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Polish Manufacturers Embrace AI

TECHNOLOGYPolish Manufacturers Embrace AI

Companies involved in industrial production are increasingly bold in implementing artificial intelligence (AI) to harness its transformative potential. According to EY’s CEO Outlook Survey, 45% of CEOs in the manufacturing sector view this technology as a driving force that can positively impact business efficiency and innovation. Already, nearly half (49%) of enterprises in this sector are actively investing in AI-based solutions. Manufacturers in Poland show similar levels of activity. EY’s survey – How Polish Companies Implement AI – reveals that 21% of respondents in the manufacturing industry have completed implementation, while a further 41% are in the process.

While manufacturing companies have long been using well-known AI solutions such as machine learning (ML), the proliferation of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) enhances the technology’s capabilities and influences many organizations’ development plans. According to an EY global survey, already 49% of respondents involved in advanced manufacturing are actively funding AI innovations, with a further 41% planning to do so within the year. This means that only 10% of organizations are not planning to develop based on AI for the time being.

Against this background, Polish companies fare well in terms of the level of new technology implementation. EY’s survey – How Polish Companies Implement AI – shows that one in five medium and large manufacturing companies (21%) are already using this solution internally, with another 41% in the process of implementing it. Only 9% of respondents do not plan to undertake any AI-related activities within the next two years. Interestingly, half (51%) of manufacturing companies that have implemented or are in the process of implementing AI tools are new users of AI-based solutions, having used them for a maximum of 2 years. This means that they may not necessarily have implemented their own solutions but have used those that were widely available. A large group in this cohort of organizations (39%) are respondents who have actively been using AI technology for 2 to 5 years, while 7% of companies are pioneers, basing their operations on it for 5 to 10 years.

First Cybersecurity, then AI

To safely and fully implement artificial intelligence-based solutions, the manufacturing sector must first address its digital resilience. Main pain points in the process of AI development in companies are issues related to privacy and data management. Organizations lacking the necessary skills often delay the implementation of modern technologies. One in five (20%) respondents from the manufacturing sector in Poland stated that concerns about security, including data security, were a significant barrier to deciding to implement AI solutions.

Patryk Gęborys, a partner at EY, stated that, “Investment in improving the level of security is crucial for the transformation process in the manufacturing sector. Along with the growth in the digitization level and the complexity of production systems, and generating larger and larger amounts of data, susceptibility to attacks increases.”

The new NIS2 directive, which came into force on October 18, may prompt manufacturing companies to improve their cyber-security practices. The directive stipulates that one in three companies (32%) will not increase their cyber security budget despite increased needs.

Look to the Supply Chains and Labor Shortage

Aside from cybersecurity, the industrial production sector grapples with other challenges. 29% of CEOs see the necessity of supply chain adaptation to increase resilience as one of the most important strategic actions over the next six months, according to the EY CEO Outlook Survey 2023. However, geared by a changing geopolitical landscape, nearly one in three respondents (32%) claim to have delayed their supply chain plans.

The development ambitions of industrial companies in relation to AI can also be hampered by a lack of relevant technological talent. According to 27% of CEOs in the advanced manufacturing industry, one of their most essential goals in the next six months is to adopt new work models and develop talent attraction and retention strategies. For one in four (26%) companies, the lack and cost of acquiring talent with the right competences are their biggest obstacles to business development.

About the Study

This report is based on global EY surveys conducted among top executives from the manufacturing sector in 2023 as part of the CEO Outlook Survey. The data was supplemented by a local survey – How Polish Companies Implement AI – carried out in August and September 2023. The sample included 501 medium and large companies, of which 40% were manufacturing enterprises. Another data source is the report Waiting for NIS2: preparedness state developed by CSO Council, EY Poland, and Trend Micro.

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