West Midlands exhibits lowest adoption rates for deploying AI
A comprehensive study by Forbes Advisor, a leader in financial guidance and price comparison, has unveiled striking insights into the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies across UK businesses. The data paints a picture of cautious engagement with AI, with significant disparities across sectors and regions.
Key findings reveal that only 16% of UK businesses currently harness AI technologies. This low figure is compounded by the fact that among the 84% not using AI, a vast majority (81%) have no plans to adopt such technologies in the next three months.
The education sector emerges as a notable exception, with 35% of businesses already implementing AI, making it the second-highest adopter after the information and communications sector, where AI usage stands at 43%. Conversely, the accommodation, food, and construction sectors lag significantly behind, with only 8% of businesses in these industries using AI.
Several factors contribute to this hesitant adoption of AI. Over three-quarters (77%) of businesses not using AI cite the lack of internal expertise as a major barrier. Additionally, 61% find it challenging to identify practical business applications for AI, and over half (53%) are deterred by the costs involved.
In terms of AI functionalities, text generation and visual content creation are the most common uses, particularly in the information and communications and education sectors.
Regionally, London leads in AI adoption, with 43% of businesses using some form of AI technology. Scotland, North East England, and Northern Ireland follow closely, showcasing a growing interest in AI across diverse geographical areas. In contrast, the West Midlands and South West exhibit the lowest adoption rates, with about a third of businesses in these regions employing AI.
This study underscores a critical juncture in the UK’s technological landscape, highlighting the need for increased awareness and accessibility of AI technologies to foster broader adoption and innovation across various sectors.
Kevin Pratt, business expert at Forbes Advisor, says:
“AI has burst onto the scene in 2023, garnering headlines about how it will transform all aspects of modern life. But our research suggests that, in the real world of business and commerce, it will need to jostle with other priorities for the attention of company owners and senior managers.
“Businesses are struggling to make headway in an inflationary environment where high costs and sluggish demand are putting a tight squeeze on margins. In this context, it’s not surprising that some firms are holding fire with regard to the investment in the kit and skilled staff needed to exploit the undoubted potential of AI.
“Ultimately, businesses need to be pragmatic when it comes to adopting AI. They need to be open to the benefits it can offer in terms of innovation, operating efficiency, and cyber security, but it must remain the servant rather than the master. Companies must remain true to their core purpose, and AI should be a tool to help them achieve it, not an end in itself.”