Smaller businesses lead the AI revolution

Small UK businesses are leading the way in the oncoming AI revolution according to new research from Adecco UK&I.

Research from Adecco UK&I, part of The Adecco Group – the world’s leading provider of workforce solutions – reveals that smaller businesses are more positive about new technologies such as artificial intelligence when compared to larger companies.

The ‘Humans vs Robots’ report, based on responses from 1,000 board level and senior business decision makers and over 1,000 workers in 13 sectors across the UK, finds that larger companies (employing more than 5,000 employees) are almost twice as sceptical about the business impact that AI can have compared to smaller companies (employing 250 or less employees), with nine per cent of the former believing its impact won’t be significant, compared to just five per cent of the latter.

When looking at larger companies, 81 per cent believe that computers will make jobs easier within the next five-ten years, a percentage that rises to 89 per cent amongst their smaller counterparts. Similarly, whereas two thirds (66 per cent) of smaller companies believe that technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed in the past decade, only 58 per cent of larger companies believe this to be true.

Additionally, 18 per cent of larger companies don’t currently believe that AI will increase the amount of leisure time that their employees will be able to enjoy, in contrast to just 9% of smaller companies.

Alex Fleming, president of general staffing, The Adecco Group UK and Ireland, comments, ‘Investment in technologies such as automation will help to make our economy more competitive, enable us to build on our world-leading reputation in cutting-edge sectors, and allow us to establish better ways of doing business. Smaller companies seem to realise this and as a result, have a huge opportunity to benefit.

‘Fearlessness is often engrained into the small business mentality, and they can be quick to recognise and act on change. As a result, smaller companies are well placed to drive awareness about the positive opportunities that automation can generate, both amongst employees and with other organisations. By demonstrating the benefits of automation, including its ability to improve working lives, they can hopefully lessen the fear that exists amongst some people for the future.’

Mark Powell, sales director at Bloor Homes Western, states, ‘As a smaller business, we are very optimistic about automation. Technology and automation free up time and money to invest in valuable business areas, such as hiring and innovation. Our ability to scale rapidly, without the traditional barriers faced by larger entities, is giving us a significant advantage – Uber and Airbnb are prime examples of companies harnessing these opportunities.’