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UK at the forefront of government AI investment

Current and anticipated artificial intelligence spending is the highest in Europe despite various challenges around implementation, according to a report by Accenture

UK government organisations are taking the lead in artificial intelligence (AI) investment despite the various challenges around the implementation of the technology, according to a report by Accenture.

The study carried out with McGuire Research polled 300 government executives in Finland, France, Germany, Norway and the UK about the impact and potential for AI on their organisations.

It has found that the UK has the highest figures reported among all nations surveyed in terms of current and anticipated AI spending. Some 20% of UK respondents reported annual spending of more than £40m in AI, and nearly half (47%) said their organisation is investing between £12-£40m in AI.

“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,” said the director of operations, health and public service for Europe at Accenture, Mark Jennings.

In addition to the anticipated benefits of increased efficiencies, cost or time savings, as well as enhanced productivity, areas where respondents reported AI is delivering most benefits to public sector bodies are fraud and risk management, cited by 23% of those polled, and customer service (27%).

But there are challenges around the successful delivery of AI projects. The majority of those polled (83%) reported difficulties in procuring the right AI “building blocks”, while 52% mentioned security as a key barrier to achieving scale.

Additionally, 37% of respondents within public sector organisations pointed out the challenge of duplication of AI efforts and coordinating or planning AI implementation. Ethical or data privacy implications (35%), cost and expense (33%) as well as limited knowledge about AI applications and their potential, were cited as areas of concern.

When it comes to practical AI deployments, intent shouldn’t be misconstrued for ability and change is likely to happen at a slower pace than the government anticipates, according to Accenture’s Jennings.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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