Deloitte says 85% of UK companies will invest in AI and IoT by 2020

Deloitte says 85% of UK companies will invest in AI and IoT by 2020
More than half of survey respondents expect to invest over £10 million in digital technologies 

Rebecca Gibson |

A new Deloitte survey predicts that 85% of UK organisations plan to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) by 2020.

According to Deloitte’s first Digital Disruption Index, over half of UK executives expect to invest more than £10 million in digital technologies in the next three years. Around 77% said they will capitalise on robotics, while 63% will focus on implementing augmented and virtual reality, 62% will prioritise wearables, 54% will explore biometrics (such as voice and finger recognition), and 43% will adopt blockchain.

By the end of 2017, 30% of UK organisations will invest more than £10 million in these technologies. However, at this stage only 9% of executives believe that UK companies are world leading at exploring and implementing digital technologies and ways of working.

“The first edition of the index shows that few UK businesses are successfully exploiting digital technologies and ways of working,” said Paul Thompson, UK digital transformation leader at Deloitte. “Strategies are not coherent, investment levels are modest and the relevant skills are in short supply. As a result, the UK isn’t living up to its digital potential.”

A total of 77% of the survey respondents expected AI to have the biggest impact on their organisations and industries, but currently only 22% have adopted the technology. A third of the companies that have already invested anticipate spending more than £1 million in 2017, suggesting that they are piloting the technology, rather than using it a large scale.

Just under half of respondents predicted that their workforce will get smaller as they adopt AI, but only 8% believe the technology to directly replace human activity. Over a third of respondents predicted that AI will be used to augment expertise, largely to improve human decision making.

“AI will have a profound impact on the future of work,” said Thompson. “Our view is that human and machine intelligence complement each other, and that AI should not simply be seen as a substitute. Humans working with AI will achieve better outcomes than AI alone, and UK businesses need to get this careful balance right.”

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