IFS study shows 99% plan to invest, with productivity cited as core objective Industrial automation key focus area as Industry 4.0 accelerates.
Findings from an international study conducted by IFS examining the perception and adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within core industries revealed that the UK is at the forefront of a global drive for AI investment, with a huge 99% of UK respondents planning to invest in AI, versus just 80% in North America, and 83% in mainland Europe.
The study, which polled enterprise 600 decision makers working with technology including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), and Field Service Management (FSM), highlighted that AI would predominantly be used to make existing workers more productive (60%) and add value to products and services (48%). Just 18% of businesses said they would be utilising AI to replace existing workers, while more than 60% stated AI would either increase headcounts or would keep them the same, countering fears it will lead to job losses.
Those that did plan to use AI to replace workers overwhelmingly came from large enterprises, which employ greater numbers in the process-driven roles that are most likely to be lost to automation.
The findings come at a critical time for UK industries, with labour productivity falling at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis. Manufacturing in particular has seen a significant drop in output, decreasing by 1.9%. With the sector accounting for as much as 15% of UK GDP, even a small increase in productivity could result in significant benefits to the country’s economy.
IFS’s research also revealed that global spend will focus foremost on AI to support industrial automation as momentum for Industry 4.0 surges, with 45% stating a plan to invest in the technology. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and inventory planning and logistics tied for second place at 38.9 percent.
“AI is no longer an emerging technology. It is being implemented to support business automation in the here and now, as this study clearly proves,” IFS VP of AI and RPA, Bob De Caux, said. “We are seeing many real-world examples where technology is augmenting existing decision-making processes by providing users with more timely, accurate and pertinent information. In today’s disruptive economy, the convergence of technologies such as AI, RPA, and IoT is bolstering a new form of business automation that will provide companies that are brave enough with the tools and services they need to be more competitive and outflank larger competitors.”