BusinessLeadership_AIReport_Hero-5baccd87695dc
Read Time, 4 min.

While the hype of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential role as a driver of transformational change to businesses and industries is pervasive, there are limited insights into what companies are actually doing to reap its benefits. The Artificial Intelligence Report, conducted by Ernst & Young, aims at getting a deeper understanding of how companies currently manage their AI activities, and how they address the current challenges and opportunities ahead.

To get to the heart of the AI agenda, we received input from AI leaders in 277 companies, across 7 sectors and 15 countries in Europe, via surveys and/or interviews. Below is a brief summary of what they had to say.

AI is a “hot topic” – but more so on C-level than in daily operations

71% of the companies respond that AI is considered an important topic on the executive management level. This is significantly higher than on the non-managerial / employee level where AI is only considered an important topic in 28% of the companies. Interestingly, Board of Directors also came out lower with ‘only’ 38% of respondees reporting that AI is important to their board.

71% of the companies respond that AI is considered ‘an important topic’ on the executive management level

Most impact expected from ‘optimizing operations’, with ‘engaging customers’ as a close second

89% of the respondents expect AI to generate business benefits by optimizing their companies’ operations in the future. This is followed by 74% that expect AI to be key to engaging customers. This can be done by enhancing the user experience, tailoring content, increasing response speed, adding sentiment, creating experiences, etc.

C-suite respondents scored ‘engaging customers’ highest of the AI benefit areas. 100% Of the most advanced companies expect AI will help them engage customers, compared to only 63% of the less mature companies. Using AI to ‘transform products and services’ comes out slightly lower with 65%. ‘Empowering employees’ comes out the lowest with 60% of the companies expecting AI-generated benefits in that area.

AI is expected to impact entirely new business areas in the future

57% of the companies expect AI to have a high or a very high impact on business areas that are “entirely unknown to the company today”. This is almost as much as AI is expected to impact the core of these companies’ current business. 65% is expecting AI to have a high or a very high impact on the core business. With AI presumably pushing companies into totally new domains in the future, it is perhaps not surprising that AI is receiving attention as a key topic for executive management.

“Advanced” with AI

Despite the apparent sizable impact that companies expect from AI, only a very small proportion of companies, constituting 4% of the total sample, self-report that AI is actively contributing to ‘many processes in the company and enabling quite advanced tasks today’ (referred to as ‘most advanced’ in this report).

Only 4% of the companies are actively using AI in ‘many processes and to enable advanced tasks’

Another 28% are in the ‘released’ stage where they have put AI selectively to active use in one or a few processes in the company. The majority, 51% of companies, are still only planning for AI or are in early stage pilots. 7% of companies are self-rated as least mature, indicating that they are not yet thinking about AI at this stage.

Noticeable potential for AI in many corporate functions

The most widely reported adoption of AI (47%) was in the IT/Technology function, followed by R&D with 36%, and customer service with 24%. Interestingly, several functions are hardly using AI at all; most notably, the procurement function, where only 4% of the companies currently use AI. This is followed by HR with 7% and product management with 9%. This is perhaps surprising, given the many use cases and applicable solutions in these functional areas.

8 key capabilities that are most important ‘to get AI right’

When asking the respondents to rank the importance of 8 capabilities to enable AI in their businesses, ‘advanced analytics’ and ‘data management’ emerged as the most important. ‘AI leadership’ and having an ‘open culture’ followed.

When self-assessing the capabilities where the companies are least competent, they point to emotional intelligence and AI leadership. AI leadership is defined as the (lack of) ability to lead an AI transformation by articulating a vision, setting goals and securing broad buy-in across the organization. To summarize, the challenge ahead appears to be as much about culture and leadership as it is about data, analytics, and technology.

Free AI report: Artificial Intelligence in Western Europe - How 277 major European companies benefit from AI

Discover how your Western European peers use AI to digitally transform their organization

Discover more related articles per industry:

Education

Finance & Insurance

  • How to transform banking with Personetics’ revolutionary app

    How to transform banking with Personetics’ revolutionary app

    A new generation of customers now expects much more from banking. The customer journey, not the product, needs to be the focus for financial services. And the key to enhancing it is data.   Personetics is responding to this demand with its white label solution that allows any bank to start to maximize the benefits of […]

  • Two people wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera

    Why the bank of the future is in the cloud

    Financial services company Belfius will transfer all of its banking services to the cloud over the next seven years. This initiative is an important pillar in the company’s strategy to adapt to the changing needs of its customers – making its processes more cost-effective, safe and sustainable. This is a pioneering step for Belfius. In […]

Government

Healthcare

Manufacturing

  • A Maersk container

    Maersk and Onomondo: a partnership that’s making all the right IoT connections

    “I suppose you could say we were dating at first,” says Michael Karlsen, CEO and co-founder of Onomondo, as he recalls his company’s first meeting with Danish shipping behemoth A.P. Moller – Maersk in February 2019. He admits that the two companies were an unlikely corporate couple: the small, Copenhagen-based start-up IoT operator Onomondo with less than 20 employees, and the massive, 79,900-strong Maersk with its global fleet of over 700 vessels and 3.5 million containers.   The match was made by the Danish Energy Authority. “They knew we were very interested […]

  • Man with a tattoo pointing at a tablet in a factory

    2020 has shown manufacturers the true value of digital transformation

    At the start of 2020, there were all manner of manufacturing topics to be discussed. And then suddenly, there was only one. It would be difficult to overstate the impact of Covid-19’s disruption on manufacturers. Almost across the board, this industry has seen supply chains breaking, cash ceasing to flow and production lines grinding to […]

Retail

Discover more related articles per dossier:

Customer Stories

  • a view of a city

    Harvesting data helps save water

    With more than 140 years of history, the financial service company Ibercaja is deeply invested in the north-east region of Spain. In order to support its rural clients and solve the local water scarcity problems, the company now helps farmers to digitally transform their crop management. Key to this transformation are “Internet of Things“ enabled […]

Digital Transformation

  • Three floral dresses

    Unlocking AI’s potential to transform fashion

    “I believe that the future of fashion will be all about one-to-one services. Thanks to tools like AI and machine learning, brands will be increasingly able to understand their customers’ preferences and give them exactly what they want.” Orlando Ribas Fernandes is describing his vision for artificial intelligence in fashion. The CEO of retail innovation […]

Security & Privacy

Tips

  • Asian woman looking at a tablet

    Microsoft Cloud for Retail: Connect your customers, people, and data

    Retailers have experienced times of tremendous uncertainty. It’s time to lean into change and thrive by becoming a resilient retailer that drives sustainable profitability and growth. We work closely with our partner ecosystem to offer proven solutions that help retailers in 4 key areas to become resilient and experience sustainable success:  Maximize the value of […]