Nearly 2 out of 3 Small Business Employees Say AI Can Increase or Retain Headcount, According to New Cox Business Survey

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

Despite the headlines touting AI as human replacement, most small business owners and employees surveyed by Cox Business view the technology as a tool to strengthen and grow their teams.

Cox Business surveyed small business owners and employees to better understand their usage of and sentiment on AI in the workplace. Fifty-two percent of small business owners said AI enables them to increase or retain employees, and 65% of small business employees said the same.

Enhancing customer experience

Both small business owners and employees feel they have a good grasp on what AI is and feel comfortable using the tools within their organization:

  • 85% of owners are somewhat to very comfortable using AI tools in their business.

  • 75% of employees are somewhat to very comfortable using AI tools in their business.

Fifty-three percent of small business owners report AI had a positive impact on customer experience in 2023, and plan to use AI to support the customer experience in several ways this year:

  • 36%: Online order product/service recommendations

  • 35%: Online order placement

  • 35%: Website live chatbot

  • 33%: Customer service calls

A boon for growing businesses

Two-thirds of small business owners invested in AI for their company last year and 53% plan to invest in AI even more in 2024.

The data clearly shows that small and medium-sized businesses are embracing AI," said Mark Greatrex, president of Cox Communications. "Leveraging AI to boost productivity and enhance the customer experience empowers entrepreneurs to take their business to the next level and prosper. With our generative AI practice at RapidScale, we are making it easier to realize the benefits faster."

Help wanted

Currently, 75% of small business owners say they are responsible for their company's AI implementation and operations. And even though more owners and employees say their company did not feel much impact from last year's IT labor shortage, 42% of owners that did see an impact, having experienced decreased revenue. The 43% of employees that saw an impact experienced:

  • 43%: Added job responsibility
  • 40%: Increased stress in the workplace
  • 38%: Longer hours worked

"For SMBs with limited technology resources, building AI models specific to their business can be intimidating," said Jeff Breaux, executive vice president of Cox Business. "But the engineers at RapidScale can make Generative AI accessible and guide businesses on the right deployments to improve a variety of use cases. From building the optimal data resources to training the machine learning models, we can make Generative AI achievable for a wider set of businesses looking for a powerful new growth engine."