Businesses boost AI investment, embrace new IT architecture, research reveals

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Companies across Australia and New Zealand are increasing their investments in artificial intelligence (AI), recognising it as a key driver of growth and innovation, according to a new survey commissioned by Schneider Electric.

The analysis, which surveyed 500 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), revealed two-thirds of respondents reported increasing their IT budgets this year, with nearly half predicting substantial funding increases for AI over the next five years.

Notably, 43 per cent of respondents identified embedded AI as their top focus for the year.

The research, titled “The Essential Guide to Understanding AI for SMB and Mid-Market Leaders in Australia and New Zealand,” examines AI’s expanding role and its potential to spur growth and innovation for SMBs.

It explores AI use cases across industries and highlights key considerations for AI investments, including infrastructure, data management, security, personnel, processes, goal-setting, and the role of partner services.

Key insights from the research include widespread AI opportunities with 48 per cent of Australian organisations plan to take a company-wide approach to AI with significant investment levels.

Additionally, 43 per cent stated that dealing with embedded AI would be their primary focus this year. Nearly half of the respondents, 46 per cent, anticipate a substantial increase in AI spending over the next five years.

Meanwhile, growth is the top business priority for Australian SMBs, with cost management remaining a key concern. Over 42 oer cent of respondents identified security and data as the main hurdles to AI adoption this year.

The research suggests a combination of edge computing, cloud computing, and on-premises environments will be most prevalent for AI projects.

Furthermore, 80 per cent of SMBs agreed that edge environments are crucial for AI solutions, with edge computing expected to be included in up to 10 per cent of AI projects.

The study also found that customer experience (CX) technology is the top investment priority in Australia, with IT modernization and security following closely behind.

Nearly half of those surveyed indicated that AI-generated film and video would have the highest and most urgent impact on their organizations.

“These findings paint a clear picture: AI is no longer just for big businesses, and organizations of all sizes and sectors are looking to leverage the technology to meet their growth, efficiency, and customer satisfaction targets,” said Joe Craparotta, vice president of Secure Power at Schneider Electric.

“AI is already built into many platforms businesses use, but now there is an opportunity to unlock its capabilities to improve business outcomes,” he added.

“We know that AI also has enormous potential to help organizations make more intelligent decisions in areas such as operational efficiency, electrification, and digitization.”

Craparotta emphasized the importance of AI in driving sustainability and operational efficiency across businesses.