Small businesses are already leveraging automation technologies to manage and grow their businesses. Those are the findings from the latest Intuit® Emergent Research study, “Small Business in the Age of AI,” which offers a window into the mindset, attitudes and uses of cutting edge automation technology by small businesses, now and in the future.
The study surveyed 550 small business owners and managers, and found that small businesses view automation technology positively, with 54 percent saying they view automation technology primarily as an opportunity. While fear of technological innovation is often referenced as the underlying barrier for adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), only five percent of respondents said they see automation primarily as a threat. In fact, very few small businesses think that automation technology will lead to job losses, with almost a third (31 percent) saying automation will allow them to grow their employee base, 59 percent saying there will be no difference and just one percent saying there will be significant job losses.
The study also found that of those surveyed, 66 percent were already using automation technologies to help them with a variety of functions, including: finance and billing (29 percent), marketing (28 percent), sales (27 percent), customer service (25 percent), operations (15 percent) and production (nine percent).
“At QuickBooks, we’re focused on harnessing the power of innovative technology to improve the lives of our small business customers – giving them more time, money, connections and insights to run their businesses effectively and efficiently,” said Alex Chriss, Chief Product Officer, Small Business Group, at Intuit. “It’s encouraging that small business ownersview automation tech as an opportunity – not a threat – and are embracing these breakthrough technologies for the betterment of their businesses. In fact, our QuickBooks customers are using features like Auto Categorization daily to automate previously tedious processes, opening their time up to better serve customers and grow their business.”
The study found that small business owners see vital benefits of automation technology, namely freeing up time to get more work done (79 percent), helping with customer service (77 percent), and boosting innovation (74 percent). These imnprovements are being driven by leading edge automation tech, including big data analytics (24 percent), natural language processing (17 percent), machine learning (12 percent) and artificial intelligence (11 percent).
Intuit Customers Leading with Automation
Intuit customers are already leveraging automation technologies, including AI and machine learning, to automate tasks that might otherwise take valuable time and money. In fact, by incorporating automation capabilities into Intuit products, small businesses can easily make their data in QuickBooks® work more effectively for them, with benefits ranging from tax savings to categorization of expenses, which can be time-consuming tasks. Through the QuickBooks product vision and the power of the QuickBooks ecosystem, Intuit is transforming how people work for themselves, intelligently anticipating critical turning points and making customers smarter and more confident in the decisions they need to make for their business. Current automation features within the QuickBooks product suite include:
- QuickBooks Auto Categorization: Doing the categorization or organization for you, QuickBooks Auto Categorization learns from your previous transactions what an expense, income or mileage should be categorized as, and automatically files for you in the appropriate category.
- QuickBooks Payments Automated Invoicing: Small business owners spend hours every day on the tedious process of invoicing and billing their clients. Automated invoicing features within QuickBooks allow businesses to keep track of which accounts are paid and which ones are overdue, schedule invoices for reoccurring accounts, and quickly convert estimates to invoices.
- Manage Your Business with G Suite and QuickBooks: confirm permissions from G Suite Many small business owners use G Suiteto book and manage appointments or communicate with clients. With the G Suite and QuickBooks integration, small business owners can integrate QuickBooks with their Google Calendar and Gmail so they can automatically create invoices directly from Google calendar or Gmail by clicking the QuickBooks icon.
- QuickBooks Self-Employed ExpenseFinder: Harnessing the power of machine learning, ExpenseFinder automatically identifies business expenses by combing through bank and credit card transactions. Going back as far as one calendaryear, the feature helps users compile possible deductions, the same way he or she would by sitting with a box of receipts and a stack of accountant statements.
In the future, small businesses expect automation to have continued benefits. Over the next five years, respondents said that the top five reasons automation will have a positive impact include business efficiency (73 percent), productivity (68 percent), innovation (62 percent), responsiveness to market changes (60 percent) and revenue (59 percent).