UK Government Organisations Leading on Artificial Intelligence Investment, according to Accenture study
Challenges remain when it comes to implementing the technology
London; Oct. 28, 2019 – Public service executives in the UK are optimistic and enthusiastic about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on government operations and services but face challenges implementing the technology, according to a multi-country study issued today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
The study found that the UK is significantly ahead on current and anticipated AI spending. One-fifth (20%) of UK respondents said their organisation is investing more than £40 million in AI annually, and nearly half (47%) said their organisation is investing between £12 million and £40 million in AI — the highest figures reported among the five-countries surveyed.
Benefits and barriers to achieving scale
Fraud and risk management and customer service are the two operational areas favoured most for AI deployments, cited by 23% and 27% of respondents, respectively. In addition, respondents most often cited increased efficiencies, cost or time savings, and enhanced productivity as the greatest anticipated benefits from their AI investments.
Despite the support and enthusiasm for AI deployments, respondents said their organisations are experiencing systemic challenges to delivering successful AI projects. Nearly six in seven (83%) cited difficulties in procuring the right AI building blocks — most notably security concerns (52%) as a top barrier to achieving scale. Below this, 37% are finding duplication of AI efforts and coordinating or planning AI implementation a challenge. Ethical or data privacy concerns (35%), cost and expense (33%) and limited knowledge about AI applications and their potential are also concerns.
“The findings of our research indicate a healthy appetite and investment in AI technologies,” said Mark Jennings, who leads Accenture’s Health & Public Service offering in Europe. “In fact, the government has recently announced considerable investment in education and skills for AI, which is a very welcome move.
“In terms of practical deployment today, intent shouldn’t be misconstrued for ability and change is likely to happen at a slower pace than the government anticipates. A clearer understanding of the potential of AI and a readiness to think more holistically about outcomes will empower public sector leaders to deliver successful AI deployments and integrate the technology into their operations. To deliver success, an organisation-wide approach must be taken to AI projects, with a focus on ensuring data integrity, practical considerations and employee support for an understanding of the transformative power of AI.”
Scaling AI deployments within organisations
Most respondents (78%) cited a medium to very high risk of AI use cases being duplicated within their organisation or within lower levels of government due to a lack of internal collaboration and leadership oversight. However, most respondents believe that their organisation’s leadership is supportive of AI projects, with only one-fifth (23%) reporting a lack of support from the top for such initiatives.
“Our survey shows that UK government organisations are investing in AI technology ahead of our European peers,” Jennings continued. “Thanks to increased government funding for AI projects, a strong ability to scale AI investments, and a skilled workforce, the UK will continue to be a world-leader in AI from which our economy will reap benefits in the coming years.”
Country and sector comparisons
The research found differences in respondents’ perceptions of, approaches to and spending on AI across the countries and sector studied. For instance:
- The UK outstrips the other countries in terms of AI investment: Respondents from Norway cited the lowest levels of investment in AI, with less than one-quarter (22%) saying that they’re investing between £12 million and £40 million annually — whereas nearly half (47%) of U.K. respondents said their organisation is investing that amount
- The UK and Finland appear most optimistic about AI: Together, respondents from these countries reported a higher perceived level of impact from AI. These countries also expressed an intent to scale more use cases in the next year compared to other countries. However, Finland lags behind other countries in terms of a self-assessed ability to scale, on average trailing 19% behind other countries in terms of reporting a strong/very strong ability
Accenture surveyed 300 government executives and IT decision-makers in five European countries —Finland, France, Germany, Norway and the UK — to gather their views on AI and the impact of AI technologies on their organisations. The survey was undertaken in collaboration with McGuire Research and conducted online during June 2019. Results for the multi-country sample are statistically significant with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. Respondents are senior officials in the public-service sector and are in IT decision-making roles, with titles including CIO, CTO and IT director.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 492,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com
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