Over four fifths of UK businesses yet to exploit AI: Education sector leads the way

  • Under a fifth (16%) of UK businesses are currently using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, 
  • Of the 84% of businesses not using AI, 81% won’t be adopting AI technologies within the next three months
  • The Education sector has the second highest percentage (35%) of businesses using AI
  • The Accommodation & Food and Construction sectors have the lowest adoption of AI (8%)

Data[1] analysed by the business experts at Forbes Advisor, the price comparison and financial guidance platform, reveals over four fifths (84%) of UK businesses are currently not using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.

In the next three months, four in five of these businesses (81%) still do not plan to adopt AI technologies. Regarding the reasons why businesses are not adopting AI technologies, over three quarters (77%) reported the lack of internal expertise as the main reason.

Almost two thirds of businesses not using AI (61%) reported difficulty in identifying a business use, while over half (53%) stated that the cost was their primary concern.

The Information & Communications sector has the highest percentage of businesses using article intelligence, with over two in five (43%) businesses in the sector adopting AI technology.

This was followed by the Education sector, with over a third (35%) of businesses currently using AI and another 40% stating they plan to adopt AI technology in the next three months.

Accommodation & Food Service and Construction sectors have the lowest adoption of AI technology, with just 8% of businesses in these industries currently using some form of AI. 

In the next three months, this is expected to increase slightly as one in ten (10%) of businesses in the Construction sector plan to use AI and 9% in the Accommodation & Food Service sector make plans to adopt this technology.

Industries using Artificial Intelligence technologies

Industry % of businesses currently using AI
Information and Technology 43%
Education 35%
Arts, entertainment and recreation 26%
Professional, scientific and technical activities 20%
Human health and social work activities 15%
Real Estate 14%
Wholesale and retail trade 14%
Manufacturing 14%
Administrative and Support service 10%
Transportation and Storage 8%
Construction 8%
Accommodation and food service 8%

Source: Forbes Advisor

The main AI feature that is being used by businesses is text generation. Nearly one in five (19%) of businesses in the Information & Communications sector are using this technology, as well as a similar proportion (18%) of businesses in the Education sector.

This was followed by visual content creation, which saw 14% of IT businesses using this technology, and 6% in the Education sector. 

UK regions adopting AI technologies

Region %of businesses using AI
London 43%
Scotland 39%
North East 38%
Northern Ireland 38%
East of England 35%
North West 36%

Source: Forbes Advisor

Further analysis of the data revealed the rate at which UK regions are adopting AI technology. London has the highest proportion of businesses using AI, with over two fifths (43%) of businesses currently using some form of AI technology.

Scottish businesses were the next most likely (39%) to adopt AI, closely followed by North East England (38%) and Northern Ireland (38%).

The West Midlands and South West had the lowest adoption rate with just over a third of businesses in these regions (34%) using AI. 

Kevin Pratt, business expert at Forbes Advisor, says: 

“AI has burst onto the scene in 2023, garnering headlines about how it will transform all aspects of modern life. But our research suggests that, in the real world of business and commerce, it will need to jostle with other priorities for the attention of company owners and senior managers.

“Businesses are struggling to make headway in an inflationary environment, where high costs and sluggish demand are putting a tight squeeze on margins. In this context, it’s not surprising that some firms are holding fire with regard to the investment in the kit and skilled staff needed to exploit the undoubted potential of AI.

“Ultimately, businesses need to be pragmatic when it comes to adopting AI. They need to be open to the benefits it can offer in terms of innovation, operating efficiency and cyber security, but it must remain the servant rather than the master. Companies must remain true to their core purpose, and AI should be a tool to help them achieve it, not an end in itself.”