How is Artificial Intelligence used in small and medium-sized enterprises?

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Artificial Intelligence is revolutionising the way companies do business, streamline processes and drive innovation. Small and medium-sized enterprises are increasingly opening up to AI. But how is this development taking place? How are SMEs using this technology and for what? That's what this article is about.

The current state of AI-Use in small and medium enterprises: 

Until recently, Artifical Intelligence seemed a long way off for most SMEs in Germany. According to a study by the cloud provider Ionos over 90% of SMEs had no productive use of AI at the beginning of the year. As a result of this reluctance, they were losing competitiveness to start-ups that were already benefiting from generative AI and the automation of cognitive tasks.

So while SMEs in Germany recognise the benefits of AI in areas such as process optimisation and reducing the workload on employees, they are often reluctant to integrate this innovative technology into their own business processes.

However, according to this study, attitudes towards AI are gradually changing in SMEs. In fact, 14% of the representatives surveyed said they now frequently use Artificial Intelligence. This could indicate that the willingness to use AI is growing. More than half of those surveyed rated current developments related to generative AI positively. Although these figures are below the US average, they show a positive trend towards increased use of AI.

The benefits of Artificial Intelligence - Why should SMEs consider AI? 

There are many benefits. The main benefits are:

  • Simplifying and speeding up processes
  • Taking over and automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks
  • Relieving staff of routine tasks and freeing up resources for more creative work
  • Generating creative ideas
  • Developement of products
  • Reduce costs
  • Increase efficiency
  • Minimise error rates

Artificial Intelligence can also help SMEs become more competitive by responding more quickly to market changes and better serving their customers. In addition, the potential of AI is extremely high, especially for support and automation tasks, as well as in areas such as process efficiency, customer service and logistics.

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Risks and concerns

Despite the benefits, there are also risks and concerns that need to be considered when introducing Artificial Intelligence. Around three-quarters of SMEs in Germany and internationally fear the potential loss of jobs, the risk of misinformation, lack of transparency and a breach of data protection. These concerns are not unfounded and require careful planning and monitoring. However, they should not be an obstacle to the use of AI in business processes, as the benefits clearly outweigh them. Furthermore, AI will not replace humans, but rather support their work.

Opportunities and challenges for AI in SMEs

AI applications offer enormous opportunities for SMEs. Quality control, data analysis, image recognition, predictive maintenance and intelligent assistance systems are just a few examples. The economic potential of AI is also huge, especially for the sectors retail, consumer goods, energy, chemicals, environment, telecommunications, IT and media.

However, only about 6% of German companies currently use such applications. The main reasons cited for this reluctance are a lack of expertise and data, an insufficient data base and limited financial resources. Furthermore, AI is mainly used by large companies and Start Ups. This is because small and medium-sized enterprises need special support to implement AI.

Conclusion

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence requires time, resources and technical know-how, but the long-term benefits can significantly outweigh the investment. The potential for process optimisation, increased efficiency and quality improvement is clear, but the barriers of lack of expertise need to be overcome to fully realise the potential of AI in SMEs. With the right support, planning and participation in appropriate workshops, small and medium-sized enterprises are able to easily overcome these obstacles and use various AI applications correctly.

Do you have any questions or are you interested in receiving more information? Would you like to find out more about our OCR solution REEDR for your Salesforce CRM? Then contact us directly here.

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