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The AI opportunity: Sage boss Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the CEO of Sage Group and says small businesses have a lot to gain from AI.
It is vital for the UK economy that AI does not leave small businesses behind.
I was recently asked to join the government’s new AI Opportunities Forum, created to explore the potential of AI to revolutionize healthcare and public services, but also its ability to fundamentally change the lives of those who build and grow their businesses. own businesses.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) want to see the benefits of time savings, but not to be able to eliminate jobs.
SMEs are the backbone of our economy and a crucial driver of future growth – they make up 99 per cent of UK businesses and support 27 million jobs across the country.
Policymakers should therefore think very carefully about how we can ensure that AI is used to ensure that small and medium-sized businesses are more efficient and profitable, which will save the taxpayer in the long term.
From running Sage, I know that small businesses continually look for practical solutions to the everyday challenges caused by inflation and difficulties in attracting and retaining talent.
AI does not, nor should it, portend a future of major job losses.
It should be a catalyst for growth, innovation and economic prosperity. For UK small and medium-sized businesses, it represents an unrivaled opportunity to increase productivity and strategic value, paving the way to a prosperous, AI-powered future, but we must ensure they have a voice in the debates taking place today. .
In this context, AI is less about replacing human skills and more about enhancing them. There is a pressing need for improvement in areas such as workflow automation, compliance and cash flow, and AI could be an answer.
It is already being used to automatically categorize bank transactions for digital tax filing, reducing the time needed to close financial periods by almost 80%. These time savings gained on other tasks will transform the way SMEs can operate and accelerate the growth of their businesses.
SMEs consider that trust is vital
In the many daily conversations I have with SME owners and their accountants across the UK, trust emerges as the overriding consideration when adopting AI. Keeping promises, demonstrating benefits, and ensuring confidentiality are crucial.
For SMEs to use AI with confidence, they need to ensure that the responses generated are reliable and that their employees are adequately trained to implement AI without introducing new risks. People will only trust their own work to technology if they believe it is safe and accurate, and that a human is always in control.
The successful application and adoption of AI, aimed at meeting the AI Opportunity Forum’s goal of creating more than £400 billion in economic value for the UK economy by 2030, requires collaboration between standard setters and the private sector , guided by a solid digital economy agenda.
AI developers must follow universal standards that establish trust, safeguard data privacy and individual rights, and promote social inclusion and equity.
At the same time, these standards should equally promote innovation and economic growth.
Additionally, we must prioritize equipping people with future-ready skills to leverage AI to advance their business and administrative processes.