Businesses are looking to ramp up their investment in Industry 4.0 technology, such as artificial intelligence, big data and drones, to enhance customer service and profitability, new research has shown.
Analysis of Australian businesses carried out for the Alleasing Equipment Demand Index found 28.8% of companies are planning to increase their asset base in the third quarter of 2017, with 5.6% intending to invest in artificial intelligence and 6.3% in drone technology.
Around one-quarter of companies will be investing in big data, although the proportion varies according to company size and industry sector.
The services sector – which includes health and education – is most interested in big data, with 26.3% of businesses planning to add this type of asset in the coming quarter, followed by manufacturing (22.2%).
Daniel Blizzard, Alleasing’s chief executive, said: “While demand for traditional assets such as cars, trucks and manufacturing plant and equipment have remained stable or are in mild decline, the Index is tracking a marked interest in artificial intelligence, big data and drones.
“A majority of businesses tell us that the main benefit of investing in this technology relates to cost, but nearly four in ten also indicate that new technology will support their business growth.”
Investment sentiment in the retail sector continues to lag behind the general market, with only 22% of retail businesses stating that they intend to increase their asset base, compared to 36.8% in the accommodation/café/restaurant sector.
Services and agriculture are also both strong at around 34%. The Index also highlights a potential silver lining from the devastation of Cyclone Debbie, which hit Queensland in March.
Among the states and territories, Queensland recorded the highest percentage of businesses planning to increase assets, at 31%, suggesting that the reconstruction effort is underway and is likely to have a positive impact on the state’s economy.
The Queensland result contrasts with lacklustre growth intentions in Western Australia, where a significantly lower 22% plan to add assets, and in South Australia/Northern Territory, where the figure is 22.5%.
The Equipment Demand Index is a quarterly report which interviews around 500 Australian businesses with turnover between $5 million and $250 million per year.
Alleasing is an independent provider of capital solutions that has financed billions of dollars’ worth of assets, supporting the capital needs of government entitles and corporations across Australia and New Zealand for more than 25 years.