Automation a growing priority for many Yorkshire businesses

Research conducted by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO has revealed that 8% of total business spend in Yorkshire is dedicated to implementing automated processes such as robotics & AI.

This compares with the national average of 9%. The same research has found that 88% of Yorkshire companies have also automated a key process in the last year.

In the first of a series of chief financial officer surveys, BDO spoke to 200 CFOs and financial directors across Great Britain to understand how important automation is to their business.

The report, “New Economy: Investing in Automation” shows that senior leaders across the country expect automation to be pivotal to their businesses and employees’ development in the coming year.

In Yorkshire, 12% of businesses view automation as the most important investment priority for the next year and this nearly doubles (to 22%) when reflecting on the next five years.

When it comes to types of technology implemented, around one in five (20%) CFOs based in Yorkshire have already implemented robotics in some way into their business, in line with the British average.

However, the respondents from Yorkshire companies remain cautious of artificial intelligence, with only 12% having implemented this technology, compared to the national average of 31%.

While 22% support the view that automation poses a threat to job security, a similar number (20%) believe the impact on jobs is likely to be positive and actually create jobs.

They predict automation will provide new growth opportunities for businesses, requiring a larger number of workers to facilitate its development, and create more jobs and provide new growth opportunities for businesses.

When it comes to training staff, nearly half (46%) of businesses in Yorkshire have invested in this due to increased automation, the highest of all regions.

Terry Jones, partner and head of BDO in Leeds, said: The region continues to enjoy business growth across a number of sectors and it’s encouraging to now see businesses with plans for investment in automation.

“This should help to increase productivity in the region, encourage innovation and reinvent roles and sectors which in turn boost the economy.

“In the North, we have a global reputation for invention and ingenuity and while it’s understandable in the current climate that business leaders have other priorities in the short-term, there could be real growth opportunities for those who embrace these new technologies as part of Industry 4.0.”