Skip to main content

State of AI in the Enterprise, 5th Edition

Shining a light on the UK

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming how businesses operate and has become essential across all industries. AI goes beyond improving efficiency, providing an opportunity to reimagine what is possible. This executive summary explores the key differences between UK and global trends in AI, shining a light on areas where the UK sample must catch up with our global peers, as well as highlighting areas where we currently excel.

The State of AI in the Enterprise (5th edition) survey was conducted in Spring 2022. The survey provides vital insight into how businesses across the globe are using AI today and how they plan to harness it in the future. The report uses a sample of over 2,500 business leaders from 13 countries to understand how AI is transforming organisations. Of the business leaders surveyed, 200 were from the UK.

UK at risk of falling behind future AI investment

AI is widely deployed across many organisations. In our global sample 96 per cent of organisations have at least one major process or initiative which utilises AI, compared to 89 per cent of UK firms. While this gap is slight, there is evidence it might increase in the coming years. The UK is falling behind in terms of future investment, with only 63 per cent of UK business leaders expecting to increase AI investment, compared to 75 per cent of the overall global sample.

While the differences in current deployment are modest, there are contrasting outcomes in the perceived performance of AI investments. Overall, UK firms are underachieving with poorer outcomes. One marker of poorer performance is the time taken to recoup investment in AI. A third of the UK sample reported that payback on investment was slower than expected, compared to just 13 per cent of the global sample.

Moreover, the UK has fewer firms with high AI deployment (at least five or more AI applications) and achieving high outcomes (at least five or more positive results). The UK sample has significantly more ‘Starter’ firms with low deployment and low achievement of outcomes with 41 per cent in this category, compared to only 28 per cent of global firms. The UK sample also has fewer ‘Transformer’ firms with only 13 per cent identifying as achieving high deployment and high outcomes, compared to 27 per cent of global firms.

This is significant as the data shows firms with high deployment of AI are three times more likely to enter new markets, create new products or enable new business models. Adoption and use of AI can also lead to better outcomes including lowering costs, improving collaboration across business functions and discover new insights. The data reveals that UK firms are less likely to see increased revenue, enable new business models or reduce costs when compared to the global sample. As the UK lags behind in both level of deployment and performance from investment, there is a need for leaders in the UK to find the best possible use cases for AI, in order to catch up with our peers.

UK workforce is more fearful and less trusting of AI

While the data from the global survey shows the workforce is increasingly optimistic about the use of AI, employees in the UK are more cautious. Of the UK respondents, 62 per cent agree or strongly agree that AI has created fear in the workforce compared to just 47 per cent in the global sample. Similarly, only 62 per cent of the UK sample believe that employees trust AI more than their intuition versus 78 per cent in the global sample. This suggests that overall, employees in the UK are more fearful and less trusting of AI. There are a number of potential causes for this wariness. One could be that workers have less experience with AI. We know that fewer UK firms have worked with AI for more than ten years compared to the global sample, and employees are more likely to view AI as the domain of few, highly specialised workers. Another is that employees may have concerns about automation and losing their job: UK firms are perceived to be 6 per cent more likely to have reduced headcount than their global peers despite lower levels of AI deployment. The distrust may also be the result of poorer communication from leaders. Although senior leaders are doing a reasonable job at communicating the value of AI, UK firms are behind with only 74 per cent of respondents agreeing that their senior leaders have communicated the AI strategy, compared to 85 per cent in the global sample. This points to the need of improving communication of the value of AI.

UK respondents are also lagging behind in changes to their organisation’s management culture and processes to enable adoption of AI. This in contrast to the global sample where firms are engaging with AI initiatives such as redesigning talent practices, creating AI centres of excellence or assigning ownership of AI models to organisational service lines. More than 40 per cent of global firms use AI to assist in decision-making at the most senior levels, compared to 33 per cent of UK firms.

Causes for optimism

Although the UK respondents are falling behind in key metrics of AI deployment and performance, the UK sample ranks ahead in certain metrics of encouraging AI adoption. The UK outperforms the global sample in terms of rewards and incentives for AI pilots, use of key performance indicators for AI and educating workers how to use AI. The UK and the global sample agree that AI empowers people to make better decisions, as AI provides advantages to firms and helps differentiate them from competitors.

Businesses that invest in and adopt AI have a competitive advantage. Nearly 90 per cent of the global sample agree that their organisation’s use of AI differentiates them from competitors and is critical to advancing the organisation’s mission.


Focusing on the differences between the UK and global responses provides an opportunity to understand regional variations and recognise opportunities for transformation. Identifying where the UK differs from the global sample suggests areas where firms have an opportunity to align with better performing regions and increase deployment and performance of AI. This requires a shift for employees and senior leaders to recognise the enormous potential of AI and how this can transform the nature of business and the lives of employees.

To harness the power of AI, firms in the UK should invest in culture and leadership, finding new ways of working that are human-centred. Technology needs to be used alongside the workforce and transform operations to use AI more effectively, as this leads to better outcomes and greater return on investment. Organisations must take steps to empower their workforce – reskilling employees so that they can improve their grasp of AI and command its use cases themselves.

The emergence of generative AI will further democratise AI and help to remove some of the skills barriers for non-specialist employees to utilise it. AI needs to be not only implemented across functions but be at the core of a firm’s strategy to drive internal cultural and organisational change. Only then will the many benefits of AI be fully realised.

Did you find this useful?

Thanks for your feedback

If you would like to help improve further, please complete a 3-minute survey