LinkedIn’s Ashutosh Gupta says small and medium-sized businesses in the region are turning to AI as a powerful tool to revolutionise business strategy and grow their revenue.

AI has quickly become an integral facet of our lives, considering the digital jungle we live in today. When the pandemic stormed the world in 2020, it became an indispensable ally for businesses worldwide. It prompted a critical question reverberating across the globe – innovate or perish? 

In the face of adversity, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across Asia Pacific emerged as resilient pioneers, boldly embracing generative AI and other marketing technology (martech) solutions to thrive under difficult economic conditions. According to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, they account for over 97% of all businesses and employ over half of the workforce across APEC economies.

The lookahead for SMBs

Surprisingly, during these challenging times, instead of tightening budgets and streamlining operations, SMBs seized the opportunity to harness AI's potential and propel themselves towards growth. SMBs recognised that they now had a powerful tool at their disposal that can revolutionise their business strategies.

Consider Learnbay, an India-based company offering specialised certification programs for working professionals. Faced with the pandemic's disruptions, Learnbay embarked on a bold journey into the realm of digital marketing. Today, a significant portion of its revenue is dedicated to marketing, with a strong emphasis on digital channels. Learnbay's success story is just one among many businesses that have embraced this transformative strategy, propelling themselves to remarkable heights.

The new era of smarter business

Enter the era of smarter business, with AI solutions as the secret weapon. A staggering amount of SMBs (71% Australia, 90% India) are investing in AI and automation for their marketing endeavours. Forward-thinking enterprises understand that to achieve their top priorities in 2023 – such as expanding their customer base, increasing business revenue and capturing a larger market share – AI is the key. 

A significant segment of businesses (71% in Australia and 91% in India) say they face challenges when it comes to creative marketing solutions. Businesses are exploring new ways to connect with customers with purpose and precision, and those that harness the power of AI will unlock the ability to deliver true value to their audience. With the SMB sector across APAC expanding rapidly, small businesses must effectively balance short-term activations with long-term brand building solutions to differentiate themselves from competitors and achieve sustainable growth.

Furthermore, LinkedIn research reveals a truth: only a small percentage of SMBs in APAC (India and Australia) plan to reduce their marketing budgets in the next 12 months. This reflects the confidence SMBs have in marketing as a crucial driver of business growth as they are willing to maintain or even increase their marketing budgets to increase revenue and remain competitive in the market.

Hurdles for SMBs to overcome

While the promise of AI is tempting for SMBs seeking marketing success, that doesn't mean everything will be easy. Limited budgets, lack of resources and the need to compete with larger businesses are just some of the hurdles that SMBs must overcome. 

In addition to these considerations, professionals need to adopt a growth mindset to thrive in the future job market. Skills have become the new currency and continuous learning is crucial to staying relevant and competitive. The rapidly changing job landscape highlights the need for continuous skill development. By placing a greater emphasis on skills and embracing lifelong learning, professionals can adapt to evolving job requirements and maintain their competitiveness in the market.

AI levels playing field for SMBs

But can SMBs truly compete with industry giants? The answer lies within the transformative power of AI. While SMBs often face resource constraints, including limited manpower, AI solutions level the playing field by enabling SMBs to maximise their resources efficiently and liberate valuable time for other critical aspects of their business. 

For instance, Coding Ninja utilises an ad managing service to provide precise targeting based on customer profiles, job positions, work experience and educational backgrounds. This enables a more efficient approach in reducing lead costs by approximately 40-50% and increasing lead eligibility by 20-30% compared to competitors. With AI and automation tools, businesses can free up staff time for higher-level work, deploy creative marketing strategies, optimise ROIs and meet business objectives effectively. 

Thriving amidst the vibrant and fiercely competitive Asian landscape demands a new breed of marketing solutions. SMBs must break free from the mould and discover innovative ways to captivate and engage their target audience. With AI as their trusted ally, SMBs can navigate the ever evolving business terrain, personalise customer experiences, optimise resource allocation and make data-driven decisions. In this age of AI, SMBs not only stand tall but also conquer the shadows cast by the giants of the corporate world.