One Simple Chart: Technology Adoption in the U.S.

I just came across a new paper that analyzes results from the 2018 Annual Business Survey, a study conducted by the US Census Bureau in partnership with the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. This survey was conducted over the second of half of 2018, and while the data is over a year old, the results still provide a measure of technology adoption pre pandemic. This is a large study, with thousands of respondents, and the survey included questions which measure expenditure on cloud services and use of advanced business technologies.

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Let’s first look at the results from Table 13: Business Technology Use Rates by Type. Note the low share of respondents who are “Using” machine learning and related technologies (Voice Recognition, Machine Vision, and Natural Language). We are very much in the early stages of adoption of automation technologies:

  • Using = share of respondents who chose “In use for less than 5% of production or service” ; “In use for between 5% – 25% of production or service” ; or “In use for more than 25% of production or service”
  • Testing = share of responsdents who chose “Testing but not using in production or service”

The paper also displays the rate of technology adoption by industry. The most eager user of machine learning is Manufacturing, and within Manufacturing the early adopters of ML were the following sectors:

The survey used spending to measure amount of usage cloud computing technologies. The researchers included the following question: “Considering the amount spent on each of the I.T. functions, how much was spent on cloud services?”. I’m personally interested in Data Storage (about a third are using the cloud) and Data Analysis (about a fifth are using the cloud):

  • “Using” is defined as having responded with “Up to 50%”, “More than 50%” or “All” for the item.
  • “Intensive Using” is defined as having responded with “More than 50%” or “All”.

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