How SMEs benefit from the use of artificial intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence is by no means reserved for Big Tech. According to GDI researcher and AI expert Jan Bieser, SMEs could also benefit from AI-driven innovation, as more and more ready-to-use applications are available on the market. Read the pre-interview on the conference "Discovery on Steroids: How AI Will Speed up Innovation" now.
31 May, 2022 by
How SMEs benefit from the use of artificial intelligence
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

GDI: When it comes to the use of artificial intelligence, there is usually talk of the global big players. But how can SMEs also use AI-driven innovation to their advantage?

Jan Bieser: In fact, companies like Google and Facebook are leaders in the development of artificial intelligence. This is partly because they have large data sets, which are necessary for training self-learning algorithms. Nevertheless, SMEs can already benefit from AI today because more and more ready-to-use AI applications are available on the market. Not everyone has to train an algorithm from scratch, but can use a pre-trained model and apply it for their own purpose.

What are concrete use cases for the application of AI in smaller businesses?

According to a study from Germany , applications in logistics, production, purchasing and customer service are particularly promising for SMEs. For example, tools for the automated identification of suppliers already support buyers in their search for new suppliers today. But there are also solutions for developing and marketing new products and services. For example, generative design tools allow engineers to try out and test a variety of different designs. Personalised advertising is used to better tailor offers to the needs of individual customers.

Can a small enterprise afford this at all?

Since these are mainly software solutions, upgrading is often possible with manageable effort, especially if they are offered as cloud solutions and priced according to use - keyword pay-per-use. Here, one can also allow oneself to test different tools. It is important to build up the competencies to identify and use the solutions that are right for you. Those who want to develop new AI solutions themselves can now also find marketplaces that facilitate access to data, tools and services. At the conference Discovery on Steroids, for example, the marketplace Bonseyes will be presented, which aims to do just that.

Should smaller companies join together in networks to use AI effectively and cost-efficiently?

It certainly makes sense to find suitable partners for the evaluation and introduction of AI solutions, especially if you are just in the process of building up competencies in this area. For smaller companies, it would certainly be helpful if industry associations offered platforms for the exchange of AI solutions. I still see potential for expansion here in Switzerland.

To what extent do companies have to rethink their processes and business models so that they can use AI successfully?

Not everything always has to be turned upside down when new AI solutions are used. Often, certain process steps are simply optimised, such as sales forecasts or demand planning. Such applications are especially suitable for companies that are just starting out. In principle, however, new offerings can also be developed. For example, with predictive maintenance, machine faults can be anticipated and remedied before they actually occur. However, there is not yet a "one-size-fits-all" approach, and the profitable use of such solutions requires careful consideration.

The conference "Discovery on Steroids" is about how AI innovation will speed up. What highlights can participants expect?

Besides the already mentioned Bonseyes marketplace, one highlight for SMEs will certainly be the solution of Intellegens , with which companies can accelerate the development of new materials, chemicals or drugs. The contributions by Marcus Du Sautoy or Iyad Rawhan will enable participants to better understand what AI can do and where its limits are.

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