UK businesses that adopt AI earn millions more than those that don't

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Incorporating AI into your business model can be a lucrative move. According to new research, UK businesses that use it as part of their key service offering make an average of 152% more per year in revenue – equivalent to £9 million each.

In an analysis of the financial performance and growth trends of more than 9,000 UK companies in the UK, digital marketing agency Embryo found growth of 12.2% for businesses that adopt AI as part of their core offering, compared with 6.5% for those that don’t.

"The UK is seeing a transformative shift in the number of businesses adopting AI into their core business functions. We all see this, but in 2024 this is going to increase greatly. Business owners are becoming increasingly more aware of AI’s capabilities and its game-changing potential to accelerate growth and boost revenue efficiently," said Embryo’s chief innovation officer, James Welch. 

"As more companies become educated on the benefits, the data we have found suggests that this trend will gain even more momentum in years to come. That momentum will not be linear."

The data analysis industry emerged as the leader in terms of the industries that are adopting AI, accounting for 41% of the share of the total 3,715 AI-focused companies surveyed. 

But, say the researchers, between 2022 and 2023 there was also a big uptick in adoption in image processing, green tech and natural language processing, with around one in ten of each sector using AI as part of their core business. 

This diversity is due to massively increase in the coming years, Embryo claimed.

"The automation of routine tasks, advanced data analytics, and machine learning algorithms allow companies to make informed decisions, streamline processes, and significantly increase their revenue streams," said Welch. 

"2024 and the next few years will see AI seep into more areas of business, and will almost certainly become useful in areas we have not yet even contemplated."

London has by far the most AI focused businesses, the researchers found, at 2,851, followed by Manchester with 296, Leeds with 238, Cambridge with 196 and Reading with 150.

When it comes to cities that are bringing in the most money from AI, the City of London's AI businesses are pulling in £16 billion in revenue, followed by Runnymede with £10 billion, Westminster with £3 billion, Cambridge with £1.7 billion and Reading with £1.5 billion.

"As the financial hub, the City of London is, as expected, a natural site for AI innovation with businesses capitalising on advanced technologies to navigate the complexities of the financial sector," said the researchers.

The report's findings echo those of research from contract management software company Icertis, which recently found that nearly half of senior leaders in the UK and US expect generative AI to boost their bottom line next year.

It also chimes with research carried out  last year from the McKinsey Global Institute that concluded generative AI has the potential to generate value equivalent to between $2.6 trillion (£2 trillion) and $4.4 trillion (£3.5 trillion) in global corporate profits annually. 

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.