AI & Small Business: The Concerns, The Benefits, and The Tools

We frequently find ourselves being asked about the risks of AI & small business, and it's certainly not only our clients who are worried; a recent Xero report found that 80% of small businesses globally are concerned about the impact the rise of AI will have.

What Small Businesses Are Worried About:

The key concerns are whether AI development and adoption will outpace regulation, commoditise services, and ultimately take more and more jobs away from hardworking humans. But, as we tell our clients, it’s important to understand that AI is not some new and terrifying digital development; it’s been around for a long time. Machine learning dates back to the 1970s, and the algorithms have been around for many years; we’re just seeing AI more prominently now because computing power has increased.

5 Benefits of AI for Small Business

  1. The automation of routine tasks allows businesses to optimise their processes and reallocate human resources to a more impactful area.
  2. AI enhances task efficiency with rapid uptake and minimal training needs, enabling businesses to integrate advanced tech more easily.
  3. Workers are more empowered and job satisfaction is increased with AI’s removal of manual and remedial tasks.
  4. Automation is cost-effective; with technology's efficiencies, operational expenses can be vastly reduced and budgets can be freed up for more strategic investments.
  5. Businesses can acquire additional and diverse skills cost-effectively through AI technologies and their augmentation of human capabilities, ultimately building themselves a competitive edge.

5 of our Favourite AI Tools:


Positioned for the next generation of business leaders, this platform aims to humanise the interaction between people and data. It uses conversational AI to help empower decision making.


This AI-driven finance assistant is clear that it wants to “not let AI replace accountants and bookkeepers”; instead it’s designed to help small businesses complete “the admin you don't want to do”.

Zia (by Zoho):

Zia bills itself as the AI-powered assistant for business. Developed by Zoho, it’s embedded in their suite of applications and strives to enhance productivity by automating tasks, offering insights and facilitating smarter business operations.


This enterprise player, which counts juggernauts like Canon and EY as customers, is a leading robotic process automation (RPA) platform that leverages AI to complete repetitive tasks and streamline workflows.


Promising users “get four hours back every week”, this is an AI-powered platform that aims to revolutionise the way we communicate through email. The high-performing teams it counts as clients include Netflix, Harvard University, Spotify and many others.

Cracking the Code: B2B eCommerce Explained

What is B2B eCommerce?

As the name suggests, this form of online trading is focused around platforms designed exclusively for businesses transacting with one another. B2B eCommerce involves dedicated websites or portals where 'on-account' or B2B customers can place orders with their suppliers. These are often hidden behind user logins and offer a tailored experience rich in unique features, including customised account management, pricing structures and payment terms that cater specifically to B2B dynamics.

Why is B2B eCommerce important?

For businesses that trade with others, the streamlined features of B2B eComm are invaluable: automated data entry reduces supplier workload and errors; customers benefit from a user-friendly and visually engaging platform, enhancing their overall experience; and promotional capabilities are built-in, allowing strategic upselling. These platforms cater specifically to their customers, creating ease-of-use, brand loyalty and ultimately fostering a lasting relationship between suppliers and buyers.

What’s next in B2B eCommerce?

B2B eCommerce is evolving; we’re seeing a marked increase in the integration of B2C-like features including retail-style promotions, upsell and cross-sell functions, and loyalty programmes. The rise of B2B marketplaces like Upstock, Faire and Joor further emphasises the importance the market is putting on this area of commerce.

Customer account management is one area progressing most dramatically - basic, B2B-as-an afterthought-type functionality has been swallowed by the need for advanced features. These include elements like custom quotes, integrated marketing materials, sales rep activity and direct communication, as well as common B2C elements like tracking and tracing orders and payment options.

Where ALTSHIFT Plays:

ALTSHIFT / BDO Solutions works with all the B2B eCommerce platforms, including BigCommerce, Pepperi, Brandscope, SparkLayer (for Shopify), and Shopify Plus B2B, which we speclialise in. This platform requires minimal customisation and offers native Shopify functionality, making it ideal for those already on Shopify for B2C or POS. We have also created our own solution, which can be applied to any of the main eCommerce platforms or sit directly over the top of an ERP system. It’s platform agnostic with a custom front-end and no limitations on the number of features.

If you are interested in learning more about B2B eCommerce, drop us a line at; we’d love to hear from you.

The Good Work: 7 Ways Technology Helps Not-For-Profits

Charities frequently exist on limited resources and budgets, so it can be a real challenge to keep up with digital advancements. We invest heavily in the Not For Profit space because we believe that the missions of these vital organisations should never be compromised by outdated systems.

7 Ways Technology Helps Not-For-Profits:

1. Governance

NFPs have a strong need for compliance, recording, reporting and transparency; processes made exponentially easier through modern platforms.

2. Cost Saving

Technology can help any organisation do more with less - charities can then reallocate budgets from operations to activating their actual missions.

3. Connection

Contemporary digital systems enhance the CX experience, building trust and credibility while minimising friction for donors, recipients, staff and volunteers.

4. Visibility

The NFP landscape can be competitive; charities need to keep up with their peers to remain in front of their donors.

5. Compatibility

NFPs need to be compatible with the cashless society we’re moving towards for many reasons: attracting the next generation of donors, lessening the administrative burden of physical currency, transparency, and convenience, to name a few.

6. Resource

Technology can help fill gaps in resources, which in the context of NFPs means more money and less reliance on staff and volunteers.

7. Automation

Automation can enhance productivity, reduce the risk of human error, save costs and set the charity up for scalable growth.

Where do we come in?

We’re proud to have helped a number of NFPs on their digital transformation journeys. With Fred Hollows, we implemented inventory, accounting and reporting systems to support international operations; at KidsCan, we conducted a finance review, ultimately bringing the function back in-house with new finance and admin systems; and, we focused on efficiencies and introduced state-of-the-art finance and payroll systems at the Burnett Foundation.

The work we do with NFPs is some of our most rewarding because we know that charities that leverage technology are better positioned to stay relevant, reach a wider audience and respond effectively to evolving challenges. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more.

WFMax Alternatives

It’s almost time for WorkflowMax to kick back, grab a piña colada and plan a golfing holiday because it’s retiring in June 2024. The good news is that there are plenty of really strong project management software options on the market, ready to swoop in and replace it. The challenge lies in figuring out which of the WorkflowMax alternatives is best suited to your business.

Here’s what we suggest:

Look at what WorkflowMax alternatives have been designed for your specific industry.

If you’re in professional services, you may look to a solution like Roll, a project management and collaboration platform that simplifies task tracking and team communication, or ProjectWorks, which has been designed to setup professional services businesses for scale. Those running trade services are more likely to find alignment with Next Minute, management software for the construction industry, or Fergus, a job management software tailored for trades and service businesses. There are WorkflowMax alternatives out there for all industries!

Narrow down your selection based on your business requirements and existing systems.

For example, Zoho Projects aligns really well with any business using Zoho’s CRM, syncing and integrating to ultimately supercharge efficiencies; Workguru is well suited for small and medium businesses, especially those offering trades or providing in-field services, like maintenance, repairs, or installations; and we find that GoJee is best suited for any business that offers custom manufacturing. Overall, Bluerock is the most like-for-like alternative to WorkflowMax, but unfortunately it’s not available until next year.

Talk to a partner.

Looking for an IT provider who is tech-agnostic, and therefore able to objectively provide recommendations after analysing your business. They should set you up to trial a couple of different options; you want solutions crafted around what feels most intuitive to you and your team. The partner should also be able to manage the entire WorkflowMax exit for you, migrating all of your existing data, setting up the new systems, training staff and providing ongoing support.

Mastering Workflow: A Guide to Choosing the Right Software

When it comes to selecting employee management solutions, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of options available. Here we break down how to choose and some platforms to know about. 

How to Choose:

With market factors like increasing compliance requirements and labour shortages, it’s never been more important to choose the right workflow software. We recommend that businesses always start by mapping out the employee lifecycle from end to end. We then suggest reviewing what tools and resources are needed at each step. Two key things to consider are automation and ease-of-use; employees will be able to best utilise a system that’s engaging and straightforward.

Four Platforms to Know About:

As platform-agnostic providers, we can subjectively recommend which services can best suit your business. Below, we've rounded up some of our favorites:

  • Deputy
    • Offers powerful rostering and timesheet management for larger workforces
    • Boasts strong awards management, e.g. overtime, additional entitlements
    • User-friendly and engaging for staff
    • Adapts to a multitude of industries, including healthcare, hospitality, construction, manufacturing and agriculture
  • Bamboo HR
    • Comprehensive HR management system
    • Ideal for internal HR functions
    • Rich in HR-specific features covering areas like recruitment, onboarding and certifications
    • Built to seamlessly integrate with payroll, LMS (learning management), and time & attendance
  • iPayroll
    • Provides an outsourced legal service alongside the HR software
    • Ideal for businesses looking to outsource the HR function
    • Developed here in New Zealand
  • PayHero & Droppah
    • Ensures payroll compliance with the Holidays Act
    • Integrates rosters and timesheets
    • Ideal for SMBs with employees on variable hours

What’s Next?


If you’re interested in increasing your workplace efficiencies through software, drop us a line to connect. We’d love to discuss your options.