2024 is the year AI at work gets real

How AI creates business value in employee experience, customer engagement, internal business processes, and innovation

Just a year ago, Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) burst onto scene, fundamentally changing how we interact with technology for the first time since smartphones. It is impressive to see how AI creates business value, especially in areas like employee experience, customer engagement, internal business processes, and innovation. The emergence of new technologies and tools like Gen AI, including Copilots, amplifies this value exponentially.

The recent PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study revealed that almost half of the economic benefits expected by 2030 will result from improving products and encouraging consumer interest.  AI could contribute up to 9,9 % of the GDP of North Europe and 11,5% of South Europe by 2030.

Throughout history, the impact of technology has depended on how well it’s been managed. International cooperation is crucial for technologies that affect everyone, that is why we’re excited to share Global Governance: Goals and Lessons for AI, a collection that explores global AI governance, drawing on insights from various international institutions and proposing our own goals and frameworks. As we enter a new digital decade, AI offers boundless opportunities, revolutionizing industries and addressing challenges across healthcare, retail, manufacturing, financial services, and sustainability

Here in Southeast Europe, we can already see many great examples of AI creating business value. The governments of Albania and Greece are leveraging AI-powered assistants that provide swift and efficient access to public service information. The Serbian Chamber of Commerce has introduced BizChat – a digital service based on artificial intelligence and the first one in Europe aimed at the business community. Laqo insurance in Croatia has integrated AI to become the first digital insurer in the country, while in Slovenia, an insurance company Zavarovalnica Triglav modernized its customer service by AI-driven automation. IKEA in Bulgaria has introduced “Sofia” an AI assistant that elevates the shopping experience.

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.

From employees’ perspective, AI raises career prospects. The recent Work Trend Index, highlights a shortage of skilled talent and significant opportunities for those who learn AI skills. Although 66% of leaders won’t hire without AI skills, only 39% of employees receive AI training from their company, and just 25% of companies plan to offer it this year. As a result, professionals are skilling up on their own.

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.

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.

To conclude, the true power of AI extends beyond automation. By embracing AI, organizations can unlock insights that drive innovation, optimize operations, and fuel growth. AI is unlike any technology we’ve seen before. Organizations that take a thoughtful approach will lead the way in this transformative era.

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

Author: Kristina Tikhonova, Microsoft General Manager for South-East Europe

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