The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today released a new nationwide survey and economic analysis examining the impact technology platforms have on small businesses and the economy.
This analysis, which was conducted in partnership with Teneo Research and is the second edition of the Chamber’s Empowering Small Business report, finds that high technology adoption—including artificial intelligence—leads to growth and optimism among U.S. small businesses, even as they navigate the challenges of a post-pandemic economy and express concerns over potential tech regulations.
“Small businesses not only play an integral role in our communities, but they also serve as the lifeblood for America’s economic growth and prosperity,” said Jordan Crenshaw, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC). “By leveraging technology, small businesses are proving to be more resilient, determined, and innovative than ever as they confront persistent inflationary, workforce, and supply chain challenges.”
According to the analysis, higher technology usage among U.S. small businesses is correlated with growth in sales, employment, and profits. Notably, 23 percent of the small businesses surveyed are using artificial intelligence. Those same companies saw a 12-point increase over non-AI users in their likelihood to see an increase in profit.
“It is promising to see the continued growth in the adoption and use of technology platforms and for businesses to see in real-time the positive impact they have on their operations. This makes it even more vital for U.S. policymakers to consider small businesses when contemplating tech related policies and regulations as they run the risk of hampering technology adoption and starving businesses of all sizes the benefits of these platforms, especially for AI,” concluded Crenshaw.
As in the first edition of the report, the results demonstrate that various technology platforms have played a critical role in helping small businesses weather challenges and, those that fully embrace technology, outperform their peers and are more optimistic about the future.
- Slightly more than in 2022, 95 percent of small business owners in the U.S. report using at least one type of technology platform in the running of their business.
- Technology and data are seen as the backbone of operations for many small businesses, with 87 percent reporting that technology platforms have helped their businesses operate more efficiently.
- For small businesses with very-high tech usage—those that use six or more types of technology—four out of five report growth in sales, employment, and profits. Notably, 79 percent of the high-tech adopters reported growing employment compared with only 62 percent of low-tech adopters.
- Seventy-eight percent of small businesses reported that technology platforms helped them cope with burdens of inflation and supply chain disruptions without passing rising costs on to consumers.
- Seven out of ten small business owners agree that without access to technology platforms, their businesses would struggle to survive.
- Nearly three in four small businesses articulated that tech helped them compete with larger companies and that same number indicated that losing access to data would harm their operations.
- Most small businesses are also worried about having to navigate a complex patchwork of state AI and privacy laws.
When it comes to the future, 85 percent of small businesses expect to increase their use of technology over the next two to three years and 71 percent plan to use at least one form of emerging and cutting-edge technologies. Thirty-nine percent of small businesses reported plans to add AI to their digital toolkit, which is higher than the projected future use of other ‘newer technologies’ analyzed in this study. However, the lack of knowledge around AI technology will need to be addressed first, since 77 percent of small businesses indicated that they do not know enough about AI or claim its benefits are unclear, making the education gap the single most common barrier to entry for this technology.
To accompany this analysis, the Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center issued a set of recommendations for policymakers that would promote technological development and adoption to ensure small businesses can continue to compete and thrive in the 21st-century economy. These recommendations include enacting smart, national data privacy legislation that protects all Americans equally and preserves the benefits of a modern digital economy, as well as establishing a risk-based regulatory framework that enables the responsible and ethical deployment of artificial intelligence.
The full analysis and C_TEC’s policy recommendations can be found here.