The majority of the UK’s SMEs are largely unconcerned about the prospect of artificial intelligence (AI), with the potential of improved productivity seen as a potential major benefit, according to research from Close Brothers Asset Finance.
The results were obtained from the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly surveythat questions over close to 1,000 UK and RoI SME owners and senior management across a range of sectors and regions.
Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance said,
“The potential impact of the rise of artificial intelligence and the so-called fourth industrial revolution have been discussed and debated for some time now. What our survey tells is that 65% of firms feel that AI iseither going to improve productivity or that it’s too far in the future to be worried about.”
“The remaining 35% are more apprehensive, citing ethical concerns and the threat to jobs as their reasons for not being advocates of AI.”
Q.14e Does the prospect of artificial intelligence concern you?
|Yes, because it will take jobs||13%|
|Yes, because it opens up a number of ethical issues||22%|
|No, because it is likely to improve productivity||29%|
|No, because I think it’s still too far in the future to worry about||36%|
Technology and its role in improving productivity
When asked the question ‘do you think better technology leads to more productivity?’, over half (51%) of SMEs believe better technology will result in more productivity with only 25% saying no; the rest are undecided.
Regionally, Northern Ireland (64%), London (63%) and Wales (62%) were particularly positive, while in businesses with a turnover greater than £10m, this rises even further to 70%.
The sector perspective: Do you think better technology leads to more productivity?
Most SMEs (61%) are comfortable that their technology is up-to-date, with 22% admitting that it is not, while the remaining 17% are ‘unsure’.
“With cashlow a constant concern for businesses, investing in technology is a key decision. Firm owners understand that employee expectations are rising and that technology can provide competitive advantage; however, this comes at a cost.
“28% of SMEs update their technology every two years, while 23% do this annually. 6% of companies never invest.”
Laptops and desktop computers – combined – account for nearly half of companies’ technology spend, with software third at 18%.
Q: What is your business’s biggest technology spend?
Q: On average, how regularly do you upgrade your business’ technology?
|Every 2 years||28%|
|Every 5 years||18%|
|Every 10 years||2%|
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