Technology

AI use in enterprises, while small, is growing rapidly, led by the IT sector and companies in Colorado and DC

According to a new paper from researchers at the US Census Bureau, the share of companies in the US using AI is still relatively small but growing quickly, with companies in information technology and in locations such as Colorado and the District of Columbia leading the way.

Overall use of AI tools by companies in the production of goods and services rose from 3.7% last fall to 5.4% in February and is expected to rise to 6.6% in the U.S. by early fall, the study found The office’s “Business Trends and Outlook” survey was published in the spring.

Enterprise adoption of AI is still quite low because many companies have not yet identified the need for it, Census Bureau researchers said in an accompanying paper.

“Many small businesses such as barbershops, nail salons or dry cleaners may not yet see the benefit of AI, but that may change as business applications of AI increase,” they said. “One possible explanation is the current lack of AI applications for a variety of business problems.”

Few companies using AI tools reported laying off employees as a result. Instead, many companies using AI expanded compared to other companies. They also developed new workflows, trained staff on the technology and purchased related services, the researchers said.

The proportion of AI use varied widely across economic sectors, ranging from 1.4% in construction and agriculture to 18.1% in information technology. According to the researchers, larger companies were more likely to use the technology than small and medium-sized companies, but the smallest companies used it more often than medium-sized companies.

The type of work that most commonly used AI included marketing tasks, customer service chatbots, computer understanding of human languages, text and data analysis, and speech recognition.

Erik Paul, the chief operating officer of a software development company in Orlando, has been using AI tools for about a year to create images for marketing materials, help write compliance documents, which can be laborious, and create different versions of documentation for products to compare.

“It’s become a regular part of our day,” Paul said Thursday. “But the problem is, you can’t trust him. You can never copy and paste blindly. Sometimes the context gets confused and incorrect details are inserted that are unhelpful or change the tone of the topic you are writing about.”

The two places with the nation’s highest AI adoption by businesses, Colorado and the District of Columbia, saw adoption rates of 7.4% and 7.2%, respectively. Not far behind were Florida, Delaware, California and Washington State. Mississippi had the lowest AI use at 1.7% of companies.

The survey showed some uncertainty among companies about whether they will adopt or continue to use AI in their organizations in the near future. Two-thirds of companies not yet using AI said they expected not to remain users, and 14% of companies not yet using the technology were unsure whether they would continue to do so in the future .

Around 14% of current users said they did not expect to continue using AI in the near future, “perhaps indicating some level of ongoing experimentation or temporary use that could lead to a shift away from adoption.” said the researchers.

The Census Bureau plans to continue tracking AI use by companies, Ron Jarmin, deputy director of the Census Bureau, said Thursday.

“For the first time, as far as I know, we are able to measure the penetration of a general-purpose technology into the economy and find out what impact it has,” Jarmin said.

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Follow Mike Schneider on X, formerly known as Twitter: @MikeSchneiderAP.

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