As generative AI makes headlines for its impacts in large corporations, FreshBooks shifted the spotlight to small business owners to measure the technology's influence and usage in this important sector of workers. In a survey of approximately 1,000 small business owners from various industries in the United States and Canada, 25% said they're currently using or testing generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, Google Bard and Microsoft Bing. Adoption of generative AI was relatively uniform across verticals, with the exception of IT/Software. Two out of three business owners say they'll try generative AI for work within the next 12 months, demonstrating that most small businesses will be using the technology within a year.
Small business owners are less convinced that AI is coming for their jobs and/or the jobs of their employees, with two-thirds disagreeing that AI will replace them. On the other hand, many owners appear confident they can leverage the technology when it comes to employment, with 44% of owners saying they expect to hire fewer people in the future because of AI capabilities. The larger the business, the more likely owners were to agree that AI will result in employing fewer people.
"Anxiety over AI has been growing lately, with workers in certain industries expressing concerns that their jobs will be replaced," says Mara Reiff, Chief Data Officer at FreshBooks. "In the world of small business, it appears that owners don't feel particularly threatened and don't believe artificial intelligence can do their jobs just as well as they can. On the other hand, their eyes are wide open to the potential of using AI as a support to help them scale."
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