The CBI  in association with IBM 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 technologies. Check out the full findings in our mini-report Adopting the future.

The world stands on the brink of 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 cognitive learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will fundamentally transform society. The current pace of change in technology is unrivalled and individuals, companies, and governments are under pressure to keep up.

Our survey also shows that half of businesses believe AI will fundamentally transform their industry.

Half-measures will not be enough, we must be forthright, bold and honest in developing solutions to the coming challenges.

To become a world-leader in this field, the UK must be bold in embracing digital and not lag behind.

So what do British businesses think about AI? Check out some of the key findings of our survey below:

  • Businesses are ambitious but divided – A third of businesses (33%) self-categorise themselves as digital pioneers - labelling themselves as early adopters and innovators but over a quarter (27%) saw themselves as followers of the digital revolution in business, who wait for technology to become mainstream before adopting
  • Agility is king – Investment in technologies like cloud and mobile, which were seen as niche just a few years ago, have matured to now underpin much of UK business.
  • Yet, there is a shift on the horizon – AI investment is gaining momentum with 42% of companies planning to invest in AI over the next 5 years. And that’s on top of the one in five companies who already invested in AI during the past 12 months
  • AI key to efficiency and competiveness – An overwhelming majority believe AI will enhance efficiency (79%), increase competitiveness (74%), be customer focused (72%) and offer a unique selling point in helping businesses differentiate their business from that of competitors (69%)
  • ‘Followers’ risk being left behind – For many companies, AI is either not in their investment plans (29%) or are not familiar with the technology (8%) and nearly 42% of ‘Followers’ do not plan to invest in AI at all. These companies risk being left behind as pioneering companies use their head start to seize the initiative and redefine their industry.

To secure the UK as the digital hub of the world we need many more businesses closing the gap with these ‘pioneers’ because the global race has well and truly started.