It’s probably not surprising that 58% of consumers and 77% of commercial buyers say that technology has significantly changed their expectations as to how businesses should interact with them. After all, technology has transformed our world in the last decade. But can small businesses compete with their larger counterparts in a world increasingly focused on technology? How small are today’s small businesses technophiles?

To answer this question, we interviewed about 500 small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) executives in the United States, and what we found might surprise you. In fact, small and medium businesses are increasingly adopting CRM, linking their data between departments, and adding artificial intelligence elements. Here are three things we learned from the research. (Download the full report on small and medium business trends for more information).

1. CRM has become a building block for SME growth.

SMEs are almost always limited in time and short of resources, which usually means that new technology is a chimera. (This is a kind of enigma of the chicken and the egg: a new technology would give them more time, but who has time to explore and implement this new technology.) Once implemented, CRM helps you find, earn and retain is what leads to growth. This is perhaps why growing SMEs are twice as likely as their stagnant counterparts to rely on CRM in their daily lives.

Taking this a step further, CRM quickly becomes essential for those who adopt. Growing SMEs say that instead of losing their CRM, they prefer to abandon social media (34%), sleep on a bed of nails (20%) or walk on hot coals (19%). It’s a serious CRM love right there.

2. SMEs connect their data between departments.

Why do so many SMEs choose to rely on CRM? One explanation is that CRM is the kernel that powers this coveted 360 ° customer view. To get this coveted view, 56% of growing SMEs believe that it’s important to connect all their business data to their current size, while 69% of growing SMEs think it’s important to connect all their business data in the future. In addition, 82% of SME managers surveyed said that it was important to have businesses connected to the same place – while 49% said it was absolutely essential.

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3. SMEs are slowly evolving into artificial intelligence.

We know from our latest report on technology trends that 61% of small business owners said their businesses are not ready for AI, citing them too complex for their business. needs. Yet, those who implement the AI ​​elements are experiencing significant growth.

So AI has not fully infiltrated the SME market, but the data is promising. Example: SMEs experiencing “fast growth” are more than twice as likely to use artificial intelligence as their stagnant counterparts.

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While only 11% of SMEs surveyed say they currently use AI, those who benefit have found great benefits:

  • 85% Automate Time to Send Marketing E-mails
  • 81% use predictive forecasts for sales
  • 81% automate basic answers for customer service
  • 81% automate recommendations for customers

Check out our complete infographic to see these trends in an easy-to-read snapshot.

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Images via Salesforce

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