A new report suggests 32 per cent of Canada's small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have subscribed to ChatGPT to simplify their operations, more than double compared to a year ago.

The Canadian Business Spending Trends report from the business financial services company Float, found 14 per cent of Canadian SMBs had a subscription in the first quarter of 2023, but that figure had jumped to 32 per cent a year later.

Rob Khazzam, CEO and co-founder of Float, called the level of artificial intelligence adoption “encouraging.”

“We're seeing a huge increase in focus on automation and AI to unlock the efficiency and productivity of Canadian workers,” Khazzam told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview on Monday.  

“It's become much more mainstream. It was about a year (or) year and a half ago we saw the release of ChatGPT that took the world by storm. It was very novel at the time, but now almost a third of businesses on Float are using it in some form.”

Khazzam added that companies aren’t just using AI to tackle some of the more mundane parts of the job, but it can be found in tasks throughout a business.

“What we're seeing is across an organization, whether it's the CEO, administration, sales, marketing, operations, engineering,” he said.

“The applications are wide and broad and just feed into this concept and this narrative of Canadian businesses need to see their dollars go further.”

When broken down by sector, tech companies with a ChatGPT subscription jumped from 25 per cent to 50 per cent, while non-tech jumped from 12 per cent to 26 per cent.

The report also found that companies have kept their spending relatively flat throughout the year, except for advertising, which also doubled.

“We're definitely seeing flat spending over a year with the exception of advertising,” Khazzam said.

“We see still tight-to-the-belt with spending, but still investing for growth (among) larger businesses, and medium-sized businesses that we serve.”

Khazzam suggested the increased ad spending could be a sign that businesses are ready to rebound.

“It's been almost two years of more of a lacklustre business spending environment,” he said. “Businesses have made the headcount reductions … and are now maybe starting to put the pedal on the gas a little bit more.”

The report did find some economic trepidation among the companies, however, as overall average monthly spending only climbed by $2,200, a sign of caution according to Float.

Meanwhile, larger companies are showing signs of a rebound, as firms with more than $1 million in revenue saw spending jump 37 per cent year-over-year.

"SMBs are the lifeblood of Canada's economy, and an essential part of the country's economic recovery,” Andrew Dale, senior vice-president of operations and financial products at Float, said in the report.

“We are seeing signs of midmarket and larger businesses leading the way in investing for growth, and hope to see the microSMB sector follow suit, accelerating economic growth and ensuring a more sustainable and equitable future for all Canadians."


Float processes credit card transaction data for thousands of Canadian SMBs. The report took a cross-section of 1,000 companies for the analysis.