AI in EU enterprises: Waiting for the revolution?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been heralded as an integral part of the fourth industrial revolution that will fundamentally change the world of work. However, recent data from Eurostat on the adoption of AI-technologies in European enterprises shows that large share of companies are not using AI-technologies.

Just 8% of EU enterprises where using AI-technologies in 2021, according to data from Eurostat. Denmark recorded the highest share of AI-adoption, but even there the vast majority of enterprises where not using AI-technologies.

It is important to note that the data does not capture in what ways, and at which magnitude, AI-technologies are impacting enterprises. The purpose of the survey conducted by Eurostat is to gather data on in what ways enterprises themselves are adopting AI in their businesses.

The adoption of AI will also be highly dependent on where it can deliver benefits, and at what costs. Lower cost and more "intelligent" AI will likely increase its usage.

The AI-technologies included in the enterprise survey where the following:

  • technologies analysing written language (text mining)
  • technologies converting spoken language into a machine-readable format (speech recognition)
  • technologies generating written or spoken language (natural language generation)
  • technologies identifying objects or people based on images (image recognition, image processing)
  • machine learning (e.g. deep learning) for data analysis
  • technologies automating different workflows or assisting in decision-making (AI based software robotic process automation)
  • technologies enabling machines to physically move by observing their surroundings and taking autonomous decisions

The data shows clear differences between economic activites, with the information and communications sector having the largest AI-adoption rate (25% of enterprises). The lowest levels of adoption where found in construction and transportation and storage (note this data is only for EU-enterprises).

The data from Eurostat also shows that just 4% used two or more of the above technologies, and 2% three or more. Adoption was notably higher in larger enterprises. 28% of large enterprises (defined as having more than 250 employees) used at least one form of AI-technology in 2021.

Among small and medium-size enterprises there are small differences in the usage of different technologies. However, for large enterprises, workflow automation machine learning where the most adopted AI-technologies.

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