Many SMBs are all-in on AI – despite not really knowing what it can do for them – TechRadar

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The adoption of artificial intelligence among small and medium-sized businesses in the UK seems to have hit a crossroads, as while enthusiasm for AI tools is high, understanding and strategic planning lag behind, new research has claimed.

A report from NetApp found only half (51%) of IT decision-makers surveyed understand how AI can benefit their operations, and only one in five (20%) have a strong understanding of how to harness artificial intelligence.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding implementation, budgets are expected to increase in 2024 as leaders view AI as crucial to future success.

SMBs want AI, but they don’t know why

Around two in three (67%) ITDMs see AI as strategically important; however, concerns around implementation and delivery are growing, with two in five (42%) stating that their current AI adoption is not likely to deliver a return on investment.

Worryingly, 15% of the SMB participants revealed that they had only adopted AI because they saw it as “jumping on a trend.”

Moreover, it’s clear that uncertainty around how businesses can reap the benefits of AI is holding them back from investing, with only one in three ITDMS currently indicating that they’ve adopted AI tools.

Piero Gallucci, VP and GM for UK & Ireland at NetApp, emphasized the need for a more strategic approach to AI adoption:

“It’s clear many companies are running before they can walk in order to remain competitive. While our industry often boasts a fail-fast culture, businesses need to approach AI more strategically. Poor decisions made now could have lasting consequences to long term effectiveness.”

UK Head for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Analytics, Kirsty Biddiscombe, added that AI is only as good as the data that powers it, urging businesses to consider improvements to their data infrastructure rather than focusing on shiny new AI tools.

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