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Overcoming Barriers to Adoption: Implementing Generative AI in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)

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By Bhavesh Goswami, CEO and Founder, Cloudthat

Generative AI is nothing short of revolutionary, offering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the potential for remarkable advancements. This groundbreaking technology holds the key to a future filled with boundless opportunities. Generative AI encompasses the capability to generate various forms of content, including text, images, audio, music, and more. Its versatility makes it exceedingly valuable for businesses across all industries, facilitating growth in product design, service enhancement, monitoring, decision-making, and numerous other aspects.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly turning to generative AI to
enhance their operations and gain a competitive edge. According to a 2023 survey conducted by PwC, 54% of companies in India have already implemented AI for business purposes. However, it’s important to note that there are also several barriers to adoption that SMEs must overcome to fully harness the potential of generative AI.

Benefits of generative AI in SMEs:
First and foremost, Generative AI excels at automating repetitive tasks by more than 50%,
effectively reducing the burden of manual labor. This automation not only saves employees
precious time but also liberates them to concentrate on more strategic and high-value tasks.

As a result, businesses can establish a consistent and highly efficient workflow, leading to
increased productivity and reduced operational costs. Moreover, Generative AI plays a pivotal role in sparking innovation and driving idea generation. Its capacity to produce a multitude of unique and inventive concepts is particularly valuable in fields such as product development, service enhancement, and marketing campaigns. By continuously generating fresh ideas, Generative AI fosters a culture of creativity within the organisation, empowering businesses to consistently outperform their competitors and adapt to evolving market demands.

According to a Forbes Advisor survey conducted in 2023, a notable 64% of businesses
believe that AI will enhance their operations. It can assist by predicting demand, optimising
inventory levels, and improving logistics and delivery routes. AI-powered algorithms can analyse historical data, market trends, and external factors to optimise supply chains. This sentiment underscores the growing importance of AI technologies as a valuable tool for improving various facets of business.

Furthermore, Generative AI possesses the remarkable ability to personalise customer
experiences. Through tailored recommendations based on individual preferences and needs, it make customers feel valued and enhances overall customer service. This personalised approach contributes to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty, as satisfied customers are more likely to remain loyal patrons and become advocates for the brand.

Overcoming barriers and on the way to adoption of GenAI
The rapid pace of technological advancement presents another challenge for SMEs, as it can
be difficult to keep up with emerging and modern technologies. One of the foremost obstacles to adoption is the substantial cost associated with implementing and integrating AI into their operations. This encompasses initial setup expenses, computational resource requirements, and ongoing maintenance. However, these concerns primarily pertain to short-term considerations. True visionaries are those who shape the business landscape, and their sights are firmly set on long-term objectives.

A secondary challenge is the need for technical expertise to harness the full potential of
generative AI and seamlessly integrate it into the business. SMEs can surmount this hurdle by forging partnerships with companies like CloudThat, employing AI experts capable of facilitating seamless integration and application.

Conversely, SMEs equipped with in-house technical teams may still face a formidable skills gap due to the ever-evolving nature of AI technology. Fortunately, numerous corporate training companies, in collaboration with Microsoft, AWS, Google, and VMware, offer cost-effective upskilling programs centered around AI. In fact, according to the American Society for Training and Development, Every dollar invested in Artificial Intelligence training results in a $3 increase in productivity. Companies like CloudThat, specialising in corporate upskilling in the field of technology, such as GenAI, can serve as invaluable allies to SMEs.

Apart from technical integration, it is also necessary that the workforce is open to accepting new technologies. Acceptance of these new technologies within your workforce and values can be a complex and time-consuming challenge. Hence, it becomes important for leaders to encourage their employees to utilise tools like ChatGPT. Leaders setting examples can help ease this transition.

A survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group in 2023, based on feedback from
12,800 employees across 18 countries and various industries, sheds light on the transformative impact of generative AI. The survey revealed that 72.8% of Indians believe that the rewards of generative AI outweigh the risks. The majority of respondents suggested that generative AI is more advantageous than disadvantageous for their companies.

SMEs have the capability to overcome these obstacles and successfully incorporate AI into their business strategies. Ongoing observation and analysis of AI functionality, coupled with
gathering feedback from employees and customers, are essential steps in the adaptation
process. This iterative approach allows SMEs to fine-tune AI applications to meet their specific needs and ensures a successful integration. In line with these efforts, the Forbes Advisor survey titled, ‘How Businesses Are Using Artificial Intelligence in 2023’ reveals that 53% of businesses employ AI to optimise their production processes, 51% use AI for process
automation, and 52% leverage AI for search engine optimisation tasks.

Across various industries, including pharmaceuticals, entertainment, and manufacturing, many companies have embraced generative AI, leading to significant advancements in their products and services. For instance, pharmaceutical companies like Amgen and Insilico Medicine have harnessed generative AI to expedite research on protein design for medicines, thereby enhancing their understanding of protein synthesis.

Despite the initial barriers, generative AI holds the potential to be a valuable tool for SMEs. By surmounting these challenges, SMEs can leverage generative AI to enhance their operations, refine products and services, and cultivate strong customer loyalty. Bangalore is an IT hub always bustling with SMEs and startups. Companies like CloudThat can help companies to embrace AI effectively and efficiently. Embracing AI is not merely an option but a necessity for SMEs looking to achieve rapid development and improvement in their businesses. Recognising this need prepares SMEs for the opportunities that lie ahead in the evolving business landscape.

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