Europe lags behind the US in integrating AI technologies into business

Obstacles include staff shortages and stringent data protection requirements

Europe has every chance of becoming the world leader in the artificial intelligence (AI) technology market. This can happen, among other things, due to the rapid digital transformation, a strong consumer and research base.

and support from private and public structures. However, now the region still lags behind the US and China, where IT giants such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are based. Such data are provided in the report The Global AI Agenda: Europe of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT).

The document became part of The Global AI Agenda report, which includes the results of a survey of 1004 senior and middle managers from Asia, Europe, Latin and North America, the Middle East and Africa. Respondents come from companies operating in areas such as information technology and telecommunications, consumer goods and retail.

financial services, pharmaceuticals and healthcare. More than half of these organizations (55%) have annual revenues of $1 billion or more, and 32% of them have revenues of $5 billion or more. The report also interviewed AI experts from Emirates Group, Vodafone, Walmart, Bank of Singapore and others.

Benefits of using technology in business

European companies have been actively integrating AI technologies into their operations over the past four years. If in 2017 such solutions were used in 58% of large companies, then in 2019 – more than 90%. The majority of organizations (92%), according to the results of the MIT survey.

managed to return the investment in the expected amount or more. More than half of respondents believe that the implementation of AI technologies can improve operational efficiency and reduce costs, as well as improve customer experience. Technology has a positive impact on the process of making management decisions (42% of respondents agreed with this) and risk management (41%), helping to quickly enter the market (39%) and increase revenue (23%).

Healthcare remains the most developed area of ​​AI application in Europe. Technological solutions are integrated into their activities by large pharmaceutical companies. There are also a growing number of start-ups specializing in the provision of telemedicine services in the region.

The leaders in the implementation of AI in production processes are Germany, France and the UK. This is evidenced by the data of the research organization Capgemini Research Institute, which is part of the structure of the international consulting company Capgemini. So, one of the directions in the field of AI is used in the French food company Danone.

They use machine learning to predict consumer demand. UK-based online grocery store Ocado is using AI algorithms to manage logistics, fight fraud and personalize ads. In general, as noted in Capgemini, artificial intelligence is involved in the work of more than half of European companies. This is significantly more than in the US (28%) and China (11%).

Forecasts for the future

In the next three years, more than three-quarters of MIT survey participants (76%) intend to use “smart” technologies for support and customer service. “Customer service is expensive,” explains Adi Chhabra, head of innovation at British telecommunications company Vodafone. “Integrating AI technology into the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) eliminates these costs and enables faster resolution of customer issues.”

Respondents plan to automate processes in the field of IT management (65% of respondents reported this), sales and marketing (53%), research and development (42%), finance (31%), logistics and supply chains (30%).  In 2022, 44% of respondents will use them, compared to 14% in 2019. Already, companies such as Netflix, Uber and Booking are using the Harder platform developed by the Dutch startup, which is designed to select candidates for certain positions.

What prevents the integration of AI

One of the obstacles to the active use of AI technologies is the lack of qualified personnel. This problem was discussed in the consulting company EY back in 2018. A survey conducted among 200 representatives of European companies showed that almost half of them lack specialists with skills in the field of cybersecurity, AI and robotics.

According to experts from MIT, this is amazing. After all, it is in Europe that one of the largest non-profit organizations in this field is located – the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. In addition, Oxford and Cambridge Universities are located here, with the support of which technology companies such as DeepMind (develops algorithms for various applications.

owned by Google), Vocalic (smart voice assistants, owned by Apple) and SwiftKey (virtual keyboard, owned by Microsoft). In addition, the development of AI technologies is actively supported by the EU authorities. Only in the period from 2018 to 2020, within the framework of the Horizon 2020 program, the amount of funding for this sector will amount to €1.5 billion. The program has been implemented since 2014 and is aimed at developing scientific research and technology.

Another problem is the drain of specialists. According to the consulting company McKinsey, 32% of developers from Europe move to the US. At the same time, 16% of specialists are sent to work from the USA to Europe, mainly to the UK.  Among them: insufficient quantity and poor quality of data, high cost, low level of understanding of technology among managers, regulatory requirements and security issues, lack of knowledge of how to integrate technology into business processes.

At the same time, 59% of respondents are confident that the exchange of data between companies from related fields will contribute to the creation of more innovative products and improve the supply chain, 45% believe that such interaction will improve the quality of services, and 39% are convinced that thanks to it it will be possible to create new businesses. models. Another 32% of respondents noted that the exchange of data will prevent fraud.

In general, European respondents are more cautious when sharing data than their counterparts in other regions. This is less than in Latin America (80%), North America (75%) and Asia-Pacific (64%).

How the European Union and national governments address the issue of openness and privacy will be a key factor in the development of AI on the continent in the coming years,” the report notes.

And what about in Russia?

“Artificial intelligence is a fairly wide range of technologies, and the lion’s share of Russian companies use them to one degree or another,” says Arseniy Poyarkov, economist and president of the BusinessDrom analytical agency. — These are both robotic call centers and chat bots, which are quite actively used by banks. AI technologies are also actively used in research laboratories: algorithms combine data and suggest which method to use.”