60% of UK business owners anticipate increased use of AI over next 12 months

The release of ChatGPT in November 2022 heralded a new dawn in the next big technology race - with several tech giants including Microsoft, Google and Meta involved in bettering and integrating AI to existing products.

The specific focus on generative AI, which is capable of generating text or content in response to prompts given by the user, is able to automate processes and is set to be an invaluable asset for many businesses. But there is uncertainty as its impact is likely to differ from industry to industry.

Indeed, there is a sense of unpredictability when it comes to developments in AI and there is concern about job security, as Goldman Sachs has estimated that around 300 million jobs could be impacted by generative AI. However, the UK Technology Secretary stated, “We want to make sure that AI is complementing the way we work in the UK, not disrupting it - making our jobs better, rather than taking them away.”

In terms of AI and the subsequent regulation, the UK has adopted a pro-innovation approach in an attempt to encourage development and integration. The Government has committed to invest almost £1 billion on the next generation of supercomputing and AI research, indicating the impact that AI is set to have on industry in the UK. 

There are several potential uses of artificial intelligence in business, including optimising employment procedures and capturing business data. One of the most popular forms of generative AI is machine learning, which consists of sophisticated software algorithms designed to perform a single specific task; such as answering customer questions, translating languages, and generating content.

A survey by Finbri has discovered that 60.50% of UK business owners anticipate an increase in the use of AI for their businesses over the next 12 months.

Finbri, a business bridging finance specialist, explains, “Recent developments in AI have become the catalyst for business change, and are set to impact small to large corporations in some way or another. It’s no longer a case of if businesses should apply AI to their operations, it’s a case of when. Businesses are realising the potential that AI can offer, and should be looking to invest as soon as possible - even if simply to understand the impact on their business. What’s clearly apparent is that AI will give some early adopters a competitive edge.”

You might be surprised to learn how regularly firms employ AI, the number of companies engaged in AI in the UK has grown 145% between 2010 and 2020. The applications of AI are changing the way businesses operate, spanning all aspects of business from strategy & analysis, to sales, marketing, operations, customer service and finance. 

Improvements to the customer experience

Generative AI is playing a vital role in revolutionising the way businesses market themselves, whether it’s creating large quantities of content at a fast pace; from article writing, support guides, product descriptions, social media captions or image and video creation. 

Businesses are using AI as a way to improve customer experience, such as Chatbots, which can answer customer queries and provide automated support. It’s also used to provide tailored recommendations, such as what type of products a customer may be interested in.

AI can also be used to automate marketing tasks, such as email campaigns or the analysis of customer feedback. It can also track customer behaviour and provide insights into their buying habits in order to create targeted marketing campaigns.

Small business modernisation

Small businesses often have to prioritise key aspects, for example paying rent instead of having a marketing budget, but by using AI they can improve consumer relationships and foster greater brand loyalty while reducing costs. AI-powered content production tools may also streamline the generation of content, potentially providing a service that wouldn’t have been achievable or affordable without these advancements.

Generative AI can also be modified to use for lead generation, there are several ways in which this can be achieved: 

  • AI can send targeted messaging via email marketing campaigns to prospective leads.
  • AI can engage immediately with visitors to the website and is able to collect relevant data and information pertaining to the potential lead. 
  • AI interacts through tailored advertising, such as social media campaigns that appear on new leads.
  • AI can provide live chat support, which can be live 24/7, answering FAQs and gathering data.

Overall, AI can help to streamline the lead generation process, allowing businesses the opportunity to focus on qualified leads and close more deals.

AI implementation across industries

While generative AI is making headlines recently, Artificial intelligence has already made strides across many sectors. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Agriculture: AI implementation in the agriculture sector looks to support farms struggling with labour shortage, according to the National Farmers' Union, a lack of staff resulted in the wastage of £60 million worth of food alone in 2022 - by utilising ‘agri-bots’ that can determine when crops need to be picked, less is wasted. AI technology can also be used to monitor weather patterns, identify which crops to grow and where the most appropriate location is or even collect data to improve efficiency. 
  • Manufacturing: Generative AI is already being used to develop products far more efficiently. This could drastically reduce development costs and necessitate fewer engineers in the aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics industries when combined with advancements like 3D printing.
  • Healthcare: AI is proving to be an invaluable tool in the healthcare industry. AI is being used to diagnose and treat diseases, identify potential health risks, and provide personalised care - but the possibilities are seemingly endless. As robotic equipment and robots are used to carry out a range of surgical operations are being developed by companies like Shanghai's Intuitive Medical Inc. Not to mention the impact this technology has had on the development of wearable prosthetics, with 3D-printed smart prosthetics becoming the most developed technology for limb replacement. 
  • Finance: Machine learning is greatly used by a number of UK financial services companies, with 72% of firms reported using or in the process of developing ML applications according to a BofE report. ML is used to improve customer experience by providing personalised services such as easy money transfers, automated customer service, and credit scoring. Banks are also using ML to detect fraud and monitor financial transactions. 
  • E-commerce: The applications of AI can be included in all operations, with Amazon being the prime example - by integrating AI in almost every aspect of their organisation, from product recommendations to automation in their warehouses. Amazon has used their expertise to release products that are used worldwide, including Alexa. It seems probable that Amazon will continue on an upward trajectory in regard to e-commerce for years to come due to its broader push towards more AI-driven apps.

Artificial intelligence will transform businesses

There’s no doubt that the recent developments in the AI sector are game-changing for many businesses, but it’s key that businesses are aware of how best to use the technology to their advantage. AI is set to revolutionise how businesses operate, providing opportunities to increase efficiency, productivity and customer experience. 

By investing in AI, businesses can gain a competitive edge, allowing them to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant in an ever-evolving digital age. With AI-powered solutions, businesses can transform their operations and increase their profitability in the long run.

In the rapidly evolving field of AI, ChatGPT has introduced web plug-ins that connect to external platforms. E-commerce systems like Klarna, Shopify, and Instacart were among the first to implement plug-ins that provide customers with clear product suggestions.

Will AI continue to make strides in improving business?

Artificial intelligence is typically viewed as a supporting tool rather than a replacement for human ingenuity and innovation. However, this is no longer the reality. AI can create unique art, it can craft songs, develop scripts and even write code. There are several applications for artificial intelligence in business, including simplifying employment procedures and aggregating business data.

The UK government is actively investing in the development of AI, with a focused effort to ensure that AI is a complementary tool for businesses, yet despite attempts to regulate AI, there is no knowing how this will impact the UK economy. However, it may take longer for some business owners to embrace AI for their businesses as 29.54% anticipate no change in their AI use in the next 12 months.

Either way you look at it, this feels very much like the start of an AI revolution.