Danish companies believe AI holds major productivity gains


The use of artificial intelligence may boost productivity by more than ten per cent in the next five years, say Danish companies in a new study. 

The Danish business sector has become aware of artificial intelligence (AI) being a path to significantly increasing productivity. This is the finding of a new study carried out in November 2023 by the consulting company COWI. 50 Danish companies participated in the study, which maps Danish businesses’ perspectives on AI and their approach to implementing AI in their operations. Half of the participants are major companies with more than 500 employees, and the other half includes medium-sized companies with 200 to 500 employees. 

According to the study, 63 per cent of the major companies expect to boost productivity by more than ten per cent in the next five years – solely by investing in AI technology. In comparison, data from Statistics Denmark reveals that, from 2016 to 2021, Danish companies increased their productivity by nine per cent when adding up all their efforts to increase productivity. 

A previous calculation by COWI stated that the industry would have to invest 195,000 man-years towards 2035 to realise Denmark's green ambitions. We're already seeing a labour shortage, and this study shows that Danish businesses have become aware of how AI can increase their productivity and thereby help solve a major problem for our society.
Marius Weydahl Berg Chief Business Development Officer in COWI

The study points to data analysis as the area where AI is expected to create the most value. Sixty per cent of the companies believe that data analysis is where AI holds the biggest potential for creating value in their work processes.

Despite keen interest in and high expectations for AI, the companies expect there to be challenges to implementing the technology. The main barrier is their lack of AI expertise and knowledge. This stresses the need for investing in training and development of internal resources to ensure a successful implementation of AI. 

"If Danish companies want to realise the full potential of AI, the first step is to get their employees involved and encourage them to explore this new technology," says Marius Weydahl Berg. "We can see from the study that the companies that are excited about the potential of AI are also highly aware of the challenges on the way towards realising this potential. Experience and hands-on training are the key to utilising the potential of AI in the optimum manner." 

Cultural change and management support are also needed in the companies to ensure a smooth transition to AI-based solutions, according to the study. Major companies express concern about the resistance to change and organisational culture, whereas medium-sized companies worry more about data security and privacy protection. 

AI is already starting to create significant results in Danish companies. We can see how it gains ground in many corners of the organisations, not merely boosting productivity but also improving the quality of products and services. This is only the tip of the iceberg. So, when the study shows that Danish companies believe they will see a ten-percent increase in productivity, that's a slightly conservative assessment, in my opinion. I believe the potential is far greater if we take the right steps – both in companies and politically.
Mette Kaagaard General Manager/CEO of Microsoft Denmark

The findings of the study will be presented on 6 December 2023 at the first-ever /imagine Futures event, which will be held at Microsoft Denmark, which co-hosts the event with COWI. This year’s theme is AI. 

/imagine Futures will be held twice a year, each time with a new theme that is based on a megatrend. The initiative was developed in cooperation between Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies and COWI.

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Martin Bernth
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