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AI Adoption Project

Helping sector firms adopt AI & ML through collaborative design

What is the project?

A Government-funded research project to identify the challenges and friction costs that, if addressed, are likely to speed up adoption and diffusion of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and similar new technologies by professional services firms, and to propose solutions that the sector can implement.

The project focuses on mid-sized firms as this is the segment where intervention is likely to have maximum impact on the continued success of the overall sector.


Who’s behind the project?

Senior researchers from the business schools of Sheffield, Lancaster and Manchester; The University of the Arts London; the Forum; and specialist futures consultancy Normann Partners. Confirmed project supporters include: ICAEW; ACCA; ICAS; The Law Society; and The Law Society of Scotland. The project is funded by UK Research & Innovation, an independent Government agency, and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, working through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).


What’s special about the project?

Rather than focusing solely on the opportunities and threats of AI technologies, the project aims to:

  • Provide those at the coalface with strategies and business solutions based on a human-centric role for innovation and transformative technologies. Understanding this potential involves looking at individual firms, engagement levels, the outcomes provided to clients, and the business processes and predictions that are deployed; 
  • Develop a version of design thinking that helps sector leaders adopt new technologies. This involves exploratory prototyping of solutions designed in collaboration with a small group of ‘pragmatic’ firms to enable a rapid generation and assessment of potential future applications of AI across businesses. 
  • Recognise that the potential of AI remains hypothetical unless and until the leadership team at a firm has the authority, confidence and knowledge to persuade frontline advisers to embrace new ways of working. ‘Command & control’ is seldom a viable route to bring about change at a sector firm.


How will participating firms be selected?

There are some 600 law and accountancy firms with UK revenues between £5m and £250m. Only 2% are likely to be directly involved in exploratory prototyping of solutions.


What about the 98% that are not selected? 

The Forum has formed three AI Cascades for the 98%. Their primary purpose is to cascade knowledge from visionaries to pragmatists to conservatives. They will also inform the project, road-test emerging insights, and disseminate project findings.