Government-commissioned research led by University of Sheffield will help law and accountancy firms adopt new technologiesThursday, November 29th, 2018
- Research project will help mid-sized law and accountancy firms adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies – helping to improve the productivity and prosperity of cities and regions across the UK
- Sheffield University Management School-led project is one of three successful bids to the Industrial Strategy Challenges Fund Next Generation Services call
A major new research project led by the University of Sheffield will help mid-sized law and accountancy firms adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to improve productivity.
A team of researchers, led by Professor Tim Vorley from the University of Sheffield’s Management School, is one of three successful bids to the Industrial Strategy Challenges Fund (ISCF) Next Generation Services call.
The research, commissioned by the UK government, will focus on helping people adopt new technologies.
Professor Vorley will lead a team of colleagues from the University of Sheffield; Lancaster University; Manchester Business School; The University of the Arts, London; as well as non-academic partners the Managing Partners’ Forum and Normann Partners.
The project, Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design, will focus on firms that are cautious or uncertain over how to implement technological change.
Rather than focusing solely on new technologies, the research will involve exploratory prototyping of solutions designed in collaboration with firms to enable a rapid generation and assessment of potential future applications of artificial intelligence across businesses. This is critical if adoption within sector firms is to be broadened.
The services sector accounts for almost 80 per cent of the UK economy, with professional services the largest sub-sector representing 11 per cent of GDP.
Professor Vorley said: “Understanding the transformative potential of AI involves looking at individual firms, the outcomes provided to clients, and the business processes and predictions that are deployed.
“Our project will focus on understanding the technological and behavioural barriers facing mid-sized legal and accountancy firms, and suggesting potential solutions, as this is the segment where intervention will have maximum impact on the continued success of the overall sector.”
Dr Chay Brooks, a co-investigator at Sheffield University Management School, added: “The adoption of AI will have a transformative impact on professional service businesses. Given the emphasis in the Industrial Strategy on the place agenda, our work focusing on mid-tier legal and accountancy firms is important for the productivity and prosperity of cities and regions across the UK.”
Richard Chapin, a co-investigator from the Managing Partners’ Forum. said: “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 professional firm.”
Business Secretary, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, said: “The UK is the home of AI – from Alan Turing’s pioneering work to today’s growing use of AI throughout the economy. Artificial Intelligence is changing how we work, live and play.
“Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we want to build on our history of innovation to develop and deploy AI to create new opportunities and improve services across the whole economy.”