A new report from DCMS shows that while over 430,000 businesses are already using AI, there is great potential for further growth.
The study, carried out by Capital Economics, found the that IT & telecommunications and legal sectors are at the forefront of adoption, with almost 30% of businesses having adopted at least one AI technology, compared to hospitality, retail and health which are all around a 12% adoption rate. Perhaps unsurprisingly, larger businesses are more likely to deploy AI, with the study identifying an adoption rate of 68% among businesses with more than 250 employees - and 20% that adopt multiple AI technologies.
The research also looked into how businesses source AI, finding a fairly even split between those who develop it in-house and those who purchase off-the-shelf' external solutions, at around 40% each. That leaves 20% who out-source the development of AI to external providers.
Potential for growth
In addition to identifying the number of businesses already using AI the paper also highlights that 2% of businesses are currently trialling AI in pilots, and 10% are planning to adopt at least one AI technology in the future. Overall, the researchers project an adoption rate of 22.7% in 2025, growing to 34.8% in 2040. This growth would be accompanied by a significant increase in spending on the AI workforce, with the paper's central scenario seeing this increase from 46bn in 2020 to 88.7bn in 2025.
For this growth to be realised, and for a more diverse range of sectors to benefit from what AI has to offer, we need to be proactive in removing the barriers to adoption. This includes focusing on some of the largest sectors in the UK, such as retail and manufacturing, where AI is currently only used to a very limited extent. Identifying how these sectors may benefit from greater uptake of AI technologies, and how we can help to increase the knowledge of and confidence in their uses, will be a priority for techUK this year. We also look forward to working with our members to support the broader priorities in the UK National AI Strategy, to ensure no sector or region falls behind as the great potential of AI begins to be realised.