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Will AI change everything for UK SMEs?

Many believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will foster the fourth Industrial Revolution as it transforms how we live and work.

In the British business world, we are looking ahead to a future driven and controlled by AI. This could very well be the keystone of the next industrial revolution, but how many employers are ready for it and how can UK SMEs utilise it to push forward?

Driving innovation

A recent study has shown the current understanding of and predictions for AI by decision makers. It showed that 45% of IT decision makers are certain that AI will be behind the biggest innovations over the next few years.

This is unsurprising, when we consider the vast scope of artificially intelligent technology. Every generation sees the advent of a disruptive technology that changes everything, and for our generation this could very well be AI.

The survey considered whether UK businesses are fully embracing the possibilities AI brings, in order to increase productivity. Respondents said that AI is more important to the future than other buzzword technologies, such as VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), which came in at 16%. Slightly more (24%) consider the internet as equally important, but AI is the clear favourite.

This is likely to be, in part, because it’s easier to directly link AI to increased services and productivity, while AR and VR usage remains less clear. They also need specific devices in order to use them, while AI can be absorbed into current devices more easily.

How will AI help UK SMEs?

Financial experts expect that the technology will allow British businesses to save trillions of pounds. This is due to the massive time and manpower savings that AI can herald.

Businesses in the UK spend on average 120 days a year on administration. This has a huge impact on productivity.  Artificial Intelligence takes the burden of mundane back-office administration tasks such as logging expenses and analysing data, allowing people in the business to focus on what matters.

It is potentially a great opportunity for small businesses, particularly when starting out, as many find it difficult to dedicate the necessary hours to the day-to-day administrative duties necessary. With small numbers of employees, it is all too easy to allow important but repetitive tasks to go undone, leading to problems in the future.

How prepared are businesses in the UK?

The immense possibilities for UK SMEs provided by AI are indisputable, but many survey respondents reported that they didn’t think their employers were ready to take advantage of this.

More than 55% said that they considered that their employer is underprepared for AI and its possibilities. Just 19% felt their employers were ready and able to utilise the technology.

When it comes to larger businesses, just 10% feel that their employer is ‘completely ready’ for AI, according to the results of the poll. These numbers clearly show that employees are aware of the possibilities, yet businesses are being left behind.

It’s already here

While many feel underprepared, other businesses in the UK are already seeing the positive effects of AI. This is particularly the case in the financial sector as this type of industry is already strongly implementing AI.

Other sectors are also heavily utilising the technology. For example, Ordnance Survey have utilised machine learning to train a machine model to correctly identify types of roofs. This has freed up the workforce to concentrate their skills on more complicated problems.

James Turner, managing director of Turner Little Limited (turnerlittle.com) said “Ambitious SMEs in the UK must learn from other industries. It’s important for small businesses to understand how other sectors and businesses are using AI, and to implement it themselves. If they miss this crucial opportunity, they could find larger businesses are more flexible than them, thereby losing a traditional SME advantage.

“If businesses don’t quickly grasp the vast opportunities afforded by AI, then they could face losing talented employees who move to businesses who are more forward thinking. To embrace these kinds of changes, it’s important to invest in developing skills and keeping one step ahead of technological possibilities. This is true for SME owners and their employees. Technology moves fast, and if you don’t harness it, you could get left behind.”

About Turner Little

Founded in 1998 in Yorkshire, UK, Turner Little is a specialist UK and offshore company formation, banking and corporate services provider. Our services include company formation, UK and offshore banking, asset protection, credit correction/repair, trademarking and trusts. Other services include Internet services, mail forwarding, wills and probate. Turner Little’s vision is to offer the best possible service, together with market leading products.

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Turner Little and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Material on this page has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.