How AI can help Europe address its key priorities  

How AI can help Europe address its key priorities  

AI is not new – we already use and experience it every day. We use AI in analyzing business information at the office, in the lab doing research, at home while gaming or when selecting the next movie to watch on a streaming service, and in so much more. Microsoft has been working on AI research and development for over three decades. It’s widely embedded in our products and services, powering familiar features we take for granted such as voice-to-text or auto translation. But the arrival of new generative AI applications, including Copilot and ChatGPT, has truly brought the technology into the limelight.

AI is projected to boost the economic output of European organizations and entrepreneurs by €2.7 trillion, or 20%, by 2030. Accelerating growth in AI skills and digital innovation to match levels similar to the U.S. could potentially generate an additional €900 billion. Recognizing the magnitude of this opportunity, the EU aims for 75% of businesses across the region to utilize AI, cloud, and big data solutions by the decade’s end.

Europe envisions a sustainable, productive, and prosperous future for all. Cloud and AI are crucial in this transformation, unlocking new opportunities and progress. As the world’s largest exporter of manufactured goods and service and top trading partner for 80 countries, the EU is deeply integrated into the global economy. Harnessing AI can amplify these strengths, fostering innovation, competitiveness, and growth in an increasingly digital world.

AI offers boundless opportunities, revolutionizing industries and addressing challenges across healthcare, retail, manufacturing, financial services, and sustainability. Here in Europe, we see many great examples. Lithuania has a National AI strategy, seeking to improve economic growth and competitiveness for the benefit of all. Estonia’s Bürokratt is the world’s first public service AI-based virtual assistant, helping citizens use digitized government services. Agricloud, a Romania-based startup develops smart agriculture solutions. Using drones and sensors placed at soil level, it collects data which is stored in the cloud and analyzed using AI, meaning farmers can better monitor and manage their crops. Česká Spořitelna bank has set a goal to increase employee productivity by 30% within two years with the help of Copilot. Furthermore, MOL Group in Hungary has built its nation-wide circular economy and centralized waste management system.In Poland, Zabka Nano stores use Smart Store Analytics to take shopping convenience to the next level. A seamless walk in, walk out approach to food shopping, with no checkout lines, clerks, or cash, 24/7.

Across the globe, leading companies are leveraging Microsoft AI tools to redefine customer experiences and operational paradigms. From Mercedes-Benz’s Virtual Assistant revolutionizing customer service to Ecolab’s sustainability initiatives driven by AI insights, the spectrum of AI applications is vast and transformative. Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company’s success in scaling operations while reducing costs exemplifies AI’s capacity to drive efficiency and innovation simultaneously. Microsoft’s partnership with Belgian pharmaceutical group UCB, for example, is enabling its scientists to discover new medicines more efficiently.

By automating tasks and acting as our ‘copilot’, AI will free us to focus on more valuable activities to achieve more. This could boost global gross domestic product by 7% over a decade and help offset Europe’s expected 14.8 million, or 6% decline in working-age population by 2030.

According to the recent Work Trend Index, 75% of global knowledge workers use AI, many adopting it in the last six months. While employees find AI boosts productivity and creativity, they often bring their own tools due to a lack of organizational support, raising data security concerns.

To seize the AI opportunity, we must foster a thriving ecosystem and make it affordable and accessible for all organizations. An open and competitive AI market is essential. The full value of artificial intelligence will be realized by integrating it across the economy and developing applications. This depends on leaders prioritizing and communicating an AI strategy for their company while encouraging experimentation and engagement at every level of the organization.

Given the role AI will play in our lives, AI-empowered innovation must be balanced with efforts to mitigate risks and misuse, such as misinformation and deep fakes or related to privacy and intellectual property, as well as environmental concerns. Microsoft takes this seriously, designing AI responsibly, exceeding privacy laws with the highest security standards, to keep users safe.

Generative AI is a unique and powerful technology that can create new possibilities in various sectors, enhancing business value, especially in fields like employee experience, customer engagement, internal business processes, and innovation. By applying AI’s abilities, we can support strategic decision-making, improve operations, and boost growth. Organizations that take a thoughtful approach to AI adoption will lead the way in this new era, driving innovation and maintaining a competitive edge.

To learn more, visit the The Official Microsoft Blog 1 and The Official Microsoft Blog 2.

Author: Michelle Simmons, President, Microsoft Central Europe and Central Asia

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