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New Research: How do Business Owners Really feel About AI?

We surveyed over 250 UK business owners to find out how many of them use artificial intelligence technologies in business and how they feel about AI
New Research: How do Business Owners Really feel About AI?

How do Business Owners Really feel About AI?

Here at Esme Loans, we hugely value artificial intelligence (AI) and how it’s enabled us to offer an almost instantaneous online service for business owners looking for finance – we’ve even made the first-ever AI pie. Knowing the true potential of AI, we wanted to find out how savvy and open-minded other UK business owners are when it comes to AI technology and its offering.

In October 2019, we surveyed over 250 UK business owners to find out how many of them use artificial intelligence technologies in business, how they feel about AI and whether they plan to invest in it in the future. Before we jump into the survey results, let’s have a look at what AI means:

Artificial intelligence, also known as AI, is the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.

An example of AI technology includes the spam filter on your inbox – your email provider can recognise what is of use to you and what isn’t through your behaviour on the platform.

Voice assistant devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home also use AI technology in order to provide accurate results. Each time Alexa or other voice assistant devices make a mistake in interpreting your request, that data is used to make the system smarter the next time around.

Changing perceptions


The survey revealed that there is still a long way to go in terms of educating business owners on what AI is and changing the perception of it. 43% of business owner’s said they don’t understand how AI can benefit their business, 60% of business owners feel like they have overlooked the potential of AI, while, perhaps unbelievably,16% of business owners still associate AI technology with robots taking over the world. 29% of the business owners surveyed admitted to feeling scared, reluctant or apprehensive about using AI technology.

However, the majority of business owners do feel positive about working with AI technology - over half of business owners (51%) are open-minded about using AI technology and 1 in 10 business owners (9%) feel excited about the prospect of using AI for their business - but there’s still a long way to go before businesses embrace AI and its full potential.

How do you feel about AI chart

AI in business


AI comes in many forms and is used in many day to day websites and tools we find ourselves using, both in our personal and working environment. We initially asked those surveyed if they were knowingly using AI technology within their business, more than 1 in 10 business owners said they use AI technology in their business every single day. However, a huge 73% of business owners said they don’t knowingly use AI technology. We then asked them to choose online tools or websites that they may use from a long list, this list included social networks, Gmail, voice assistant devices and more. Unsurprisingly, all of those surveyed admitted to using at least one of the websites or tools from the list. Which means the 73% of business owners that said they don’t use AI technology and the 29% of business owners that said they were scared, reluctant and apprehensive about AI, are actually already using it.

The impact of artificial intelligence on business can be huge, it could allow businesses to grow and make more profit in the long run by increasing productivity in selected areas, from manufacturing to bookkeeping. 67% of business owners surveyed said they would consider using AI technology if it improved productivity. The biggest area that business owners are looking for AI assistance with is data analysis, with 39% of business owners agreeing, in second was marketing with 37% followed by bookkeeping with 31%.

What areas would you consider using AI chart

The Future of AI technology for businesses


The future of AI in business is incredibly bright as it develops further and it is utilised by more SMEs and large corporations to maximise revenue and business productivity. According to our research, 39% of business owners will be investing in AI Technology in the next 5 years, with almost 1 in 10 business owners planning to invest in AI in the next 12 months.

Younger business owners seem slightly more tech-savvy and open-minded with 67% of business owners aged 34 and under saying they are planning to invest in AI technology in the next 5 years, compared to 41% of 45+ year olds.

AI technology has the power to revolutionise previously costly or time-consuming elements of a business and therefore can improve the way businesses operate altogether - 52% of business owners said they think AI will change their sector in the next 10 years.

When do you expect to invest in AI chart

How to use AI in your business?


If you’re one of the 51% of business owners that feel open-minded about using AI, the first step is to outline the areas of your business that require support. Perhaps accounting and bookkeeping require too much of your time? Or you want to make the manufacturing aspect of your business more efficient? There are many ways you can incorporate AI technology into your business, whether it be through existing tools and websites or through custom technology that is designed with your business in mind. It’s wise to research for any existing tools or websites initially as custom AI technology can be costly.

If you’d like to find out more about the impact of artificial intelligence on business and how to use AI in your business, head over to our blog.

How could Esme help?

AI may seem far-fetched, but in fact, artificial intelligence for small businesses is becoming more affordable and advanced with many online tools and websites dedicated to increasing productivity within your business.

If you’re looking for finance to invest in AI technology for your business, get in touch today. We’ve helped hundreds of UK SMEs by offering online business loans from £10,000* to £250,000 over a 1 to 5 year repayment period. For more information about our business loans and how to apply, click here.

*£25,000 for sole traders.