Workday, a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for financial and human resources management, released a recent survey examining how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will impact the future of work. The study “Preparing to Power Up: EMEA Leads the Way to an AI-Driven Future” reveals that entrepreneurs know the benefits AI and ML would bring to their companies. However, there is a difference of opinion regarding these all-encompassing technologies inside the boards of directors. The study also highlights how data repositories and bureaucracy represent major barriers to adoption.
48% of business leaders in the EU welcome the opportunities offered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for their companies, compared to 50% in the Americas and 46% in the APJ region. Austria (62%) and the United Kingdom (60%) are the countries where AI and ML are used most enthusiastically, while Norway (40%), Denmark (44%) and Germany (45%) are the least enthusiastic. Additionally, 44% of EMEA companies have made changes to ensure their businesses are agile enough to allow resources to be reallocated quickly and at scale.
The survey also suggests that EMEA business leaders are generally more confident about AI and ML. After introducing the General Data Protection Regulation, the EU is proposing a new legal framework for Artificial Intelligence: the EU AI Act. The aim is to strengthen governance on data quality, transparency and supervisory activity carried out by humans, encouraging greater trust in technology.
A bias is just around the corner
Enthusiasm for AI and ML among EMEA business leaders, supported by regulatory advances, is helping to increase the appetite for investment. Companies from Northern Europe are leading the way in investing in these technologies, while those from Southern Europe have a more conservative approach. Opinions on the adoption of AI and ML by boards of directors vary. While the enthusiasm is high, different offices have different opinions on AI and ML and implementing these technologies. CEOs support Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: 53% of EMEA CEOs are enthusiastic about using these technologies in their companies. However, they are concerned about the potential errors that AI and ML could run into.
Finance teams are more advanced in implementing these technologies into their daily work: 19% of CFOs said their teams are implementing AI and are in the process of advancing at a level nearly triple that of finance teams in the Americas (7%). EMEA finance leaders use AI/ML to improve forecasting, budget decisions and scenario planning and support strategic planning across business lines. HR shows the lowest AI adoption rates, with 44% of EMEA HR leaders excited about the potential but 49% not yet starting to adopt these technologies within their teams.
IT leaders are the most likely (51%) to say that AI and ML will make it easier for IT to support other business teams or enable them to deliver greater strategic value. This indicates a positive cultural shift towards these technologies is occurring in EMEA IT teams.
Data stores and bureaucracy hold businesses back
In addition to different adoption rates, the development of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is also influenced by other issues. The study highlights how data management and excessive bureaucracy pose obstacles for business leaders to embrace and adopt AI and ML fully. 60% of EMEA companies report having siloed data, which complicates accessing information for real-time use. Furthermore, only 22% of companies have made significant progress in eliminating some bureaucratic steps that slow down the decision-making process.
For many organizations, increased use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning requires a significant cultural shift, but for this to happen requires senior management buy-in. Nonetheless, according to the research, 42% of managers in Italy believe that their company managers are not yet aware of the fundamental role that these technologies will play.