By Tim Day, Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC)
Technology has changed the global economy and our business landscape several times over, and we're in the midst of yet another fundamental shift. Advances in artificial intelligence and the decreasing cost of computing power promise to change the way people work and communicate over the next century. Just as the industrial revolution empowered entrepreneurs to build iconic enterprises like Ford and Black & Decker, there are already signs of how the digital revolution is helping Main Street take a competitive edge.
Small and medium-sized businesses power American commerce, comprising 99 percent of firms in the country. By hiring employees, promoting workforce diversity, and fostering increased participation in the global marketplace, these business owners strengthen local communities as well as the U.S. economy. Increasingly, these entrepreneurs count on technology to start and scale their companies.
We know that technology supports millions of small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. Just think about how Amazon enables online sales, or consider all the digital shopfronts that have popped up on platforms like Facebook and eBay. Everything from the way consumers find and purchase products and services to the way small businesses market and ship their wares continues to be shaken up by new technologies. With each new innovation, small and medium-sized business owners gain improved tools for running their businesses and engaging with potential customers.
However, the transition to a digital economy is happening so rapidly that we are still just beginning to understand the extent to which technology is transforming the playing field for the small business sector. Since we already know that more than 70 million small businesses around the world actively use Facebook, we used this as a jumping off point to better understand the role of digital platforms in the development, and the future, of U.S. small businesses.
To gain more answers, the Chamber Technology Engagement Center, a policy hub at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recently partnered with Morning Consult to poll 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses, or those with fewer than 500 employees. Here is just a sample of what we learned about small and medium-sized businesses generally as well as how they are using technology to fuel growth.