November 15, 2019
A new study claims that the UK is at the forefront of a global drive for Artificial Intelligence investment, with a near universal 99 percent of UK respondents planning to invest in AI, versus 80 percent in North America, and 83 percent in mainland Europe. The report from IFS (registration) sets out to explore the perception and adoption of AI within core industries worldwide. It polled the views of 600 decision makers working with technology and suggests that AI will predominantly be used to make existing workers more productive (60 percent) and add value to products and services (48 percent).
Just 18 percent of businesses said they would be utilising AI to replace existing workers, while more than 60 percent stated AI would either increase headcounts or would keep them the same, countering fears it will lead to job losses. Those that did plan to use AI to replace workers overwhelmingly came from large enterprises, which employ greater numbers in the process-driven roles that are most likely to be lost to automation.
The findings come at a critical time for UK industries, with labour productivity falling at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis. Manufacturing in particular has seen a significant drop in output, decreasing by 1.9 percent. With the sector accounting for as much as 15 percent of UK GDP, even a small increase in productivity could result in significant benefits to the country’s economy.
A new way of doing business
The report also claims that global spend will focus mainly on AI to support industrial automation as momentum for Industry 4.0 surges, with 45 percent stating a plan to invest in the technology. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and inventory planning and logistics tied for second place at 38.9 percent.
“AI is no longer an emerging technology. It is being implemented to support business automation in the here and now, as this study clearly proves,” IFS VP of AI and RPA, Bob De Caux, said. “We are seeing many real-world examples where technology is augmenting existing decision-making processes by providing users with more timely, accurate and pertinent information. In today’s disruptive economy, the convergence of technologies such as AI, RPA, and IoT is bolstering a new form of business automation that will provide companies that are brave enough with the tools and services they need to be more competitive and outflank larger competitors.”
De Caux concluded, “The findings of the study show that the time is right for companies to reap both business and financial benefits from technology automation. Falling for the hype of AI is easy, but success requires disruption to existing business models. The technologies themselves are not a panacea, nor are they a universal solution to any problem. However, with the right data model and viable use cases, AI can support improved productivity and deliver significant benefits to both operations and the wider business. AI will be used by the vast majority of organisations in some form in the near future, extracting real value from intelligent processes, for the long-term.”