The world is currently in the midst of a rapid technological evolution powered by the widespread adoption of intelligent technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation. Industries around the world are enthusiastically embracing these cutting-edge technologies, aiming to position themselves as early adopters and harness the associated advantage.
In parallel with large enterprises, Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) are standing at the threshold of a significant transformation. The era of Autonomous SMBs is upon us, and it holds the potential to fundamentally redefine work practices and business operations.
SMBs are already playing a significant role in the US economy, contributing 43% to its GDP and representing a critical market for Technology Providers. There are currently 33.2 Mn SMBs in the US alone, with over half a million new ones emerging each month. These SMBs are responsible for over 60% of new job creation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These businesses make outsize contributions to growth, innovation, and livelihoods in the US and could be easily termed as the pulse of the US economy.
Though the SMBs grew along with the economy, their technology adoption has been slower compared to larger enterprises. This has also resulted in them not reaping the benefits of productivity gains of the technology adoption. A lack of capital, an understanding of the right tools to invest in, and a dearth of providers who cater to SMBs’ niche needs.
As the world has evolved at a far greater pace than ever before, multiple tools and services are enabling the democratization of cutting-edge technologies. Not only are they becoming increasingly user-friendly, they are also delivering immediate benefits and breaking down barriers to adoption, making it easier for aspiring business owners to turn their ideas into reality. Accessibility, ease of use and deployment will be the key factors in propelling the rapid adoption of digital technologies by SMBs.
SMBs are at an inflection point where an Automation and Hyperintelligent Revolution is underway – where technologies will complement each other and work in conjunction to drive productivity. SMBs will not only catch up with large enterprises but might even race ahead of them in realizing productivity gains, as the barriers to adoption are fewer, concerning privacy and governance.
This democratization of digital technologies enables SMBs to establish their online presence within a day, harnessing technology to reduce their dependence on physical infrastructure, extensive tech teams, and specialized experts. Technologies like AI, Automation, and Cloud are enabling SMBs to operate a staggering 20% faster than their traditional counterparts. As a result, productivity is soaring, with an average increase of 17%. The rise of an ecosystem supported by Automation and AI-driven services is gradually rendering the traditional concept of business functions obsolete.
This transformation means that cash-strapped and talent-limited SMBs are well-positioned to reap significant rewards from new tools that enable them to narrow the gap with larger enterprises in terms of productivity, digital user experience, and data-driven insights. Our projections indicate that Automation and Hyperintelligent technologies will propel SMB growth at an astonishing rate, potentially doubling their count to approximately 42 Mn by 2030.
With AI-powered next-generation technologies disrupting the nature of work, they are ushering in a new era of Autonomous firms where –
Though the SMB technology stack is fairly modular today, segments will consolidate into unified platforms. As platforms like Shopify, Bigcommerce, Toast, and WooCommerce improve their plug-and-play capabilities to offer an end-to-end integrated stack, they will enable rapid adoption of technologies, thus simplifying deployment, training, and integration. Also, Autonomous SMBs will move from Systems of Record (SOR) such as Product Lifecycle Management, Financial Information System, Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Human Resource Management, etc., to Systems of Intelligence (SOI) comprised of Performance Optimization, Real-time Financial Insights, Virtual Product Showcasing, Automated Project Workflows, Virtual Training/Onboarding, and Proactive Monitoring, to name a few.
As more and more SMBs transition into Autonomous SMBs, we are poised to witness a surge in independent businesses, driven by a growing number of workers liberating themselves from traditional organizational constraints that once tethered them to specific roles. At the heart of this transformation lie essential human skills, guiding the implementation and effective utilization of these technologies. This profound shift promises to unlock and elevate human creativity and cognitive capabilities, marking a pivotal advancement in the business landscape.
This transition has the potential to yield a remarkable 25% boost in overall productivity. Such a revolution could, in turn, have a far-reaching impact on the global economy, as SMBs embrace autonomy and intelligence, propelling innovation, enhancing efficiency, and contributing significantly to economic growth.
In this Zinnov report, ‘Autonomous SMBs: Augmented by Automation, Differentiated by Intelligence,’ we delve deep into the transformative journey of SMBs as they navigate the landscape of next-generation technologies and metamorphose into Autonomous SMBs. This report provides invaluable insights into the changing dynamics of SMBs in the US economy, their pivotal role in job creation and innovation, and how they are harnessing the power of Automation, AI, and advanced tools to enhance their productivity and competitiveness.