‘Less talking, more trials’: UK manufacturers show hesitancy for AI adoption, as the technology goes mainstream

Almost half (48%) of UK manufacturing firms are looking into or testing AI in a limited capacity, yet just 12% are using it live, everyday around the business, according to a new report from data science consultancy Peak Indicators.

Peak Indicators’ Artificial Intelligence in Business report, identified the gap between manufacturing firms who are talking about AI and those who actually deploy it, highlighting that just 16% of companies surveyed had a solid data foundation - a key ingredient for successful AI initiatives.

Finance and Accounting was the only sector surveyed to reach a point where a quarter of firms (25 percent) are routinely using AI in at least some departments. This is more than double the amount in manufacturing. The report noted how stringent regulation in the finance sector helps to ensure the levels of data quality required to start many AI projects. 

It also revealed a regional divide in adoption, with London-based businesses nearly 1.5 times more likely to be testing or using AI routinely than firms in almost every other region.

Paul Clough, Head of Data Science at Peak Indicators, comments: “AI will be vital in driving Industry 4.0 and manufacturing. Linking intelligence with robotics or industrial IoT will create unseen efficiency through advanced manufacturing techniques and changes in the production process. 

“This is why it’s critical that manufacturers lay solid data foundations now, which they can build from to drive value to their businesses. Larger companies in this space are already using bespoke AI applications to gain a critical competitive advantage. I would like to see less talking, and more trials among smaller manufacturing firms, who can take advantage of off-the-shelf AI and software packages with embedded AI to remove repetitive, low-value tasks from employees’ workloads.”

Are you using artificial intelligence (AI) in your business?

 

No

Not yet, but we are looking into it

Yes - testing AI applications in a limited way

Yes - some departments are using AI

Yes - AI widely used across our business

Business Size

 

 

 

 

 

Micro (1-9 employees)

64 %

27 %

7 %

2 %

0 %

Small (10-49)

48 %

28 %

18 %

5 %

1 %

Medium (50-249)

28 %

25 %

32 %

13 %

2 %

Large (250+)

9 %

17 %

35 %

28 %

10 %

Region

 

 

 

 

 

North East

26 %

32 %

26 %

11 %

5 %

North West

51 %

26 %

13 %

5 %

5 %

Yorkshire & Humber

40 %

26 %

20 %

11 %

3 %

East Midlands

38 %

28 %

28 %

7 %

0 %

West Midlands

44 %

22 %

22 %

7 %

4 %

East of England

26 %

32 %

37 %

5 %

0 %

London

26 %

20 %

32 %

19 %

3 %

South East

41 %

24 %

14 %

17 %

3 %

South West

47 %

33 %

19 %

0 %

0 %

Wales

46 %

15 %

23 %

8 %

8 %

Scotland

48 %

19 %

15 %

15 %

4 %

Industry

 

 

 

 

 

Business services

31 %

33 %

18 %

16 %

2 %

Construction

36 %

33 %

17 %

11 %

3 %

Education

37 %

33 %

23 %

7 %

0 %

Finance & accounting

18 %

23 %

34 %

18 %

7 %

Hospitality & leisure

58 %

31 %

8 %

4 %

0 %

Healthcare

42 %

29 %

21 %

4 %

4 %

IT & computing

20 %

16 %

42 %

11 %

11 %

Manufacturing

40 %

20 %

28 %

12 %

0 %

Wholesale & retail

53 %

15 %

18 %

15 %

0 %

Research methodology: Peak Indicators engaged the research consultancy Opinium to interview a representative sample of 500 senior decision-makers from UK-based companies about their business’s adoption of Artificial Intelligence. The interviews were conducted online between 3 - 10 February 2021.

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