Small businesses primed to lead the AI revolution

Research from Adecco UK&I has revealed that smaller businesses are more positive about new technologies such as AI.

A 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, has found 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 9% of the former believing its impact won’t be significant, compared to just 5% of the latter.

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Commenting on Adecco’s findings, Mark Powell, sales director at Bloor Homes Western, stated: “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.”

When looking at larger companies, 81% believe that computers will make jobs easier within the next 5-10 years, a percentage that rises to 89% amongst their smaller counterparts. Similarly, whereas two thirds (66%) of smaller companies believe that technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed in the past decade, only 58% of larger companies believe this to be true.

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Additionally, 18% 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 at The Adecco Group UK and Ireland, commented: “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.”

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“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.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...