New research by accounting platform, Xero, reveal that four in five businesses are concerned about artificial intelligence (AI) development and adoption.
In a survey of over 3000 small business owners from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the US, many have expressed their concerns about the rapid development of AI technology.
For New Zealand businesses alone, many believe that sensitive information disclosure (51 percent) and data privacy violations (50 percent) are the main ethical concerns when it comes to AI being implemented into businesses.
“While AI brings lots of benefits, the survey results highlight the need to provide more knowledge, tools, and policies to ensure small businesses are not left behind and can continue to thrive,” says Mark Rees, Chief Technology Officer at Xero.
With AI has become more widely accessible recently, in order to keep up or stay ahead, 32 percent of small businesses are experimenting with 21 percent investing in new tools, 20 percent dedicating more resources, and 18 percent working with third party vendors or experts.
Small businesses are seeing benefits using generative AI tools with 26 percent using them on creating policies and guidelines for employees and 25 percent on training employees.
The survey even reveals that small businesses are trusting AI with sensitive data with more than half of small businesses surveyed are trusting the technology with identifiable customer information while 45 percent use AI on sensitive commercial information.
Many small businesses are putting their data at risk meaning security and privacy issues are growing, along with increased inaccuracies in content, decreased employee morale and decreased efficiency.
Despite the initiative to use the technology, 32 percent of small businesses are still not taking any proactive steps to initiate using AI.
Across the board, a third (32 percent) of businesses surveyed are intrigued in the technology, with 31 percent feeling anxious and 30 percent feeling excited.
Around half of those surveyed believe AI will be helpful and have a positive impact on processes, workflow and employees, compared to the 20 percent who stated that the tech will be harmful.
Uncertainty still clouds the sector surrounding the role AI will play and whether it will be a significant impact, but most want the technology to play a big role, however not the majority role.
With all the hype about AI in the past year, small businesses are not putting the technology as a priority in the next year, with focuses being on growing business revenue, attracting new customers and managing rising costs.
Only eight percent of businesses are planning to adopt or invest in AI in the next year.