Small businesses increasingly investing in AI to reduce paperwork and drive profit: NAB survey

Cheyanne Enciso
The West Australian
2 Min Read
One in five Australian small businesses are planning to invest in artificial intelligence.
One in five Australian small businesses are planning to invest in artificial intelligence. Credit: tungnguyen0905/Pixabay (user tungnguyen0905)

One in five Australian small businesses are planning to invest in artificial intelligence, new research has found, as the technology rapidly evolves and looks likely to become transformative across industries.

A fresh report from National Australia Bank also revealed 23 per cent of small businesses have already made an investment into the technology. Over half of firms expect AI tools to cut administration time in half.

NAB executive for small business Ana Marinkovic said there was “absolutely” an increase in investment into AI to reduce paperwork and increase profit, but warned there was still a way to go.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.
NAB executive for small business Ana Marinkovic.
NAB executive for small business Ana Marinkovic. Credit: Supplied/NAB

“The speed of AI technologies is advancing and large corporations are obviously able to benefit from that technology much quicker . . . but that doesn’t mean that small businesses can remain complacent about it,” she said.

Investment into AI was most prolific in WA and SA where three in 10 small businesses have done so.

Ms Marinkovic said education and understanding how machine learning and AI could automate business management could drive the take-up.

“SMEs in Australia are facing a higher interest rate environment, we still have a level of labour shortage, some of them are still dealing with disrupted supply chains,” she said.

“A lot of the businesses are having to trade off and prioritise and make choices in terms of where they invest and sometimes (AI) is just not front of mind.”

WA had the highest number of small businesses who understood the concept of AI and how it could assist operations (at 33 per cent), while Queensland had the lowest (25 per cent).

The bank this week launched its new NAB Bookkeeper tool that uses machine learning, a form of AI, to help reduce administration time for small businesses by up to five hours a week. The tool provides customers with automated accounting, invoicing and tax calculations via NAB’s internet banking.

“What has forever been an issue for small business owners or sole traders is the lack of time,” Ms Marinkovic said.

“They often talk to us about the fact that they’ve got to work in the business, they have to work on the business and then there is the whole admin component of invoicing, reconciliations, managing cash flows.”

On the outlook for small businesses, Ms Marinkovic said the bank remained optimistic.

“Business conditions for SMEs also eased in the quarter . . . but they’re still close to the long-run average,” she said.

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 14-06-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 14 June 202414 June 2024

Tesla investors deliver Elon Musk an 11-cylinder salary.