7 June 2017 | By ​Shane Murphy Event

AI: revolution or evolution?

The CBI has surveyed business leaders the length and breadth of the UK to understand how ready UK companies are to adopt – and adapt – to new digital techologies

The digital revolution has transformed the way business interacts with and delivers for its customers. The world stands on the brink of further technology-driven change. New business models, digitally enabled trade and automation will pose real and tangible challenges to how we do business.

Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) will fundamentally transform our society. The current pace of change in technology is unrivalled and individuals, companies, and governments are racing to keep up.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that AI’s disruption of society is happening 10 times faster and at 300 times the scale of the Industrial Revolution, suggesting AI will have 3,000 times the impact. Half of businesses the CBI surveyed believe AI will fundamentally transform their industry. No business can afford to miss this window of opportunity to seize the transformative economic and productivity benefits of innovation.

These findings from the CBI’s survey show there is no time to lose:

One third of business leaders categorise their company as a digital “pioneer” – an early adopter and digital innovator. As many as 39 per cent of business leaders identified themselves as “experimenters”, who are curious about technology and regularly experiment with digital innovations – but wait for pioneers to demonstrate success before fully adopting innovations into their businesses.

This paints a relatively positive and digital-savvy picture of UK business, showcasing a healthy appetite for the adoption and use of digital technology.

More than a quarter, at 27 per cent, saw their business as a “follower” of the digital revolution, typically waiting for technology to become mainstream before adopting.

1. Cloud, mobile and security form the UK’s digital backbone

Cloud, mobile and security technologies come out on top for business investment over the past 12 months, showing a business drive towards collaboration, boosting agility and protecting critical data assets. Investment in these technologies will form a digital backbone for UK businesses and pave the way for greater use of technology.

2. A major shift is on the horizon as AI gains momentum

UK business leaders are now considering the next generation of emerging technologies as sources of competitive advantage and growth. 

AI is starting to feature in more business strategies, with 42 per cent of companies planning to invest in AI over the next five years. One in five companies already invested in AI during the past 12 months. 

3. Artificial Intelligence is truly transformational

A majority of 79 per cent believe AI will enhance efficiency, while 74 per cent think it will increase competitiveness, 72 per cent say it will be customer focused, and 69 per cent believe it will offer a unique selling point.

4. An emerging divide

However, for 29 per cent, AI is not on the investment radar, while 8 per cent are simply not familiar with the technology.

Pioneering companies are set to reap the benefits of transforming their industry while followers struggling to catch-up. As many as 42 per cent of followers do not plan to invest in AI at all.

To become a world-leader in this field, the UK must be bold in embracing digital and not lag behind. Businesses should think about how they adopt and utilise technology to interact with consumers and with each other, to make innovation relevant to their customers, government, and society at large.

Check out the full findings in Adopting the Future

You might also like

Join the discussion