PwC and Microsoft create AI centre for Irish firms. New PwC survey finds AI and GenAI adoption in Ireland slow by international comparisons.
PwC Ireland and Microsoft have joined forces to launch a new GenAI Business Centre to support Irish businesses grappling with artificial intelligence.
The new GenAI Business Centre will help PwC turn its aI experience into business outcomes for its clients enabled by Microsoft technology.
“To secure the opportunities from AI and GenAI businesses need a clear strategy to ensure return on investment in a safe and secure way”
This follows PwC’s global strategic collaboration with Microsoft creating scalable offerings using Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service and Copilot for Microsoft 365 to help support clients in reimagining their organisations.
AI to power a generational leap forward
PwC earlier this year also invested, through its industry leading relationship with Microsoft, over €1bn globally to expand and scale artificial intelligence (AI) and drive human-led, tech-powered transformation.
The consulting giant has also invested significantly over the last number of years in the digital upskilling of all of its people. This ongoing investment is seeing this upskilling extended to cover AI and GenAI skills for all staff.
“This is a very important investment by PwC Ireland which we believe will deliver a generational leap forward in the way we deliver our work and aligns with our strategy to be at the forefront of technology-enabled change,” said Enda McDonagh, managing partner, PwC Ireland.
“This strategic collaboration with Microsoft will allow us to harness the power of Generative AI in a secure and responsible way to build trust and drive sustained outcomes for clients. As part of PwC Ireland’s commitment to this leading edge technology and ensuing opportunities, we have recently created a dedicated head of GenAI role, to which Martin Duffy has been appointed.”
Oh God, AI – why are Irish firms lagging?
A recent study by PwC found that few Irish organisations have adopted AI widely compared with their US counterparts.
“As we embark on the era of AI, we are already starting to amplify human ingenuity by accelerating productivity and innovation using technology that is designed to be a copilot in our everyday working lives”
Less than one in ten (7%) respondents admitted that they have rolled out AI on a large scale in their organisations. This compares to 26% in a previous PwC survey carried out amongst US business executives*. However, a further 61% of Irish business leaders said that they are either considering adopting AI or are using it to a limited extent.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of Irish business leaders admitted that they have no plans to use GenAI, such as OpenAI’s GPT models, in the year ahead. Where they are planning to use GenAI there are a wide range of expected applications such as supporting financial, sales and marketing planning (21%), enhancing supply chains & operations (15%), developing new products (11%) and helping forecast market conditions (10%).
The EU AI Act is expected to be passed into law in the coming months and will drive the importance of good AI governance. However, just 6% of Irish business leaders confirmed that they have an AI governance structure in place. A further 72% have not even started to implement such a plan or are not sure.
“Our 2023 GenAI Business Leaders Survey highlights that, despite the opportunities, AI and GenAI adoption is slow in Irish business and there is more to do on improving AI governance,” said Aisling Curtis, market leader, Strategic Alliances, at PwC Ireland.
“At the same time, Irish business leaders overall are positive about the potential impact of GenAI on the economy and their businesses.
“To secure the opportunities from AI and GenAI businesses need a clear strategy to ensure return on investment in a safe and secure way. Going forward there will need to be a better understanding of the AI and GenAI capabilities, better governance, more focus on measuring and achieving strong return on investment and trustworthy algorithms with the right data to train them.”
Anne Sheehan, general manager, Microsoft Ireland, added: “Microsoft welcomes the significant investment PwC is making in AI in the Irish market to drive transformation for our mutual customers, across both the private and public sector.
“We can see from PwC’s findings from business leaders in the Irish market, which aligns with what we are seeing globally, that Generative AI will have an overall positive impact on the economy. As we embark on the era of AI, we are already starting to amplify human ingenuity by accelerating productivity and innovation using technology that is designed to be a copilot in our everyday working lives.”
Main image at top: Anne Sheehan, General Manager, Microsoft Ireland; Martin Duffy, Head of GenAI, PwC Ireland; Enda McDonagh, Managing Partner, PwC Ireland and Aisling Curtis, Market Leader, Strategic Alliances, PwC Ireland