Channel markets, AI/ML

Why SMBs Should Adopt AI (and How You Can Help)

Why the financial sector must embrace AI

By Tracy Holtz, vice president, cloud solutions, Americas, TD SYNNEX

AI and SMBs: Two acronyms that make for one great opportunity. If artificial intelligence (that first acronym) is taking the world by storm, then small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the storm chasers hopping on board and gaining speed.

AI Helps SMBs Level the Playing Field

Generative AI can be used by SMBs in marketing and content creation as well as customer support (chatbots). When we think of AI, most consider applications like these and other more menial or repetitive tasks. With a new AI assistant on board, small businesses gain back time to focus on more profitable endeavors, like forming connections with customers. But now, we’re also finding that AI is helping SMBs gather insights and turn a profit.

A recent study by Salesforce found that the top three uses of AI by SMBs were to:

  1. Improve business insights.
  2. Increase revenue.
  3. Enhance customer experience.

With generative AI technology, SMBs are democratizing innovation. As a generally more agile group, they can see beyond the menial to the meaningful.

According to a GoDaddy survey conducted this year, more than two-thirds of small businesses (68%) see AI as a tool that helps them compete with larger organizations. And 75% believe it will give them a competitive edge against businesses of a similar size.

AI is helping SMBs level the playing field with larger enterprises. With more hands on deck and the dexterity to act when the winds of change are blowing, small businesses are leaders in AI adoption. But are you ready to guide them?

Preparing SMBs Starts With You

How confident are you in advising customers on the best way to implement AI into their businesses? A customer’s AI readiness plan can take time and expertise to build. If you’re not sure where to begin with AI, I typically make three recommendations when getting started:

  1. Seek Out AI-Specific Training

Whether overviews of specific AI solutions, product demos or a one-on-one with a subject matter expert, seek it out. Take the webinar that reviews essential security foundations and complete a course on prompt engineering. By the end, you’ll be more knowledgeable and more confident. With the trajectory of AI in our marketplace, it’s surely worth your time.

  • Get Certified

When searching for AI learning opportunities, consider ones that give you certifications. These are typically more structured, but they also give you a gold star to stand out from your competitors. There are many resellers who say they’re knowledgeable in AI but wearing your badge of honor is what helps give you a little extra shine by telling customers you’re serious from the beginning. TD SYNNEX, for example, offers reseller customers complimentary training courses centered around several Microsoft certification exams, including Azure AI Fundamentals. 

  • Work With a Team

I know as well as you do that it’s tough to keep track of all the AI developments in the market, especially if that’s not all you’re selling. Whether within your company or a community outside of it, make sure you aren’t walking this new path alone. Find a team that will share knowledge, do’s and don’ts, tips and tricks — you name it.

Recommending AI Solutions to SMBs

There are more than a handful of AI technology solutions out there: which one you recommend to a customer can depend on the use case, security features and availability, among other factors. Some are stand-alone and others are built directly into the tools you and your customers use every day.

For example, earlier this year, Microsoft announced the general availability for Copilot for Microsoft 365. This was significant news because it meant businesses of any size could leverage the power of AI. Plus, it created new opportunities for partners to deliver a simplified and easy transition to an AI-powered business.

TD SYNNEX also made the news after engaging thousands of partners in an enablement journey built for Copilot for Microsoft 365 and the broader AI landscape. From technical to operational trainings, certifications to share with your customers and resources that continue to evolve with each update, this program is designed to give you a competitive edge in the complex AI marketplace. It’s everything I typically recommend when getting started in AI, but it’s put together for you by a team of experts who are ready to help.

Be Their Trusted Advisors

Your SMB customers may see the benefits of investing in AI solutions but they don’t always see an easy or straight path forward. With training and a supportive team, you can guide them to prepare for AI integration and optimize their processes along the way with enhanced security and greater innovation. Remember, it’s a momentous time. Don’t hide from the storm — learn how to hop on board and maximize it.