Brexit hastening business automation, study suggests

INVESTING IN AI: Managing director of major corporates and public sector at BT, Colm O❝Neill, right, believes research gives us a fascinating insight into the early adoption of AI, automation and other disruptive technologies in the UK workplace

BUSINESSES are increasing their use of robotic automation rather than hiring new staff, a study suggests.

A survey of more than 600 UK companies across several sectors, including manufacturing, indicated that nine out of 10 had automated parts of their operations in recent months, including customer services and data management.

Consultants Proservartner said many of those questioned were making changes because of fears there will be a shortage of skilled workers after Brexit.

Companies employing between 250 and 500 workers were most likely to have automated some of their business in the last six months, said the report.

Rakesh Sangani, chief executive of Proservartner, said: "For those that want to remain competitive, automation is not a choice, it's an unavoidable business reality.

"Clearly, Brexit is accelerating the adoption and in the long term, that could prove to be a positive thing for the UK."

A separate report suggested that only a fraction of businesses are confident their staff are well placed to take advantage of the rising use of new technology.

The 5% Club said its research indicated that firms were facing challenges such as an ageing workforce, a continuing skills gap and rising use of new technology such as artificial intelligence (AI).

The business group said the increasing use of AI and other technological advances will become the "expected norm" for firms to thrive.

Lady Cobham, director general of the 5% Club, said: "Work-based training opportunities can provide a significant part of the solution, offering employers the chance to drive new skills and training in line with how their business model and order pipeline will look in the next five to 10 years."