New technologies like robotics can boost productivity, but it’s not currently a level playing field
There’s no doubt that embracing technology can be beneficial for your business, especially if you’re in manufacturing or any other industry where automation can make a huge difference to productivity.
A new report by the World Economic Forum and Accenture found that AI and big data analytics in particular could offer a return of $1.90 per employee for every $1 invested. However, based on a survey of 16,000 businesses, they also identified a worrying trend that doesn’t look good for SMEs.
They found that most of the progress in technologies such as AI, big data and robotics was being driven by the top 20% of companies in each industry; in other words, the big boys who can afford to invest a lot of money in innovation. This led to a warning that an ‘industry inequality’ could emerge, leaving smaller businesses struggling to keep up while their larger rivals steam ahead.
It’s easy to see how a productivity gap could be, at best, demoralising for SMEs and, at worst, fatal if allowed to widen unchecked. This is why assistance for smaller businesses who want to embrace innovation is so essential; whether that’s financial support to absorb the cost of new technology or in-house developments, or knowledge share programmes that allow SMEs to swim with the current.
If you’re developing AI, robotics, big data analytics, machine learning or any other technology that can help businesses get ahead, let us know on 0800 772 0800 – you could even appear on the pages of Breakthrough, our magazine dedicated to innovation in UK manufacturing and engineering.