Family Business Report 2024: 11% of businesses embraced AI but more likely benefit without realising


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing an increasingly significant role in modern business operations, often without business owners even realising it.

Armstrong Watson’s latest Family, Privately-Owned and Owner-Managed Business Survey has found 11% of businesses already use AI within their business and a further 22% are considering implementing the technology.

While more than half of the 300 respondents believe AI is not relevant to their business and 11% said they don’t know what it is, many businesses might already be benefitting from AI.

In what ways do businesses use AI?

Operational and financial software companies are increasingly embedding AI technology within their software – something many businesses use every day. These AI enhancements range from simple tasks, such as using machine learning to address customer support queries or automating data processing, to more advanced tasks like employing AI algorithms to analyse historical financial data, enabling businesses to identify trends and forecast future performance. This capability proves particularly valuable in pinpointing and addressing cash flow fluctuations.

The momentum towards greater automation and AI shows no signs of slowing down. Finance software providers are actively planning to deploy chat assistants for tasks such as invoice creation, debt management and data interpretation. This dynamic landscape offers significant efficiencies to businesses using the right software.

AI can also help businesses create new ways to stand out from competitors with new ideas, products and services.

Currently, the most well-known AI tools are Large Language Models (LLM), including ChatGPT, Copilot and Bard, which have a chat-like interface. These tools are useful for tasks such as helping with ideas for creative writing, adverts, titles and presentations, and can save time by summarising or bullet-pointing complex documents.

It is important to note that free versions of LLM tools record the questions that are asked and use this information to provide better answers in the future. However, this means the information could be retrieved by someone else. Paid-for versions, such as Microsoft Copilot, don’t store this data.

Making Tax Digital shift

The survey also asked businesses about the impact of the Government’s impending Making Tax Digital Legislation, which will be extended to cover self-assessment tax returns from April 2026.

This means that businesses will be required to submit quarterly tax return information to HMRC, as opposed to a tax return once per year. It will be phased in according to business size and type.

While 32% of the survey respondents already use cloud accounting software – which puts them in a good position for the new requirements, 16% did not know what this latest phase of Making Tax Digital was and 30% of businesses did not know the impact for them.

Although the exact details and processes for submission are still being tested by HMRC, this could be a significant burden for businesses and many of them will need their accountants to support them with these new demands.

The shift towards cloud-based systems and greater software integration, coupled with the rise of AI, is allowing us to find solutions that streamline processes and drive efficiencies. Many business owners are increasingly seeking advice and assistance with replacing or optimising their software and systems.

View the full report.


If you would like to find out how cloud accounting software and AI can benefit your business, please get in touch. Call 0808144 5575 or email

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