When thinking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) we have several pictures coming up into our minds. These are strongly influenced by the touch points we already had with AI. There is an ambiguity on how AI is perceived in society. One of the pictures creating fears of AI and spooking around for several years is one that numerous books and sci-fi movies to illustrate. Like in the Matrix-movies, the Terminator-Movies or 2001: A Space Odyssey: a Superintelligence taking control over humans. However, one might argue that there have also been positive depictions of AI in movies or series such as Star Trek, with highly intelligent algorithms benefiting humans. All in all, as pointed out by the Forbes Magazine, the good side of this emotional ambiguity and “general anxiety is the realization that whenever human society has faced a major change or shift due to technological advances, humans have developed and adapted right along with it”.
So let’s take this as a sign of progression and ask ourselves: What kinds of risks of AI do I have to consider for my business? What are the benefits? And what about my employees and potential fears?
First of all it is important to mention that the great relevance of Artificial Intelligence for the future of businesses and industries is undoubtable. At this very moment companies in all kinds of industries use or start using AI not only for their products, but also for their internal processes.
The Corona pandemic fueled the development regarding digitalization and contributed to a general transformation of the German Mittelstand (German middle-sized companies). According to a representative survey by the DZ Bank, many mid-sized companies are now proactively realigning: Around 40% of the companies increase their investments in new technologies and AI. Looking only at the companies with more than 50 billion € revenue we are even talking about 50%!
However, businesses in Germany are still at the beginning of the AI journey. According to a trend survey of the IUBH University by Erfurt and a study by PwC , only 6 % of German companies use or are currently implementing AI. Kelzer and Zöller of the IUBH state: “Companies across all industries need to get started with AI now to avoid missing out on the long-term potential of technology change”. Hence, collecting the right data now and starting to build the infrastructure is the first step every company has to do.
In the past, the fear of AI taking jobs and leading to unemployment has kept people skeptical, even anxious, about introducing i.e. robotics. Nowadays, studies such as the survey by the IUBH University show that the opinion and perception of the potentials of Artificial Intelligence have changed. Not only has the fear of this superintelligent, control overtaking power vanished — actually the great majority of employees take a very positive stance towards Artificial Intelligence. They are expecting it to bring more efficiency, relief and velocity to their work and hence benefit from it. Regarding past developments, AI creates new job roles and chances for employees to develop. Therefore, offering education and trainings for the employees can be crucial for the success of a company: According to an international Microsoft study companies are most successful in facing new challenges if they focus on improving the skill set and supporting a culture of constant learning.
We live in a world that is being enriched by masses of data on a daily basis. What studies show is though, that there is a lack of competence and experience within the company in areas like Machine Learning (ML), AI and how to collect, correctly process and handle the data. Therefore, it is crucial to deal with the question on the quality of data, how data is processed and how to make use of it and implement an intelligent algorithm early.
When having built the framework in order to collect the data needed for an efficient algorithm, the benefits of Artificial Intelligence are mainly seen in reducing costs and time invested. To be more specific: AI helps in the decision making process since it analyzes the amounts of data, discovers correlations, automizes processes, learns from the continuous data feeding and makes recommendations. The enormous potential of using the existing data is estimated to contribute to the global economy with 15,7 trillion $ by 2030 (s. PwC, 2020)!
As we have seen, Germany is on a good path and taking the right, first steps in developing and implementing the AI strategy, endeavoring to coin the notion “AI made in Europe”. Meanwhile, many other countries worldwide already had their strategy set years earlier and are actively integrating AI. Nevertheless, the potential of the German industry may not be underestimated, as Amir Husain, founder of the AI company SparkCognition, points out:
According to Husain, since Germany maintains a strong economy that relies on exports of products such as machine parts and automobiles “Germany has been able to compete by using automation to keep manufacturing costs down, while keeping quality and productivity high. AI could reinforce this advantage by powering the next generation of automation technologies”.
The AI transformation is happening and the question is simply on how fast it can happen. Even more exciting is the consideration of how AI will shape other trending topics such as climate protection, sustainability or social equality. Ideas such as forecasts and recommendation engines for finding the optimal locations for renewable energies, autonomous driving, precision farming technologies or algorithms drawing attention to social inequalities are just a selection of the potentials.
All in all, the times of being afraid of AI and fearing its risks have passed and given way to the benefits companies can already profit from today. As mentioned in the beginning of this article: We are at an exciting turning point of technological enhancement and the upcoming years will most probably bring an intriguing overall development — not only for humans.
If you want to discuss the potentials of Artificial Intelligence in your business context and see what potentials exist, feel free to contact us!