Belgium behind the world in the race to embrace AI

A lack of understanding around AI’s business applications is causing anxiety and hesitation in Belgian businesses

Merelbeke, 1 August 2019

Organizations in Belgium are lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to embracing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, finds Avanade, the leading digital innovator on the Microsoft ecosystem. Despite Belgian business leaders being convinced of the technology’s potential, only a third of Belgian businesses have implemented some form of AI. It seems a lack of clarity around AI’s specific use within the organization holds businesses here, back.

According to Avanade’s research, almost eight in ten c-level executives believe AI will have a considerable impact on their businesses and society in the future, and two-thirds of all respondents agree the technology is an added value. However, despite the appeal, only a third of Belgian businesses have already implemented some form of AI, a figure far below the global average (90 percent).

“We’re seeing an interest from Belgian business leaders in embracing AI, but there is clear hesitation. While the technology is often touted as crucial to bringing more efficiency and operational effectiveness, leaders are struggling to grasp how and where in their business it will have the biggest impact,” says Patrick Tack, data and AI expert at Avanade Belgium.

More than half of the study’s respondents admit they don’t completely understand the technology and its specific applications in the business. Although, it seems that those higher up have a better handle on this with 28 percent of c-level executives indicating they don’t fully grasp AI, against 43 percent of directors. There is also fear that a lack of understanding is causing issues across the whole organization, with nearly a third of Belgian business leaders (29 percent) thinking their employees are nervous and even anxious about AI.

Improving clarity and transparency around the benefits and use cases of AI will undoubtedly reduce the anxiety felt and the clear majority of Belgian company leaders consider it their responsibility to ensure data and analytics tools are comprehensible for employees (82 percent) as well as consumers (78 percent). To do this however, the majority are looking for outside help, with almost all Belgian business decision makers (81 percent) believing it is necessary to bring in analysts and strategists to clarify AI algorithms’ output and its business impact and ethicists to make sure data and AI are used in an ethical manner.

“AI can truly help a business continue to thrive, but only if it is rolled out in the right way. It’s good to see that Belgian business leaders recognize the need for specialist help. This will give them more time to work with the wider organization on explaining the benefits that will result following implementation and offering the necessary training to relieve any anxiety. Bringing in experts will also help with the creation of a digital ethics framework, which will ensure the technology and its associated data continues being used correctly and safely throughout the organization,” Patrick Tack concludes.


Independent online research by iVOX commissioned by Avanade between May and June 2019. The survey polled 150 Belgians in a c-suite function or management immediately below the c- suite. Also statistics from Forbes Insights research in conjunction with Microsoft, Accenture and Avanade, polling 300+ technology executives (VP and above) in February 2019 are included.


Avanade is the leading provider of innovative digital and cloud services, business solutions and design-led experiences on the Microsoft ecosystem. Our professionals bring bold, fresh thinking combined with technology, business and industry expertise to help make a human impact on our clients, their customers and their employees. We are the power behind the Accenture Microsoft Business Group, helping companies to engage customers, empower employees, optimize operations and transform products, leveraging the Microsoft platform. Avanade has 36,000 professionals in 25 countries, bringing clients our best thinking through a collaborative culture that honours diversity and reflects the communities in which we operate. Majority owned by Accenture, Avanade was founded in 2000 by Accenture LLP and Microsoft Corporation. Learn more at www.avanade.com.

Belgium behind the world in the race to embrace AI

A lack of understanding around AI’s business applications is causing anxiety and hesitation in Belgian businesses.



Matt Tucker


Stephanie Vlegels

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