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AI for all: ‘AI is no longer just for big businesses’: Schneider Electric VP

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Businesses are recognizing the vast potential of AI and are investing heavily. 

Nearly half (48%) of Australian organizations are planning a company-wide approach to AI, with significant financial backing. This trend is further fuelled by the focus on embedded AI, which 43% of organizations see as a top priority this year.

A new survey by Schneider Electric, a leader in energy management and automation, paints a clear picture: small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Australia and New Zealand are jumping on the AI bandwagon. The survey polled 500 SMBs and revealed a surge in AI investment, with two-thirds increasing their IT budgets specifically for AI. Nearly half (46%) expect this trend to continue with significant funding boosts in the next five years. This enthusiasm is driven by a belief in AI as a key driver of growth and innovation.

The survey delves deeper, exploring how SMBs are approaching AI. Interestingly, 43% of respondents identified integrating AI seamlessly into their operations (embedded AI) as their top focus for 2024. However, security and data management remain hurdles, with over 42% citing them as the biggest barriers to adoption.

The research also suggests a hybrid approach to AI infrastructure is likely, with a mix of edge computing, cloud computing, and on-premises solutions being most popular. Interestingly, 80% of SMBs see edge environments as crucial for AI solutions, and nearly half believe AI-generated video will have the most significant impact on their businesses.

Here are some key takeaways from a recent survey:

Company-wide AI adoption: Nearly half (48%) of Australian organizations plan a significant investment in AI, taking a company-wide approach.

Focus on embedded AI: Integration of AI within existing systems (embedded AI) is a top priority for 43% of respondents this year.

Growing AI investment: The future looks bright for AI funding, with nearly half (46%) anticipating substantial increases in AI spending over the next five years.

Growth and cost management in focus: For Australian businesses, growth remains the top priority, alongside effective cost management.

Security concerns remain a hurdle: Despite the enthusiasm, security and data management are the biggest challenges to AI adoption, identified by over 42% of respondents.

Hybrid approach to AI infrastructure: A mix of on-premises solutions, cloud computing, and edge computing is likely to be the norm for AI projects.

Edge computing gaining traction: A significant majority (80%) of businesses recognize the importance of edge environments for AI solutions, and edge upgrades are anticipated.

“These findings paint a clear picture: AI is no longer just for big businesses, and organisations of all sizes and sectors are looking to leverage the technology to meet their growth, efficiency, and customer satisfaction targets,” said Joe Craparotta, Vice President of Secure Power from Schneider Electric.

“AI is already built into many platforms businesses use, but now there is an opportunity to unlock its capabilities to improve business outcomes,” he added. We know that AI also has enormous potential to help organisations make more intelligent decisions in the areas that are part of the solution to energy dilemma – operational efficiency, electrification, and digitisation,” he said. “We hope that this research will help SMBs leverage AI to drive more sustainability – in addition to operational efficiency – across their business.” 

To download the research, click here. To learn more about the results of this research and what it means for the Partner ecosystem, register to attend our 2024 Innovation Day: APC Channel Partners on 4 June 2024 here.

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