Artificial Intelligence Held Back in Europe by Lack of Strategic Focus
- New survey findings show a clear understanding of the potential functional benefits of AI – plus high and accelerating adoption
- Despite this, only 25 percent of European companies interviewed see AI as strategically important, and just 11 percent have an AI strategy in place today
- Involvement of board-level executives in AI planning is high, but has not yet translated into widespread strategic initiatives – companies therefore risk missing out on strategic benefits
- Manufacturing firms in particular see the potential for predictive maintenance leading to smoother operations, greater adaptability of production and higher efficiency arising from automation as the major benefits of AI
Fujitsu uncovered a surprising lack of strategic focus for AI, working together with analyst firm Pierre Audoin Consultants1
(PAC) to take the pulse of senior business and IT decision makers in 240 companies across Europe2
from sectors including automotive, manufacturing, and retail. The lack of strategic focus for AI projects is despite an unambiguous understanding of the benefits of AI at a functional level, increasing levels of adoption and the widespread involvement of board-level executives in planning for AI adoption. Nevertheless, only one in four companies interviewed saw AI as strategically important and just 11 percent had an AI strategy in place.
Among manufacturing companies, the greatest potential from AI adoption is perceived to be predictive maintenance, rated as possessing ‘great value’ by 75 percent of respondents. The report ascribes this to the importance of on-time production or delivery of ordered products for smooth shop floor operations, with predictions based on the analysis and use of algorithms on a machine’s runtime data. Also rated as having great value is the ability to increase the adaptability of manufacturing processes to new products (70 percent of the relevant sample) and to improve production efficiency through the automation of AI-supported manufacturing (60 percent).
Most respondents agree on the value of AI in providing a better understanding of the customer within Sales and Marketing, the detection and prevention of fraud in Finance and Accounting, the automation of supply chain planning and fulfilment in Supply Chain Management, delivering improvements to cyber-security in IT and enhancing predictive maintenance in Production departments.
Other than legal and compliance issues, the greatest inhibitors to the adoption of AI are considered to be the lack of availability of AI within solutions (61 percent see this as a major obstacle) and internal culture and processes acting as a significant brake on adoption (52 percent). However, further evidence of strong demand for AI applications comes from the finding that three in five respondents are frustrated by the speed at which AI is being incorporated within IT solutions.
Dr David Snelling, Fujitsu Distinguished Engineer and Program Director Artificial Intelligence, CTO Office at Fujitsu EMEIA, says: “It looks as if AI is currently being driven by functional needs, with a clear understanding of the benefits on offer and initiatives well underway across Europe. However, from Fujitsu’s perspective, the apparent lack of a strategic framework for AI is surprising and points to a need for board-level executives to be more engaged in the discussion to unlock the full potential of this disruptive technology. We believe there is currently an over-emphasis on optimisation, which is driven by a need to prove that AI is leading to better business outcomes. By failing to take a strategic approach, changing internal culture and removing bottlenecks, companies are missing out on opportunities to deploy game-changing apps that radically improve the customer experience and can drive a new paradigm of exciting business opportunities.”
Almost half the companies surveyed already have an AI implementation in place. Within the next two years, 70 percent of the firms will have equipped their existing business applications with AI technology. Readiness to adopt appears to be driven by a uniform clear-sightedness related to the functional value on offer from investments in AI. For example, nearly 80 percent of respondents anticipate high value from automation of workflows to drive lower levels of human interaction, 73 percent think this will lead to faster completion of business processes and 72 percent predict more and better recommendations for action, such as predictive maintenance or new products or services, as a result.
Further survey findings:
- When asked what competencies are required from business application providers to incorporate AI technologies, key requirements include the importance of choosing a supplier that understands the innovative potential of AI and which has solid, relevant use-case examples.
- Fewer companies in Italy and Spain (17 percent versus an average of 22 percent across Europe) see AI as strategically important, suggesting greater wariness in Southern Europe about this technology.
- The DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) is slower to implement AI than other regions, with just 10 percent already using AI tools and technologies.
- At the other end of the spectrum, the Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden and Finland) are the most enthusiastic about AI, with 17 percent already having an AI strategy in place, while companies in the UK are the most likely to see AI as strategically important (33 percent versus an average across Europe of 25 percent).
- Manufacturing companies anticipate the greatest benefits from AI to be a reduction in human error (cited by 60 percent), minimising human interaction (51 percent) and reducing manual processes (43 percent).
- In the Services, Trade and Transport sectors, respondents are more likely to have an AI strategy in place (15 percent) and to be more willing (25 percent) to look outside their organisations for skills and insight than other sectors.
Notes to editors
1 Founded in 1976, Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) is the leading independent European research and consulting firm for the software, IT services and digital transformation industry. CXP Group offers its customers comprehensive support services for the evaluation, selection and optimisation of their software solutions and for the evaluation and selection of IT services providers, and accompanies them in optimising their sourcing and investment strategies. Find out more at www.pac-online.com.
2 For the study “What AI can do for business applications”, PAC interviewed senior business and IT decision makers from 240 companies with more than 1,000 employees in the DACH region (Austria, Switzerland, Germany), France, the UK, Italy, Spain, as well as in Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark) from sectors including manufacturing, services, trade and transport.
Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company, offering a full range of technology products, solutions, and services. Approximately 140,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.1 trillion yen (US $39 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018. For more information, please see http://www.fujitsu.com.
About Fujitsu UK and Ireland
Fujitsu UK & Ireland employs over 9,000 people. We promote a Human Centric Intelligent Society, in which innovation is driven by the integration of people, information and infrastructure. We are committed to Digital Co-creation, blending business expertise with digital technology and creating new value with ecosystem partners and customers. We enable our customers to digitally transform with connected technology services, focused on Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Cloud - all underpinned by Security. Our customers cover both the public and private sectors, including retail, financial services, transport, manufacturing, government and defence. For more information please see http://uk.fujitsu.com
Date: 09 May, 2018