How AI is Transforming the North East’s Economy

I am excited to be part of #TechNExt24 and looking forward to being in Newcastle next week to meet with local business leaders, customers and colleagues to talk about tech in the region and the role AI is playing.

Newcastle and the North East have seen remarkable transformation in recent years with the technology sector emerging as a key driver of economic growth and innovation.

We all know that Artificial Intelligence is a game-changer for businesses everywhere, including in the North East. AI technologies are being integrated into many sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics, enhancing efficiency and productivity. The region’s universities, Newcastle University and Durham University, are leading research and development in AI, pushing the boundaries of what is possible. These advancements not only attract investments but also create high-value jobs, further boosting the local economy. AI will change how things are being done, this also means that new jobs and roles will emerge as new industries are created.

AI can enable businesses to analyze vast amounts of data to make informed decisions, streamline operations, and improve customer experiences and in turn it can support making local industries more competitive. Many businesses may not be aware of the types of data they hold or even if AI can help them; understanding some of the barriers that are faced by SMBs is a critical part of developing an approach to AI and digital literacy.

At Sage, I see that AI is enabling our customers to automate entire, complex workflows and handle routine conversations with third parties; powering insights to allow users to make better decisions. Beyond enhanced productivity, many of our customers talk about the impact that these benefits have had on their businesses and their lives. Although at Sage, we have been investing in AI for years, we are very measured about succumbing to any hype that does not offer tangible benefits. Underneath all the conversations about AI is a consistent message: at Sage we will support SMBs to digitise their businesses safely. Developing a mindset of curiosity when it comes to AI will be a foundational skill for business owners

One of the core commitments we make to our customers is to never use AI in a way that erodes a customer’s trust in Sage or our products. We’re working hard to embed a philosophy of trusted AI among the SMBs we serve; therefore, we follow the maxim that investments in automation should be matched with equivalent investments in assurance. People will only transition their work to technology if they feel confident that the technology will do the job safely and accurately. I know that this is of concern to SMBs of all sizes and there are many simple approaches that can be used to support the safe use of AI, regardless of their business.
Overall, The North East’s business landscape is evolving and tech skills and AI are a key part of this. In this period of technological change, small and medium sized businesses will also evolve and it is important that they are equipped to adopt real digitisation and make the most of advancements in AI. Initiatives like TechNExt are an important part of this, where we shine a light on the progress being made, whilst working collaboratively to support a strong tech ecosystem in the North East.

Aaron Harris, CTO, Sage

Check out Sage’s Advice page for SMBs on AI HERE

Sage’s Data and Ethics Principles can be found HERE

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