Top executives in major Dutch companies are voicing apprehension regarding the swift expansion of artificial intelligence (AI) within the business sphere, according to a recent study conducted by ING and published on Thursday. The study, which surveyed over 200 senior managers, indicates that a significant 85 percent of them anticipate that AI will exert a “strong to very strong impact” on various aspects of business operations. Notably, this concern points to substantial changes expected in IT departments, customer service, and production, with only a small minority of executives, at 6 percent, foreseeing AI leading to job losses.
A substantial 68 percent of respondents anticipate significant changes in IT departments, where AI is expected to play a pivotal role in streamlining processes, improving efficiency, and fostering innovation in the realm of information technology.
Nearly half of the surveyed executives, accounting for 41 percent, foresee notable transformations in customer service. AI-powered chatbots, virtual assistants, and predictive analytics are expected to revolutionize how companies interact with their customers, offering personalized experiences and more efficient issue resolution.
The study also highlights that 34 percent of executives anticipate AI-driven changes in production processes. Automation and smart manufacturing solutions are predicted to optimize production efficiency, reduce costs, and enable more flexible and responsive production cycles.
Shift in priorities towards AI and business growth
A noteworthy shift in corporate priorities is evident, with a distinct focus on the impact of AI and business growth. This shift marks a transition from last year’s predominant concerns related to high inflation and monetary policy. According to Mark Milders, Head of Wholesale Banking at ING Netherlands, companies appear to have found a more stable footing after the post-Covid period characterized by volatility, high inflation, and stagnation. They are now looking ahead and prioritizing strategic topics.
Emphasis on innovation
The study further underscores the growing emphasis on innovation within Dutch corporations, with a clear intent to innovate more rapidly than before. A substantial 86 percent of respondents expressed their commitment to accelerating innovation within their organizations. This represents a significant increase from the 74 percent recorded in the previous year.
Driving Innovation through Investments
To achieve their innovation goals, companies are ramping up investments in research and development (R&D). These investments are perceived as critical to maintaining a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving business landscape.
Advancements in AI and cybersecurity technologies are poised to play central roles in the innovation strategies of Dutch companies. The adoption of AI for data security and threat detection is considered essential for modern business resilience.
Despite ongoing international conflicts and geopolitical tensions, a majority of executives, at 85 percent, remain optimistic about the outlook for 2024. This optimism marks an increase from the 81 percent who held positive views at the end of 2022. However, it is crucial to note that these executives also share concerns about escalating geopolitical tensions potentially disrupting supply chains and posing risks to the safety of their workforce.
The findings of the ING study shed light on the growing concerns and evolving priorities of Dutch top executives. AI is rapidly emerging as a transformative force within Dutch corporations, with executives anticipating significant changes in IT, customer service, and production processes. Embracing innovation is now at the forefront of corporate strategy, with R&D investments and AI technologies driving transformation. While optimism prevails for 2024, geopolitical tensions remain a potential disruptor, urging companies to navigate an uncertain global environment with vigilance. Dutch businesses are at a critical juncture, poised to harness the potential of AI while addressing the challenges posed by geopolitical uncertainties.