How we feel about AI at work
New research reveals how Kiwi small business owners and operators are feeling about the use of artificial intelligence in their workplaces, and the impact it’s having on their operations. Despite New Zealand being a country of fast tech-adopters, responses from Kiwi businesses indicate that we may be on the backfoot with incorporating AI into the […]
New research reveals how Kiwi small business owners and operators are feeling about the use of artificial intelligence in their workplaces, and the impact it’s having on their operations.
Despite New Zealand being a country of fast tech-adopters, responses from Kiwi businesses indicate that we may be on the backfoot with incorporating AI into the workplace, with 65% of SMEs stating that they do not yet use it.
The survey of 79,000 businesses across five countries – Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK – was conducted by Peninsula Group to look at the opportunities and concerns employers have around the use of AI in the workplace.
Thirty percent of employers globally cite security risk as their biggest concern around AI in the workplace. Increased margin of error, impact on the team’s work quality and/or productivity, and the risk of losing intellectual property also ranked high on the list of concerns.
Where businesses have incorporated AI into the business, the majority are using it for administrative tasks (40%) or creative writing (35%). A third of businesses in Ireland that use AI are using it for customer services, while a quarter of Australian employers and a third of Canadian employers are using AI to draft internal or company communications.
Other key findings include:
- More than 50% of employers in Australia, Canada, and Ireland who use AI are unsure of its impact.
- Ireland has embraced AI the most of the five countries surveyed, with ten percent of Irish employees saying it’s regularly used in their business – double that of Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.
- Only a third of employers believe AI has the potential to positively transform many workplaces.
- Canadians are the most cautious, with 17% of employers believing that AI will be highly detrimental and 13% saying they are fearful of the unknown elements around AI.
- Australia was the only country where fear of the unknown with AI and how it impacts business finished in the top 3 responses.
- 40% of employers globally believe people are irreplaceable in their business.
- Over half of employers are either unsure or believe that AI will probably reduce the number of people employed at their company at some point.
Employsure New Zealand Associate Director of Operations, Laurence McLean (pictured), says “Throughout history, mechanical and technological advances have played a significant role in the changing face of industry, streamlining processes, reducing labour costs, and increasing productivity. AI is the latest in a long line of innovations – and it’s clear from these results that employers’ opinions are divided.
“While many can see the benefits of AI, there are still significant concerns around security, increased margin of error, and potential loss of intellectual property that need to be addressed before we will see widespread implementation across global businesses.
“What is surprising is the low percentage of employers who are currently embracing AI. Australia leads the way with 41% of businesses currently using AI in some way or another, compared to New Zealand where only 35% of businesses have started to use AI.
“I expected this to be much higher for a country of fast tech adopters,” McLean says.
“The concerns around security make sense, given the general risk for employers opening themselves up for potential cyber attacks with increased use of unregulated AI platforms.
“Despite AI not being widely utilised at work yet, it’s interesting to see that those who are using it are seeing a positive impact on their business, with only two percent stating that it’s been a negative experience for them.
“It’s this combination of AI and personal knowledge that I think will be most valuable to employers as we see more and more integration and uptake in businesses around the world. Speeding up processes and freeing up people’s time to concentrate on providing the best service to clients, using their knowledge to solve complex problems with the personal touch and human interaction that is so valuable, even in this digital age.”
Key New Zealand findings:
- Despite New Zealand being a country of fast tech-adopters, we’re on the back foot with incorporating the use of AI into the workplace with 65% of SMEs stating that they do not utilise AI yet.
- Top three key functions for AI use are creative writing (19.3%), administration tasks (16%), and assisting with customer services (8.4%)
- Almost a quarter (23.2%) of small businesses using AI say it’s had a positive impact on their business, with only 2% say they’ve seen negative impacts.
- More than half (52%) of Kiwi SMEs believe that the use of AI at work is useful or has the potential to positively impact their business (52%).
- More than half (52%) of Kiwi SMEs state that AI won’t reduce its workforce, however, nearly one quarter (24%) say that it already has or probably will at some point.