Financial Services sector Leads the Way in Machine Learning, Shows New Appsbroker Market Survey

  • Machine Learning
  • 29.10.2020 04:16 pm

Appsbroker, the largest Google Cloud-only Managed Services Provider in EMEA published a comprehensive report of the health of Machine Learning in the UK private sector. Based on an extensive survey* amongst corporate UK IT leaders and decision makers, the report is the most comprehensive nationwide analysis of the state of Machine Learning (ML) in the UK. The insight the report provides is overwhelmingly positive, pointing to significant technical and commercial progression, while also underlining the challenges that must be overcome if ML is to be validated as one of the most transformative technologies for a generation.

Four key findings have emerged from the survey data:

  • In the first instance, ML for UK business is no longer a hypothetical possibility; more companies now are validating ML or are using it in a live business context than the proportion of companies that are still assessing its merits and applicability. 69% of UK companies report that ML will be relevant to their organisation in the next 36 months; with exactly a quarter saying it is relevant right now and a further 17% within 12 months. For this reason, the report has dubbed ML as a ‘now thing’ for business, reflecting its advancing maturity and commercial potential.
  • 39% of organisations surveyed are accelerating their ML initiatives in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Only 11% indicated that they were in any way de-prioritising ML activities while for half of respondents, their ML plans have remained unchanged by the pandemic.
  • While the investment levels businesses are prepared to commit to ML solutions are advancing, with 57% of companies expecting to invest more than £1m over the next 24 months, the report also contains a striking insight that the average UK company adopting ML expects to see a 10x return on investment. If realised, ML will become one of the most productive contributors to enterprise profitability of recent times.

The biggest barrier for delivering ML is the lack of in-house skills (cited by 44% of companies).

  • The report disavows a conventional wisdom that ML is destined to devour jobs and replace human endeavour. In fact, twice as many businesses (40%) saw ML as enhancing human roles in business as those who regarded the technology as central to automation and cost-cutting (20%).

Despite the overwhelmingly positive outlook, the report does however issue a stark warning to business that ML must shift constructively from being the preserve of analysts and technicians to a position in the heart of the business. 68% of businesses reported that ML sat within their IT or Data capability, with only 16% of companies confirming that the capability had been more fully integrated into commercial operations. Many respondents identified a lack of understanding and leadership for ML from senior executives as a major potential stall point for the technology and something that needs to be overcome to ensure ML’s successful evolution as a primary toolset in UK businesses.

Henry Brown, Head of Data & Machine Learning at Appsbroker said, “The report paints a very positive picture of Machine Learning adoption and value across a diverse spectrum of enterprise Britain. Clearly this picture is changing, but it is good to note that many of the indicators point to growth, increasing maturity and an expectation of very positive value, which is consistent with the experience we have at Appsbroker as we guide businesses through the process of ML adoption.”

Industry sector highlights include:

  • Financial Services organisations are the most likely to see ML as relevant to their business now or in the next 12 months (57%), followed by Healthcare (50%), Retail (48%) and Manufacturing and Industry (46%).
  • The investment champions are undoubtedly Financial Services organisations - almost a quarter (24%) of firms confirmed an intent to spend more than £5m on ML in the next two years, followed by the Technology sector with 21% of companies looking to make a similar level of investment.
  • Over half of Retail (57%) and Financial Services (52%) sector organisations are using ML for Fraud Detection to mitigate high financial risk and crime.
  • The use of ML for customer segmentation and marketing is being deployed most among Professional Services organisations (65%) ahead of the Retail sector which ranks second (with 52%).
  • A lack of in-house skills to embrace Machine Learning is most pronounced in the Healthcare sector (30%) and of least concern to the Manufacturing (13%) and Technology (14%) industries.
  • Of the third-plus businesses choosing to accelerate their focus on ML due to the pandemic, Healthcare and Technology companies are the most prominent sectors with

45% of companies in both categories planning to accelerate their investment in ML.

The 2020/21 Appsbroker Machine Learning Insight Report which spans all aspects of ML progression in UK companies is available to download:


*About the survey

To produce the report, Appsbroker commissioned an independent online survey in August 2020 among 312 companies spanning 16 industry sectors in the UK with staff headcounts ranging from SMEs of less than 50 personnel to major enterprise businesses of 5,000 plus staff. 56% of the survey respondents were from organisations employing more than 500 staff. The respondents were IT leaders and IT professionals responsible for their organisation’s ML activities. Data was collected and analysed by size of organisation and industry. The full report can be downloaded from:

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