British and European brands see AI as a vital part of personalising the customer experience – but the UK is behind its Euro business competitors when it comes to implementation, new research shows.

Nine out of 10 UK companies surveyed by Adobe believe AI equates with future business success; but only 30% were happy with the role AI currently plays in personalising their customers’ experience.

That contrasts with a more positive view across the rest of Europe – 42% in Germany, 35% in Switzerland and 35% in France.

While 92% of British businesses said they plan to greatly increase the role of AI by 2020, Adobe researchers pointed to some serious challenges standing in the way.

Well over half of UK brands (59%) admitted they can’t deal with customer data fast enough – businesses across the rest of Europe agreed (56%). And 52% of UK businesses said they also have too much customer data from too many sources.

The GDPR effect also weighs heavily, creating a new layer of complexity as businesses try to implement customer personalisation strategies. Almost half (49%) said the EU’s new data protection rules had slowed down the introduction of AI.

A shortage of skills is another factor hindering progress in AI: almost three quarters (74%) of UK brands are training staff in AI, but 71% have needed to bring in new talent to make up the shortfall. Hiring is mainly focused on IT skills, data analysis and ethical skills and understanding. The numbers and focus are similar across Europe.

“Brands face a constant battle to stay relevant in the eyes of their customers,” said Bridget Perry, Vice President of Marketing, Adobe EMEA.

“UK companies are acutely aware that they need to get closer to their customers, and provide more personalised services if they are to stay relevant. The level of analytics required for effective personalisation at scale may have seemed impossible just a few years ago, but AI has made it a reality, allowing companies to quickly gain vital customer insights from huge volumes of data.”

Adobe carried out research for its forthcoming Context is Everything report by interviewing 600 senior decision makers across Europe from the financial services and insurance, media, telecoms, and hospitality sectors.

Sourced from Adobe; additional content by WARC staff