A report from Advanced, the software and services provider, has revealed workers’ increasing hunger for innovation to improve the way they work. Findings from its Annual Trends Survey for 2019-20 show that disruptive tools are fast earning their spot as must-have tools in the day-to-day workplace.

As much as 38 per cent of the survey respondents say they are seeing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their daily working lives – up from 26 per cent last year – while 29 per cent are seeing chatbots (up from 18 per cent). One in four are seeing wearable technology and, perhaps most remarkably, 26 per cent are seeing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – a 15 per cent jump in 12 months.

These are just some of the key findings from Advanced’s fourth Annual Trends Survey for 2019-20, which has been conducted to give the mid-market business community its say on how British businesses are faring in the digital-first era. Over 1,000 senior decision makers working in UK organisations with more than 100 employees took part.

The survey also reveals that 77 per cent would be happy to work alongside robotic technology if it meant less manual processes – up from 65 per cent when compared to last year’s survey. Reassuringly, there is an increase in preparedness to make the change. Around half (52 per cent) say more than half of their organisation is ready to adopt new technology – up from 41 per cent.

“What’s clear from our latest report is that there is a growing appetite to adopt innovative technologies such as AI and RPA,” Gordon Wilson, CEO at Advanced, said. “Finally, these solutions are getting the reputation they deserve. These so-called disruptive tools have been given a bad name over the years, with the threat of robots taking people’s jobs.

“The reality is they enable businesses to accelerate and compete, as well as simply help staff work more productively and become more engaged. Manual processes typically take up a lot of people’s time so it’s a no-brainer if AI and RPA can eliminate some of these processes to free up the workforce to spend more time on higher value tasks.”

Interestingly, 51 per cent now believe a robot would be better at decision-making than their boss – a significant jump up from 34 per cent. While this figure might come as a blow, Gordon argues there will always be a need for human intervention and that leaders should see this as an opportunity to embrace technology to accelerate their decision-making abilities.

He adds: “12 months on and technology is more reliable and able to make faster and more accurate decisions – and this makes it the perfect ally for senior leaders. Robotic technology can operate 24/7, as well as automate a high volume of information to generate insights quickly, while leadership teams can use this information to make more informed decisions and gain the insight that’s required to look ahead.”

Advanced isn’t alone in efforts to encourage organisations to innovate and adopt technologies like AI and automation. The government, for example, has recently pledged £80m for the provision of automation services to accelerate the uptake of RPA across the wider public sector. Meanwhile, a Microsoft research report has warned that UK organisations will be held back if they fail to take advantage of the AI opportunity.

“Our own research indicates that organisations that fail to embrace AI in production and at scale will find themselves at a significant disadvantage within the next five years,” Alex Montgomery, Azure product director at Microsoft UK, added. “There are low-friction, low-risk entry points like conversational AI that organisations can easily, and affordably, get started with and prove its value before moving on to wider deployment of AI.”