Blueprint for Artificial Intelligence Adoption



Policy areas

Organisation name Flanders Investment & Trade

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Contact person: Yves Ruland, Data Project Manager

Artificial intelligence (AI) applications evolve rapidly and are an important factor to solve various challenges trade and investment promotion agencies are facing today. While many have experimented with AI (e.g. in the form of a chatbot or proof of concept), few have investigated a structural approach in its adoption that considers all layers of the public organisation. As AI is set to have an impact on all internal processes, people and hierarchical structures, such an approach is urgent and highly relevant to benefit from AI in an ethical and sustainable way.

Blueprint for Artificial Intelligence Adoption’ is a project that aims to provide an answer to this controversy and has set out to create a strategy and implementation road map for AI at Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT). FIT promotes international entrepreneurship in the region of Flanders in a sustainable way, as a key element in the region’s socio-economic development. FIT’s mission is twofold: to support Flanders-based companies in their international activities, and to attract foreign investors to Flanders. Companies can call upon FIT’s network at home and abroad.

Given the strategic nature of the project, it has been developed from the beginning for impact in the long term. However, to ensure the sustainability of the outcomes and to increase the chances of adoption, a specific AI solution road map was added to the deliverables.

By establishing a road map, the benefits beyond the delivery of the expertise are made clear and specific. This allows stakeholders at various levels to have a tangible grasp on the next steps and consideration towards the implementation of AI.

On a political level, the project has been instrumental in providing the necessary vision and arguments towards decision makers in getting the necessary additional resources for further implementation.

FIT generates a goldmine of data. More than 100 economic representatives and science and technology counsellors worldwide are the agency’s eyes and ears when it comes to identifying market opportunities while gathering data in a unified customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Today, by combining that data with the result of this project, a coordinated and long-term AI strategy is being rolled out step by step. An example of an application developed via the defined strategy is this: FIT processes more than 10 000 questions every year. By using AI algorithms they can generate – almost in real time – up to 70% highly relevant answers with suggestions. This is an important boost as it directly augments the capacity for their offices worldwide to offer even more export companies useful and tailored advice.

From a human resources perspective, the project has paved the way towards new internal roles regarding data governance, quality management and analysis.

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