Product Finder

Hotline Onlinetool

B2B: Investment in AI is increasing

Redaktion PSI Journal

Published on 25.03.2024

The use of artificial intelligence (38%) is the top topic for B2B companies after digitalisation (59%). In addition to internal goals such as increasing efficiency (53%), the main drivers for the implementation of AI solutions from the perspective of wholesalers and manufacturers are customer requirements and competitive pressure (44% each). This is shown by the results of the latest B2BEST Barometer from ECC COLOGNE and Creditreform.

The relevance of the topic is also reflected in the planned investments in AI: the majority of respondents already increased these investments last year and intend to continue doing so this year (74%). Investments are primarily being made in the AI solutions themselves (36%), but also in the expansion of the IT infrastructure and data quality. A look at the different areas of the company shows that AI applications are being used in IT security in particular (72%), followed by customer service (66%) and marketing (65%).

Opportunities through AI: Positive impact on company turnover in the long term

Overall, the majority see AI as a great opportunity and expect it to have a positive impact on company turnover and cost savings in the long term. Predictive analyses are seen as the biggest influencing factor by 80 per cent of respondents, but fraud detection using AI (77%) and automated document creation (76%) are also considered to be highly relevant. “AI solutions can significantly increase the success of B2B companies in terms of growth, efficiency and customer loyalty. However, many potentials, including in the areas of marketing automation, inventory optimisation and fraud detection, remain untapped at present, even if the relevance is recognised. Companies should utilise this leverage and push ahead with appropriate measures,” explains Sébastien Wörndle, Social Media Marketing Manager at Creditreform.

Implementation poses challenges for companies

B2B companies face many challenges and internal barriers that make successful AI implementation more difficult. In particular, integration into existing systems (43%) and data protection issues (39%) are mentioned in this context. “In addition to the need to adapt the system landscape and improve data quality, AI must be established as a top management priority. This is the only way to improve the knowledge and skills of employees and close implementation gaps,” says Dr Kai Hudetz, Managing Director of IFH KÖLN and founder of ECC KÖLN.

Economic situation remains stable

Almost seven out of ten of the manufacturers and wholesalers surveyed (68%) continue to rate the general economic situation as positive overall, even if the average score of 2.15 (on a scale of 1=very good to 5=very bad) is slightly worse than in the previous quarter. Investments have increased compared to the fourth quarter of 2023, particularly in the areas of digitalisation of sales processes (65%) and fraud prevention (30%). From the companies’ perspective, the greatest uncertainty factors are the energy crisis (39%), risk of recession (34%) and bureaucratic regulations (22%).

About the B2BEST Barometer

As part of the “B2BEST Barometer”, ECC KÖLN and Creditreform analyse the mood in wholesale and B2B sales as well as trend topics in the industry on a quarterly basis. To this end, a total of 209 wholesalers and manufacturers were surveyed online in the first quarter of 2024 to assess the economic situation as well as current risk factors and crises. This survey also focussed on the topic of “artificial intelligence”.

Source: ECC Cologne / Creditreform / IFH Cologne

Image: AdobeStock