74% of UK employers have not implemented AI, security risks are greatest concern
Wed 6 Sep 2023
Almost three-quarters of UK employers have yet to implement AI into the workplace. Despite well-publicised fears around ‘AI taking over’, just 1% of UK employers say that AI plays a large part in their business, and only 5% say it is regularly used.
The survey of 79,000 businesses across five countries – Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK – was conducted by consultants Peninsula Group.
30% of employers globally cite security risk as their biggest concern around AI in the workplace. Increased margin of error, impact on the team’s work quality and/or productivity, and the risk of losing intellectual property also ranked high on the list of concerns.
“Throughout history, mechanical and technological advances have played a significant role in the changing face of industry, streamlining processes, reducing labour costs, and increasing productivity. AI is the latest in a long line of innovations – and it’s clear from these results that employers’ opinions are divided,” said Alan Price, Chief Operations Officer of Peninsula Group.
Where businesses have incorporated AI into the business, the majority are using it for administrative tasks (40%) or creative writing (35%).
“While many can see the benefits of AI, there are still significant concerns around security, productivity, and intellectual property that need to be addressed before we will see widespread implementation across global businesses. With online security and data protection being a top priority for most employers, this is not a big surprise,” added Price.
A third of businesses in Ireland that use AI are using it for customer services, while a quarter of Australian employers and a third of Canadian employers are using AI to draft internal or company communications.
More than 50% of employers in Australia, Canada, and Ireland who use AI are unsure of its impact. This raises questions around the credibility of AI. With many respondents concerned about errors, quality, and security, more adoption time may be needed to explore the avenues for businesses to best integrate AI solutions into their workflows.
“What is surprising is the low percentage of employers who are currently embracing AI. Australia leads the way with 41% of businesses currently using AI in some way or another, compared to the UK where only 26% of businesses have started to use AI. I expected this to be much higher,” said Price.
Ireland has embraced AI the most of the five countries surveyed, with 10% of Irish employees saying it is regularly used in their business – double that of Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.
“The concerns around security are interesting. This may be down to current UK legislations, with employers not wanting to risk being hit with heavy fines,” added Price.
Only a third of employers believe AI has the potential to positively transform many workplaces.
Canadians are the most cautious, with 17% of employers believing that AI will be highly detrimental and 13% saying they are fearful of the unknown elements around AI.
Australia was the only country where fear of the unknown with AI and how it impacts business finished in the top three responses.
“I believe that AI can be a great tool when used alongside people rather in place of them. So I was interested to see that a third of employers believe that AI will reduce the number of employees at their company. AI is only as good as the way it is programmed, and there can be no substitute for knowledge and personal insight,” said Price.
Almost half (40%) of employers globally believe people are irreplaceable in their business.
Over half of employers are either unsure or believe that AI will probably reduce the number of people employed at their company at some point.
“It’s this combination of AI and personal knowledge that I think will be most valuable to employers, as we see more and more integration and uptake in businesses around the world. Speeding up processes and freeing up people’s time to concentrate on providing the best service to clients, using their knowledge to solve complex problems with the personal touch and human interaction that is so valuable, even in this digital age,” concluded Price.
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