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Small Businesses Turn to Humans—Not AI—to Boost Productivity

For all the talk of AI increasing productivity, small companies are instead turning to talent to do the work, a Deloitte survey found.

By Sarah Lynch, Inc. (TNS)

AI could have the power to promote productivity, but many company leaders are prioritizing a different tactic: upskilling and hiring skilled talent.

Just 8% of U.S. private company leaders in a new Deloitte survey say that AI is currently boosting their organization’s productivity. And the smaller companies in the survey were even less likely to say they were prioritizing investments in “advanced technology,” like AI, to boost productivity in the next year: Just 16% of companies with annual revenues under $500 million planned to lean on AI versus 44% of companies with revenues north of that threshold.

Instead, those smaller companies aim to use their talent more effectively, ranking “reskilling and upskilling existing employees” as their top priority for driving increased results. Even among larger companies—more interested in prioritizing AI—hiring qualified or skilled talent is still their main productivity play.

Employers’ focus on skilled talent is growing. Jobs requiring a college degree fell from 51% in 2017 to 44% in 2022, according to the Burning Glass Institute, a nonprofit focused on the future of work and workers. And in the next five years, employers expect that approximately “44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted,” according to a report from the World Economic Forum. Thus, hiring for skills, and training existing team members on new skills, could become even more crucial.

But that doesn’t mean these company leaders don’t see AI being a powerful booster in the future. In fact, 87% of respondents in the survey anticipated seeing AI-driven productivity improvements in just the next three years.

For now, leaders say, skilled talent is the ticket.


(c) 2024 Mansueto Ventures LLC; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.