eco
03.02.2020

New eco Study Investigates Economic Potential of Artificial Intelligence: Strong Growth Forecast by 2025

  • Chance for Europe: Study shows potential of AI in Germany alone to generate approx. 488 billion Euros in 2025
  • eco recommends that companies across the board should promptly introduce AI
  • Alongside targeted research and development, politics must also support high-speed and sovereign digital infrastructures, as well as societal acceptance for AI

Technologies and applications based on artificial intelligence (AI) have an enormous economic potential. A joint study published today by eco – Association of the Internet Industry and Arthur D. Little and supported by the Vodafone Foundation, examines for the first time – on the basis of 150 examined use cases – what specific effects AI can be expected to bring for companies in Germany. The finding: If AI is implemented across the board in Germany, GDP growth of over 13 percent is realistic by 2025 (in comparison to 2019) – a result which, extrapolated out to the European context, vividly portrays the economic potential of this technology.

For the German context, this corresponds to an overall potential of approx. 488 billion Euros. Of this, around 330 billion Euros (70%) will result from cost savings, and approx. 150 billion Euros (30%) from revenue potential across all sectors. The sectors Retail & Consumer and Energy, Environment & Chemicals will experience the greatest benefit, with each reaching just under 100 billion Euros. The authors see particularly large opportunities for Industry 4.0: At a little over 50 percent (182.5 billion Euros), the largest cost savings can be achieved through AI support for manufacturing.

In order to fully harness the enormous potential of artificial intelligence, the association recommends that European companies act quickly and examine possible AI use scenarios for their needs:

“We have observed that companies in Germany have so far been very reluctant to use AI technologies. Further hesitation and delays in the use of AI in company processes is something that Germany and Europe as an economic location can no longer afford,” says eco Chair of the Board Oliver J. Süme. “In international competition, we now need to move forward with open minds and a sense of adventure – both on the part of the Internet industry and the user industries – and implement AI in our key economic industries. Only in this way will we benefit as quickly as possible from the use of this technology, and generate new business models on the basis of our experiences,” Süme continues.

For the successful introduction of AI technologies, European industry also requires political momentum, according to eco. Withregard to the EU Commission White Paper on AI, which is due to be published in mid-February, eco also warns against overly excessive and strict ex-ante regulations for AI technologies. Regulatory provisions that are too complex could deter companies from implementing AI technologies into their business processes and in this way stifle innovation.

“We need a holistic approach that, alongside targeted research and development, also supports high-speed and sovereign digital infrastructures and societal acceptance for AI. So that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can also use AI optimally and in a sovereign manner, SMEs require especial support,” urges Oliver J. Süme. Lars Riegel, AI expert at the international consultancy Arthur D. Little and co-author of the study, sees German tech companies as lagging behind their Chinese and American competitors. In these countries, billions flow into R&D budgets for the development of AI solutions, platforms, and components. European companies can tap into these developments to successfully position themselves as providers of AI capabilities as a service (AIaas) – for example, in the environment of the German core industries like the automotive industry or mechanical engineering. “We are optimistic that German companies in these sectors will become leaders in the mid-term. The initial challenge is to transfer the deep domain-relevant knowledge into AI capabilities. But for this to happen, there needs first to be a sharpened internal understanding as to what an AI capability is and what AI positioning is. Then it will be possible to take the international platforms as a basis and build on them.”

Inger Paus, Managing Director of the Vodafone Institute, sees particular need for action on the topic of acceptance and open-mindedness with regard to new technologies: “The economic and business potential of artificial intelligence is enormous – but we also need to leverage it. In international comparison, Germans are particularly skeptical about automation and algorithms. It is worrying that AI is still not on the agenda for most German companies – especially when it comes to SMEs.”

eco delivers an important building block for the support of AI in SMEs with the project Service-Meister, for which eco was a top prize-winner in the German federal government’s AI Innovation Competition. The objective of Service-Meister is to make the necessary service knowledge regarding industrial plants available in a scalable fashion with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). The service platform, which functions across plants, departments, and companies, is especially customized to the challenges of SMEs.

The results of the AI study at a glance:

  • If AI is implemented across the board in Germany, GDP growth of over 13 percent is realistic by 2025 (in comparison to 2019).
  • This corresponds to an overall potential of approx. 488 billion Euros (with an annual growth rate of approx. 34%). Of this, around 330 billion Euros (70%) will result from cost savings, and approx. 150 billion Euros (30%) from revenue potential across all sectors.
  • Industry 4.0: At a little over 50 percent (182.5 billion Euros), the largest cost savings can be achieved through AI support for manufacturing.
  • Significant impact expected for the sectors Retail & Consumer and Energy, Environment & Chemicals, with each reaching just under 100 billion Euros.

The study can be requested at international.eco.de/artificial-intelligence-its-potential-and-the-lasting-transformation-of-the-german-economy 

Find eco’s AI Recommendations for action for future-oriented politics at international.eco.de/wp-content/uploads//2020/01/eco-ai-recommendations-for-action-for-future-oriented-politics.pdf

Further information on Service-Meister

Neue eco Studie untersucht Wirtschaftspotenziale von Künstlicher Intelligenz: 13 Prozent höheres BIP bis 2025 möglich

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