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UK businesses are investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to help them adapt to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, new research from Fountech Solutions has found. 

The AI consultant and developer commissioned an independent survey of more than 750 decision-makers within UK businesses. It found that 40 percent of businesses plan to make AI investment a priority in 2021. 

The onset of the pandemic in March 2020 has incentivised almost a third (30 percent) of businesses to pilot an AI solution for the first time. 

The research found that many businesses are now looking to increase their investment in AI over the coming 12 months: 41 percent plan to hire new talent to deal specifically with AI, while almost half (48 percent) plan to send staff for AI-related training. 

External AI experts are also in high demand, with 44 percent of businesses planning to engage with third parties to help with their AI requirements. 

As AI and automation becomes more common, more than half (58 percent) of UK businesses plan to invest more heavily in training their employees so they can better utilise new technologies. 

In the long-term, a majority (61 percent) of businesses are confident that embracing AI will give their business a sustainable competitive advantage.  

Ero Georgiades, Chief Operating Officer of Fountech Solutions, said: “In difficult and unexpected circumstances like these, businesses naturally look to leverage new solutions that will ensure that they can ride out the storm and emerge in a strong position on the other side. To that end, COVID-19 has been a powerful catalyst for AI adoption across all industries, as firms large and small alike seek technologies that can improve efficiency or create new commercial opportunities.  

“2021 looks set to be the year that AI adoption explodes. Indeed, the research shows that, having had a taste of what AI has to offer, many businesses will now be exploring how they can utilise deep tech to empower their employees and better service their customers. No doubt, we can expect AI to play a major role as businesses look to rebuild and grow in the coming months.”

About the research

The market research was carried out between 12th and 19th January 2021 among 772 decision makers within UK businesses via an online survey by independent market research agency Censuswide. The 772 respondents are all decision makers within UK businesses. They either have input into or final say on major decision within their organisations – their titles range from senior management to C-level executives.

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