Estonia is known as an agile and innovative country, and so is its business community, always ready to enhance its operations and gain a competitive edge. According to recent data published by Statistics Estonia, the adoption of AI among companies is on the rise. It totals 5% of enterprises, with a notable increase compared to 3% in 2021, when the technology’s usage was first studied in this context.
AI in Estonia is becoming an integral part of business strategies in surprising ways. Intriguingly, its use is far more common among large enterprises, where over a fifth have incorporated AI technologies into their operations. The most frequently deployed AI technologies include text mining, machine learning (deep learning), and image recognition.
Worth mentioning that the survey did not encompass the AI-powered chatbot, ChatGPT, which recently took the world by storm, as it was launched after the questionnaire’s finalization.
AI adoption — from industry to application
When dissecting the data by economic activity, certain sectors stand out as AI trailblazers. Financial and insurance activities lead the pack with a 28% adoption rate, followed closely by information and communication at 21%, and the energy sector at 14%.
In contrast, manufacturing as a whole lags behind, with only 3% of enterprises adopting AI technologies. However, within manufacturing, those involved in the production of computer, electronic, and optical products exhibit a commendable 12% adoption rate.
But what exactly is AI speeding up, and where it excels the most? Approximately 1.7% of enterprises have leveraged AI for marketing or sales, while another 1.7% have harnessed it for ICT security. In addition, 1.6% of enterprises have employed AI to streamline their business administration processes, and 1.2% have turned to AI to optimize production processes.
Beyond these core functions, AI in Estonia has found utility in logistics, accounting, auditing, finance management, and even research and development or innovation activities.
Powering the next economic expansion
Enterprises employ various strategies to acquire AI technologies. The majority, approximately 3.2%, prefer to purchase ready-to-use commercial software solutions. 2.8% opt for the purchase and modification of commercial software to tailor it to their specific needs.
An additional 1.6% of enterprises take an open-source approach, using software or systems that their in-house experts modify. Notably, nearly 2% of enterprises choose to develop their AI technologies in-house, showcasing the diversity of approaches taken in this rapidly evolving field.
While AI powers are still in their infancy, some other technologies are much more mature, showing higher adoption. For example, cloud computing services is soaring among enterprises, with 58% embracing this technology.
Notably, data security is taken more seriously than ever. Online backup services have seen a significant surge, with 44% of enterprises now utilizing them, compared to 37% in 2021. Furthermore, there’s a growing trend in procuring security software applications, including antivirus and network access control solutions, as cloud computing services.
Public sector usage on the rise
As is usual in Estonia, public sector does not lag behind businesses. “The next big thing will be AI. We are already using artificial intelligence in our operations and services, but we see there is a huge potential to make our services more convenient for the people,” Prime Minister Kaja Kallas explained to Life in Estonia Magazine in October 2022. “But at the same time, we are a rule-of-law country and every individual’s privacy is a very important matter for us.”
Invest Estonia has also joined the trend in AI adoption, with services, such as chatbot Suve and seamless integrations of machine learning in core digital services, such as e-Consulting, internally designated as electronic investment advisor Eia, and the ComparEST comparison tool. Invest Estonia’s game-changing digital solutions have been included among UNESCO’s global top 100 AI projects solving problems related to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for two consecutive years.
“The impact has been felt across all criteria,” Joonas Vänto, director of Invest Estonia, told fDi Intelligence, commenting on AI usage in Invest Estonia. “We can prioritise projects because Eia helps us to see into the projects and understand how valuable they are.”
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