UK Firms Boost AI Investment As Businesses Confidence Remain Strong


UK (Parliament Politic Magazine) – UK businesses are feeling hopeful about their future prospects as they anticipate reaping the benefits of investments in new AI technology. However, confidence has experienced a decline during the first half of the year due to global uncertainty and sluggish economic growth worldwide.

In a comprehensive survey conducted by Accenture and S&P Global, 12,000 businesses across Europe, including 1,400 in the UK, were polled to gauge their expectations for the near future. Surprisingly, despite persistently high inflation levels, an economic slowdown affecting numerous major economies, and ongoing geopolitical tensions, companies remain relatively optimistic.

UK Businesses Seem Optimistic About AI Investment 

This optimism is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of UK businesses, that are determined to navigate through challenging times and seize opportunities for growth. The survey results highlight their unwavering belief in the potential of AI technology to revolutionize their operations and drive success.

Although the decline in confidence is a cause for concern, it is important to acknowledge the broader context in which businesses are operating. The global economic landscape is characterized by uncertainty, making it difficult for companies to accurately predict future outcomes. Nevertheless, UK businesses are demonstrating a remarkable level of resilience and determination to overcome these obstacles.

The survey findings also shed light on the importance of international collaboration and cooperation. Despite geopolitical tensions, businesses are maintaining a positive outlook, recognizing the need for global partnerships to foster innovation and drive economic growth.

Furthermore, the survey underscores the significance of businesses’ ability to adapt and evolve in response to changing circumstances. While inflation remains a challenge, companies are actively seeking innovative solutions to mitigate its impact and ensure sustainable growth.

There Is A Growing Hype Around AI In The UK

By the end of 2022, researchers discovered that business confidence in the UK had reached its lowest point since 2009, with a meager positive score of only 18%. However, as the new year began, the buzz surrounding the potential of AI technologies sparked a significant boost in confidence. In the first quarter of 2023, this surge resulted in a net positivity of approximately 43%, surpassing the levels observed in 2019.

Even after three months, UK companies continue to exhibit more confidence in the future compared to their European counterparts, who maintain a net positive optimism of 19%, while the global average stands at 28%. Nevertheless, there are indications that the belief in AI investments as a solution to inflation concerns is waning. Although positivity remains high, at 40%, it has experienced a decline of three points throughout the second quarter of 2023.

UK Companies Plan For Investments In AI

UK companies are currently showing a greater inclination towards planning investments in artificial intelligence (AI). The percentage of firms considering such investments has risen from 18% to 29% since early 2022. 

These companies are particularly eager to incorporate AI capabilities in the upcoming year, as they recognize the need to streamline costs and combat wage inflation. However, amidst the excitement surrounding AI, concerns are growing that it may be creating a bubble similar to the ones witnessed with NFTs and cryptocurrency

This bubble phenomenon involves investors inflating the value of companies that ultimately collapse before the true potential of AI can be monetized. These concerns are starting to impact UK confidence in the manufacturing sector. 

Despite the perceived potential of AI investments to enhance productivity through automation, expectations for overall manufacturing output have dropped to 43%. This represents a significant decline of 10% from the first quarter of 2023.

UK Businesses Have Seen A Decline In Net Profits

Despite these trends, the United Kingdom has managed to maintain its confidence levels at a lower rate of decline compared to the rest of the world. While businesses in the UK experienced a 3% decrease in net confidence, this was still lower than the global average and the Eurozone, both of which experienced roughly a 4% decline.

When examining specific economies, the United States, where excitement around AI has also surged, witnessed only a minimal decrease in confidence, similar to that of the UK. On the other hand, Ireland and Brazil are the only countries that boast higher net confidence levels than the UK.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.