Three out of four Flemish companies still make no use of AI

14 June 2023
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According to a recent poll conducted by VLAIO, the majority of Flemish organizations are not utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Surprisingly, most of these companies do not have any plans to change this situation in the near future. This is rather concerning, considering Flanders' reputation as a knowledge-based economy. By neglecting the AI revolution, we risk long-term economic and societal consequences. We will explore the potential impact on our economy and society, and examine the reasons behind this conservative approach to digital innovation, with a particular focus on AI.

The Knowledge Gap

There is not necessarily an unwillingness to investigate the possibilities of AI in Flanders but there is a clear elephant in the room… knowledge. Many organizations struggle to gather the necessary expertise, skills, and knowledge required to embark on their own AI journey. This not only includes technical expertise but also understanding the technology at a high-level from a business perspective. Without a grasp of the technology, making informed decisions and investments becomes challenging, especially considering the potentially high costs associated with AI implementation.

Also the experience and knowledge of the end-users often get overlooked in the innovation process. If users lack the necessary skills to operate AI tools, projects can fail before they even begin. Additionally, organizations must address the digital skills gap among their aging workforce and ensure their colleagues are open to changing their ways of working to accommodate AI-driven solutions.

Legal, Ethical, and Value Considerations of AI

Implementing AI also raises legal and ethical concerns, as well as questions regarding the actual value of AI solutions. Companies must carefully evaluate the return on investment and select the appropriate tools for their specific use cases. With numerous AI tools available, making the right choice can be daunting. Furthermore, even when AI solutions are developed, they often remain in a test-mode and are not utilized in production, highlighting the persistent challenges in scaling and maximizing the usability of AI.

Despite the challenges, the same study indicates that AI has a positive impact on the competitiveness of Flemish companies. It enables process automation, improves process quality, enhances services and products, and reduces costs. Additionally, there is an overall positive impact on employment rates, dispelling some of the traditional fears surrounding AI and job displacement. Considering these benefits, it becomes crucial to make informed choices regarding AI adoption. Knowing all of this, how do you make the right choice?

Addressing the Knowledge Gap

The core of our story reverts back to one major item: knowledge. How do we make sure that our organizations have all expertise they need? Access to knowledge is not a problem, as the internet offers a wealth of sources, open-source tools, examples, and use cases related to AI. What organizations truly need are guides who can provide expertise at every level and across different branches of the organization. By training the entire organization, decision-makers, technical experts, and end-users can align their understanding and foster an innovative environment that encourages exploration of AI possibilities and facilitates necessary changes in working methods.

When all colleagues possess the required knowledge, the need for governance becomes evident. Establishing the right governance frameworks allows organizations to harness the potential of data and AI while mitigating risks associated with the technology. By implementing appropriate governance measures, organizations can alleviate traditional fears and concerns related to AI.

Interested to see what AI can do for your company?

At Datashift, we offer expertise on AI, and we are ready to support companies in their AI journey and governance needs. Curious what we can do for you? Don’t hesitate to reach out!