Efficiency, competitiveness and opportunity: the benefits AI is already bringing
Europe is on a journey to become a digital-first economy, which will boost its GDP and help it compete on a global stage.
AI is already helping to accelerate this shift, unlocking more innovation and greater productivity in every country and every industry.
“AI powers many of the everyday services and experiences we often take for granted, like voice-to-text transcription, spell-checking and automated translation,” says Adi Morun, Data and AI Lead for Microsoft Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“Large Language Models (LLMs) which process and generate text using prompts are powering innovative services like ChatGPT, Azure OpenAI Service and Microsoft’s new Bing search engine – these ‘co-pilot’ tools will also increasingly be embedded into the software we use at work, to augment our creativity and enable us to be more productive.”
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There are examples in every industry. In manufacturing, the use of predictive maintenance with real-time analytics allows manufacturers to spot problems on the factory floor before they happen – already reducing downtime and increasing productivity.
AI is also assisting retailers to not only keep pace with rapidly changing consumer trends, but to meet evolving customer needs through personalised brand experiences
In finance, AI helps banks, insurers and other financial institutions provide hyper-personalised customer experiences by connecting information from multiple sources simultaneously.
In medicine, AI is reducing the burden of manual tasks for clinical healthcare staff, giving doctors and nurses more time to focus on patient care.
“AI has the power to transform the way that we live and work,” Dr Edward Challis, Head of AI S
strategy and GM for Communications Mining at UiPath. “The technology is changing how companies operate and make decisions. From enhancing customer interactions to understanding vast amounts of structured and unstructured data to uncover valuable insights, many companies are undoubtedly looking at the potential of the technology.”
More fulfilling, creative work
AI has already been improving our productivity for some time, but the current step-change in AI’s capabilities is spotlighting the huge possibilities for everyone and every organisation.
“The rapid advances in AI which are capturing the world’s imagination are transformational, but it’s important to remember that AI has already been in use for years, freeing up time for more creative and fulfilling cognitive work,” says Morun.
“In fact, AI is the ultimate amplifier, fuelling productivity in workplaces, home offices, academic institutions, research labs, and manufacturing facilities around the world, helping everyone from students to doctors, from retailers to software developers, climate experts and security practitioners.”
And all this is particularly important in the context of the need to boost Europe’s long-term productivity growth, and its decreasing working-age population, which is expected to drop by six per cent by 2030.
According to PwC, AI could add 2.6 trillion euros to Europe’s economic output by 2030. If Europe can accelerate the development of its AI competencies and digital innovation capacity, that figure could rise by a further 900 billion euros. Goldman Sachs meanwhile suggests that an AI-driven productivity boom could raise annual global gross domestic product by seven per cent over a 10-year period.
By 2026, according to the International Data Corporation, 85 per cent of enterprises will combine human expertise with AI, machine learning, natural language processing, and pattern recognition for better forecasts across the organisation, making workers 25 per cent more productive and effective.
“What’s so exciting is how the step-change we’re seeing now is creating huge possibilities for every person and every organisation – this is vital for Europe’s journey to becoming a digital-first economy,” says Morun.
AI in today’s world
Romanian company FintechOS operates globally, focusing on speed, personalisation, and ecosystem integration to empower businesses to achieve rapid innovation and deliver exceptional and innovative modernisation outcomes. The fintech enablement platform makes use of data, analytics and new technologies like generative AI to enable clients to transform existing financial product lines and launch new differentiated offerings.
“If customer onboarding or servicing requires too much effort, organisations risk losing customers and revenue,” says Márcio Spínola, Chief Product Officer at FintechOS.
“We have successfully delivered AI-powered solutions, such as launching new products or servicing existing ones, to more than 50 customers globally thanks to Azure’s integrated AI capabilities”, Spínola says.
Czech start-up Zásilkovna uses AI and smart robots to improve logistics and warehouse processes. “When we started working with them in the start-up phase, they were delivering around 40,000 packages a day; now, they’re delivering over one million,” says Microsoft’s Morun.
Microsoft also recently launched a project in Czechia and Slovakia called Digital Hospital, which highlights 98 solutions across thirty partners to show healthcare organisations, public and private, what AI and cloud technology can do to drive better patient or customer outcomes, work experiences for medical practitioners, and optimised healthcare processes.
One of these solutions is Aireen, an AI-based diagnostic helping protect the sight of people with diabetes and providing early detection of retinopathy by using AI. In less than 30 seconds, it provides high-sensitivity, detailed insights into the diagnostic output based on over one million images. This helps eye care clinics to offer a better product, better customer services, and ultimately better brand experience.
And there’s more to come. “AI is a defining technology of our time in terms of what it can do for people and organisations,” Morun adds.
“The pace of innovation is accelerating, and AI has the potential to shape stronger, more sustainable societies and transform every sector including manufacturing, financial services, healthcare and energy. What’s so exciting is how the step-change we’re seeing now is creating huge possibilities for every person and every organisation – this is vital for Europe’s journey to becoming a digital-first economy.”
The use of AI nevertheless poses a challenge for both competition authorities and legislators. This problem is already partially addressed by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), enforced by the European Commission since May 2023. According to PwC, which itself announced investment worth one billion US dollars earlier this year to expand and scale its AI offering, this regulation establishes strictly defined objective criteria for qualifying a large online platform as a ‘gatekeeper’, such as controlling access to information and services.
The responsibilities for those who develop the technology are bigger still: together, they must ensure that AI is built and used responsibly and ethically, that it advances international competitiveness and national security, and that it serves society broadly, not narrowly – so that everyone can reap the benefits.
“AI is already inseparable from our professional life and it’s time to set the basic rules for using it,” says Olga Belyakova, Partner, Co-head of Technology, Media and Communications CEE at CMS. “The first attempt in the EU was undertaken by the European Parliament on June 14 by approving its negotiating position on the proposed Artificial Intelligence Act. But even before that lawyers already negotiated contractual clauses about the extent to which the parties may use AI tools in their business relations.”
“AI systems have to be developed in a way that ensures they will function as intended and be used in ways that earn trust. At Microsoft our work is guided by a core set of principles: fairness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability – principles we want to see applied by any organisation developing or working with AI,” adds Morun.
“Our goal is to democratise AI and machine learning so everyone can develop, use, and benefit from AI innovation. And this innovation is founded on a commitment to responsible AI.”
“As long as organisations use AI in an open, flexible, and responsible manner, it can empower businesses to remain competitive in today’s fast paced, data-driven world,” concludes UiPath’s Dr Challis.
“As the technology becomes more and more accessible to businesses and consumers alike, its everyday use will only continue to grow, opening new opportunities and redefining how we work and how we interact with the services we use in our day-to-day lives.”
This article is part of Digital Future of CEE, a regional discussion series, powered by Emerging Europe, Microsoft and PwC.
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