Firms invited to access funded support as part of £1.8million project led by Lancaster University to boost uptake of digital technology and AI

82 per cent of businesses have changed their office space needs to accommodate a flexible working approach which includes more than half of businesses opening offices or working spaces outside of city centres, according to a new survey from IWG.

UK law and accounting firms are being invited to take advantage of funded support to explore how they can make better use of digital technology and artificial intelligence.

A range of support packages are now available as part of a £1.8million accelerator project, led by Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) and working with Oxford Brookes University and Hyperscale Group Limited, to help accounting and law firms develop and use digital technologies to become more productive and develop new services.

Mid-tier and smaller firms in these sectors are now being sought to join forces with researchers and accounting and law specialists on the three different support ‘pathways’ on offer to access practical, tailored help for firms at different stages of technology adoption.

The first support pathway offers firms that have minimal experience of advanced digital technology the chance to exploit the technology they already have, or can easily access – such as Microsoft 365 tools like Power Apps, Power Automate and Power BI – to enhance service delivery. Over the course of a few months, the firms will be supported in successfully applying a technology relevant to their business to help with a particular practice area or process.

The second pathway is for firms ready to take on a new technology and apply it to an important professional service or business task. This support package will help in the initial adoption phase as firms bed in sector-specific solutions over the course of 8-10 months.

The third pathway will support firms already relatively experienced in technology adoption in projects to extend or deepen the use of the technology over the course of 12 months+.

Professor Martin Spring from Lancaster University Management School is the lead researcher on the project. He said: “Financial and professional service sectors provide around 2.2 million jobs and contribute around £190bn to the UK economy – but research has shown that digital and AI technologies could unlock even more value within these UK professions.

“Our earlier study uncovered the barriers preventing professional service firms from adopting digital technology, and this accelerator project allows us to translate our findings into practical help so we can work hand-in-hand with firms throughout the technology adoption process.

“We are looking to recruit around 60 firms to the funded project, but encourage any interested businesses to get in touch. In addition to the support packages on offer we will be gathering insights from each of the firms we work with to create ‘roadmaps’ for the benefit of the whole sector, highlighting successful methods and tips for firms of all shapes and sizes.”