Majority of UK firms now looking to AI to bolster their business

The coronavirus pandemic is set to trigger greater investment into artificial intelligence from UK businesses, new research by Fountech.ai has revealed.

The AI think tank commissioned an independent survey among 430 senior decision-makers in UK businesses. It found that only 16% of business leaders are aware of AI being used within their organisation at present.

The majority (53%) of companies admitted they have a very limited understanding of AI and how it can be used. Only 15% of businesses are confident that they have the skills needed internally to implement or take advantage of AI, with this figure standing at just 5% among small companies.

Over two-fifths (44%) of businesses believe that AI is over-hyped and would not deliver much value to their organisation. Micro businesses (57%) are particularly likely to hold this view. Meanwhile, half (50%) of UK business leaders think AI would be too expensive for them to use.

However, COVID-19 is prompting a change in attitude. Since the start of the pandemic, 55% of UK businesses have begun exploring how AI could improve the product or service they deliver. This figure is highest among small (61%) and medium-sized (66%) businesses.

Fountech.ai’s research also found that 45% of businesses are looking to implement one or more technologies that use AI in the next 12 months.

Nikolas Kairinos, founder of Fountech.ai, said: “There remains a significant knowledge gap when it comes to businesses’ understanding of artificial intelligence. Clearly, many still consider the technology to be over-hyped, expensive and complicated, but this is not the case – often delivered on a SaaS model, AItools can be used easily and affordably even by small organisations.

“Positively, the pandemic has proven to almost every business why they must invest in technology. In the wake of the disruptions caused by COVID-19, our research shows that more companies are evaluating how digital solutions like AI can improve what they do and how they do it. This is a welcome development, given the huge value AI can provide for businesses in everything from R&D and employee training through to marketing and sales.”

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