting a strategic focus on using AI to achieve greater agility, efficiency, and expansion.

As SMBs look to harness AI's potential, several hurdles have emerged that underline the complexities of AI integration. These challenges span a variety of operational and strategic issues, with respondents pointing to insufficient infrastructure (42 per cent) as the main roadblock, followed closely by concerns over data privacy and security (40 per cent). In North

These obstacles highlight the multifaceted nature of AI integration, spanning infrastructure readiness, security vigilance, skill enhancement and system compatibility.

As the AI landscape continues to evolve rapidly, MSPs are becoming key partners for SMBs looking to maximise AI's full potential and have a unique role to play, as 58 per cent are working with a solution provider to implement AI systems independently.

"The 2024 AI Buying Trends for SMBs report underscores the vital role MSPs hold in facilitating AI adoption among SMBs as they not only bridge the gap in technical expertise but also serve as strategic advisors," said Larry Walsh, chief executive officer and chief analyst at Channelnomics. "As trusted advisors, MSPs deliver tailored AI solutions and comprehensive support, enabling SMBs to navigate the complexities of AI adoption and transform their business operations for a digital-first future."


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