AI to spark a new productivity boom?

A new productivity boom could be sparked by AI – Artificial Intelligence?

Who says so?

No less than two UK government ministers

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley says: “AI has the potential to improve our everyday lives” – precisely what productivity improvement is all about

And Business Secretary Greg Clark claims: “Huge social and economic benefits AI can bring”

Apparently, they and the government want to make Britain the world leader in AI and, in the process, add £630 billion to the UK economy

PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers), the management consultancy, go further and claim global GDP will be some 14% higher in 2030 as a result of AI – this is equivalent to an extra $15.7 trillion, with the greatest gains being realised in China and North America

Anand Rao, global leader of AI at PWC says: “The value of AI enhancing and augmenting what enterprises can do is large, if not larger than automation”

Businesses that fail to apply AI could quickly find themselves being undercut on turnround times as well as costs and experience, and may lose a significant amount of their market share as a result

Grand aims but how will this happen – and who will make it happen?

According to an article by Darren Roos of SAP change in the digital world is happening rapidly:

  • “We generate more data in a day than we used to produce in a decade
  • AI already helps reduce operational costs by automating manual tasks
  • Consider how, only a decade ago, smartphones were a rarity – now most people have one”


The Economist says: “Data is giving rise to a whole new economy – it’s as important to this century as oil was to the last one, creating new infrastructure, new businesses, new monopolies and new politics”

Indeed, AI is already recognised as being the most effective way to gain an edge over competitors

At the same time, according to Gartner, AI will be a ‘net job creator’ in the long run, freeing people from repetitive tasks to do more interesting work which adds more value to them and their employers

So who will make this happen?

Roos says: “It has to be a joint effort between businesses, academia and government”

The UK government has said it will focus on four key areas:

  • Developing AI skills
  • Increasing AI uptake
  • Improving data use and availability
  • Building on AI research


Roos applauds these target areas – as long as they are acted on NOW and not some vague moment in the future – otherwise Britain risks being left behind as other developed nations race ahead

He concludes: “AI or machine learning has the potential to directly support the success and growth of UK businesses – the future of our economy depends on us getting this right and the time to embrace it is NOW”

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