In a short study by advisory firm EY and the Czech Chamber of Commerce, every second firm considers increased productivity and lower costs to be the greatest benefits of artificial intelligence. Some 76% of companies planning to introduce artificial intelligence tools will invest in them by the end of this year, mainly focusing on computer virtualization and data simulation and analysis. The combination of artificial intelligence and "Big Data" will allow messages to be better customised for specific customers.
Identifying new business opportunities will be one of AI’s main benefits in the future
Every second respondent can see artificial intelligence as a tool to simulate human behavior and decision making (48%). The concept of using artificial intelligence and analysing internal and external data (Big Data) has great potential in interacting with end customers. Machine learning techniques can reveal patterns of behaviour in data that allow sales people to better reach a specific group of customers with a personalized offering of goods and services.
“Businesses get vast amounts of customer behaviour data from a variety of sources such as purchasing statistics, surveys, and online interactions. These data are often inconsistent and very broad, and it’s extremely efficient to use artificial intelligence to process the data, which can then help with sorting, testing and comparing information. The goal of using artificial intelligence in commercial processes is to help set the most effective strategy for specific customers,” says EY Corporate Advisory Services Manager Lenka Vaněk.
The digital transformation in purchasing will help us better answer the question: “How to shop smarter?”
“In the coming years, purchasing departments should play a more strategic role and have greater decision-making powers, as they’re responsible for much of a company’s spending. To achieve this, it is essential to promote new skills to help procurement teams make the most of real-time data, change process settings, and leverage state-of-the-art technologies, including artificial intelligence. And it is through the acquisition and effective use of artificial intelligence, blockchain, advanced analytics and cloud or mobile solutions that the purchasing department can gain a competitive advantage,” says EY Corporate Advisory Services Manager Jana Beniaková.
Investment in artificial intelligence touches on different processes in business, and the benefits of AI can therefore be seen in a variety of areas. The departments that have so far made the greatest use of artificial intelligence are supply chain including purchasing (28%), R&D (17%), sales (13%) and process control department (11%). In the Czech environment, marketing, finance and human resources are areas that have done less to leverage the potential of AI.
Most companies plan to invest in artificial intelligence by the end of the year
More than 60% of respondents are planning to introduce artificial intelligence tools. Most companies planning to invest in the next 5 years intend to allocate more than 10% of total investment costs.
“Although we can already see investments in companies, on average they’re relatively small in Czech industry and represent isolated examples of innovation rather than a general, integrated approach. These investments, with few exceptions, fail to include a view of the auditability and safety of the results that AI is yielding or will yield,” says Petr Knap, Consulting Division Managing Partner at EY CR.
Most plan to invest by the end of 2019 (76% of the companies that intend to introduce AI), or in the next two years. They will want to focus their investment on computer virtualization and simulation (14%), internal data analysis (13%), fully autonomous or collaborative robots (12%) and machine polling (7%).
For a third of companies, the main obstacle is the lack of skilled workers
Czech companies consider the greatest benefit of artificial intelligence to be increased productivity (49%) and reduced costs (30%). Through implementation, companies want to achieve greater production flexibility (19%). One of the biggest obstacles for respondents is the lack of qualified staff (33%). To implement artificial intelligence, respondents mostly use internal human resources or retrain their employees. “Still, such a procedure is not very effective and the associated investment costs may not always pay off, if only because of the departure of qualified staff to the competition. A great opportunity in this respect is, for example, partnerships with academia. It is then up to the State to set up a sufficiently motivating environment not only for entrepreneurs, but also for universities and research institutes,” says Czech Chamber of Commerce Chief Analyst Karina Kubelková.
Companies do not expect an increase in the current number of employees in the next 5 years in connection with artificial intelligence. Rather, they plan to replace employees based on the development of the company’s qualification requirements. At the same time, companies do not anticipate any changes in their field that would alter their business models; they can’t yet assess the need for such change.