Slow-moving UK organisations risk falling behind the rest of the world on AI

Microsoft AI report

UK organisations risk falling behind global competitors unless they act now to accelerate their use of AI technology, according to a new report published today by Microsoft UK.

The report reveals that organisations currently using AI are now outperforming those that are not by 11.5 per cent – a boost that, in the face of unprecedented economic and political uncertainty, UK businesses can ill-afford to pass up.

According to Tech Nation’s 2019 report, the Midlands recorded a digital tech turnover of £7.74 billion in 2018 and is home to over 20,400 digital tech businesses. There is no doubt that the Midlands is developing a large tech sector outside of London.

Business leaders need a bold strategy to secure a competitive edge and contribute to the Midlands’ burgeoning innovation hub – and AI should be central to this.

Organisations in the Midlands are making progress and recognise the value it brings, 50 per cent of them are using AI, six per cent of which describe themselves as advanced users. But this is six per cent lower than the UK average of 56 per cent.

  • 37% of business leaders in the Midlands want to be industry leaders in AI innovation
  • 46% of business leaders in the Midlands believe AI will have a positive impact on innovation in their industry sector and 38% think it will have a positive impact on the UK economy in the next five years

A lack of understanding from business leaders is holding organisations in the Midlands back from scaling AI effectively and is leaving employees in the dark:

Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK, said: “The results are clear. UK businesses and public sector organisations that forgo or delay implementing AI solutions risk missing the boat on driving down costs, increasing their competitive advantage and empowering their workers. Given this moment, where both UK leadership and competitiveness on the global stage is more vital than ever, fully embracing AI-led digital transformation is a critical success factor for UK businesses, government and society.”

The study, conducted by YouGov, focused on more than 1,000 business leaders and 4,000 employees, and includes interviews with leading industry experts from organisations including M&S, NatWest, Renault F1 Team, Lloyds Banking Group and the NHS.

The report also uncovers a pressing need to focus on the cultural transformation required to fully harness AI’s potential.

Clare Barclay, Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft UK said: “Transformative change driven by AI is as much about culture as it is technology – yet it seems that culture isn’t getting the airtime it deserves.  An environment where employees feel they have the opportunity to get involved and develop new skills, will unleash innovation and your employees’ potential to become the best competitive asset you have.”