Breaking barriers to AI Adoption

Breaking barriers to AI Adoption
Jonathan Taylor
November 18, 2023
5 min read

Bridging the Gap to the 4th Industrial Revolution

As the dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) beckons, the allure of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is unmissable. However, for the UK’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), stepping into the AI domain is often seen as venturing into uncharted territory. This article delves into the intricate barriers that SME owners face and highlights pathways to overcome these hurdles.

Cost - The cost barrier often looms large on the path to AI adoption. However, the emergence of cost-effective AI packages is gradually changing this narrative, making AI an attainable goal for businesses of all sizes, from sole traders to multinationals.

Lack of Understanding - Delving into the realm of AI can be intimidating, especially given its technical nature. The barriers here are quite pronounced:

  • The primary hurdles include limited expertise (39%), rising data complexity (32%), and the absence of requisite tools or platforms (28%), which often deter businesses from exploring the AI frontier.
  • A certain survey spotlighted a significant lack of understanding concerning AI among UK manufacturing SMEs, indicating a knowledge gap that needs bridging.
  • Mesh-AI’s report disclosed that 22% of respondents identified a lack of understanding of technology as the foremost obstacle to AI adoption. The good news is, with the right guidance and resources, demystifying AI and realizing its potential becomes an achievable feat.

Integration Challenges - The task of amalgamating AI into existing frameworks presents a set of challenges:

  • AI integration is perceived as a linchpin in redefining operational and strategic landscapes for UK SMEs, opening doors to enhanced efficiency and competitive advantage.
  • The recommendation of designating a “champion” or a small team to lead the AI integration process is seen as a viable solution to streamline the process, ensuring a focused and structured approach towards AI adoption.
  • Deploying enterprise AI comes with its set of challenges, including finding or customising models and algorithms (67%), setting up infrastructure (43%), and preparing data (38%), each posing a unique challenge that demands attention. Nevertheless, with a strategic approach, these hurdles can be surmounted, paving the way for a smooth AI integration that propels SMEs into the new age of digital innovation.

Skill Shortages - The scarcity of skilled AI professionals poses a significant challenge:

  • Around 29% of SMEs view the shortage of skilled workers as a high-risk factor, with merely 1-in-10 small businesses possessing in-demand AI skills.
  • This skill gap poses a risk to the successful adoption and integration of AI technologies.
  • The tight labour market in the UK is further strained by a global shortage of AI data scientists, as highlighted by techUK members, amplifying the challenge of finding the right talent.

In conclusion, while the road to AI adoption may seem fraught with challenges, they are not insurmountable. The right guidance, strategic planning, and access to resources can significantly ease the journey... With expert assistance becoming available, the journey towards becoming a part of the 4th Industrial Revolution becomes not only achievable but also a promising venture towards a technologically empowered future.

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Jonathan Taylor
November 30, 2023