Germany, one of the world’s economic powerhouses and a noteworthy tech hub, is laser-focused on AI investments. According to the paper ‘AI Made in Germany’ issued by the government of the Federation, 3 billion euro total will be invested to implement an expansion strategy into the field of artificial intelligence.
Here’s the list of actions Germany plans to undertake between now and 2025:
- Creating a national network of application hubs and centers – at least 12 around the country;
- Starting over 100 professorships to encourage junior researchers to focus on AI advancements and development;
- Creating a collaborative “virtual centre” under a direct partnership with France;
- Hiring AI trainers to advise companies around the country for the implementation of the set of technologies.
What are the implications of the German AI revolution for businesses within and beyond the border? How can companies be prepared to implement artificial intelligence within the workplace?
In the post, you’ll find out about the implications of the German Artificial Intelligence initiative for the international business landscape.
Directions to develop AI in Germany
3 billion euro is 0.1% of Germany’s GDP. Understandably, business owners could wonder which industries will be changed the most by such a budget. The good news is, almost any field could benefit from artificial intelligence, though the frontrunners will likely be among the following industries:
- Customer support. According to Forrester, most startups are already automating their customer support services. Indeed, AI proves extremely useful within the field in helping businesses provide users with fast ways to solve problems, identify customer issues, offer 24/7 support, and create a personalized experience. Moreover, automation of customer support will allow businesses to save money as there’s no need to hire a human workforce.
- Customer communication. While AI is highly efficient to move customer support forward, it can be just as beneficial to revolutionize the entire shopping experience. Thanks to AI, customers can get real-time insights to make the shopping process faster and easier. With artificial intelligence in the business world, companies will be able to personalize advertising offers to know just what a customer is looking for. According to the ‘AI Made in Germany’ paper, the government of the Federation will invest in the development of customer-enabling technology that would help buyers make optimal buying decisions.
- Sales and marketing. Thanks to automation, sales professionals can outsource all the mundane tasks to artificial intelligence focusing on more challenging assignments instead. Moreover, business owners can examine potential leads, parse their connections, and reach them in a more subtle way. When it comes to marketing, AI allows ‘hyper-personalization” — an option to provide a user with a needed insight at the right time.
- Software development. Wouldn’t it be convenient for business owners to describe an idea using easy to understand language and see it developed in a code? AI makes such a workflow possible. When it comes to testing, artificial intelligence can speed up bug reporting and increase its efficiency. AI is useful for a developer’s decision-making process as well. Recognizing the power of artificial intelligence, the German government has issued a plan to use the ‘hardware-software co-design’ that would allow the manufacturers of microelectronic products to collaborate with software development in order to create secure and reliable systems.
- Image recognition. This is one of the primary applications of artificial intelligence in Germany and worldwide. Financial and security organizations, government, and military branches would benefit first from AI-empowered image recognition.
- Computer vision. An AI technology that allows machines to label and store images has an array of beneficial applications in various industries. In retail, the launch of Amazon Go was one of the most impressive cases of using computer vision to create a new customer experience. However, the technology is even more promising when it comes to healthcare. Computer vision is expected to help doctors classify illnesses or medical conditions. Tools like SlantRange allow farmers to harness the power of computer vision as well by increasing the visibility of the fields. The range of possible applications and benefits provided by the technology is tremendous – that’s why computer vision is, without a doubt, worth investing in.
What benefits does AI bring for businesses?
The applications of AI across different industries are numerous. However, that’s not to say AI adoption is not expensive and time-consuming. Business owners are often well aware of the commitment to adopting such technology requires. What makes it worthwhile?
Here is the list of business-oriented benefits brought by AI.
- Automating day-to-day operations. Small business owners are constantly involved in tasks that require little-to-no creativity — checking emails, filling in paperwork, filing taxes. These tasks distract entrepreneurs from global changes that will boost the company’s growth. Moreover, in some cases, such as paying taxes, the value of human error can result in a fare. With AI, startups can outsource the tasks they don’t know how to do or don’t enjoy handling so that they are done automatically.
- Avoiding or reducing the impact of human error. Within the judiciary system or even healthcare, the cost of human error is too high to afford as human lives are at stake. AI can collaborate with a human (without replacing him) to provide algorithmic logic and rationality and reduce the impact of human error.
- Increasing productivity and work efficiency. AI can transform the workplace itself from an improved recruitment system that will help companies with hiring fit candidates, onboarding improvement, and a detailed metrics and analytics system that would be capable of determining the efficiency rate of an employee and show if their performance within the company is going up or down.
- Identify new sales opportunities. Artificial intelligence can be used for market analysis providing business owners with data on how promising a particular area is, or which product ranges are trending and faster to sell. Strong analytics and business intelligence software will allow potential business owners to do more thorough research on future projects.
- Generate insights to improve customer support. Artificial intelligence is equipped with all the tools needed to improve the speed and efficiency of data analysis — the speed and rate of data processing, the precision of search queries, etc. to help businesses identify and solve customers’ concerns faster.
Who should integrate AI solutions first of all [and why]?
According to the report issued by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, SMEs provide the country with over 37% of its overall turnover. Such a high impact proves that these companies will be driving the country’s overall economic landscape. It makes sense to suggest that small and medium enterprises will be the first ones to adopt artificial intelligence as well.
Some industries, like digital marketing and e-commerce, are a few steps ahead when it comes to implementing automation, at least on a basic level. Others are slow behind. Here is the list of industries that aren’t as active when it comes to AI adoption and should hurry to integrate it.
- Healthcare. According to Intel and Convergys Analytics, 54% out of all surveyed healthcare professionals expect AI to be widespread in healthcare over the next 5 years. However, according to the same survey, over 50% of people expressed a fear that AI will be a threat and responsible for a fatal mistake. It’s important to narrow down its possible applications so that all the challenging procedures are overseen by humans.
- Automotive industry. The automotive industry is one of Germany’s stronger points — there are dozens of established companies. In order to beat global tech giants, companies are challenged to adopt artificial intelligence. They are working on AI-powered driving assistants, cloud-based car management, etc. Robots can also be used for car manufacturing in order to develop unified manufacturing standards and reduce the human error impact.
- Cybersecurity. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning improves the speed and efficiency of threat detection and blocking abnormal behavior. Of course, it’s important to remember that hackers use technology to learn their targets better too, so in a certain way, AI presents a challenge to the industry as well and a force to reckon with.
- E-commerce. This industry can benefit strongly from AI adoption — it will enhance product development, identifying new markets, improving distribution, and automating daily processes. AI can generate automated product descriptions, or improve customer experience by generating a list of personalized recommendations. Moreover, the technology can be brought in to optimize and manage warehouses, improving the speed and the precision of stocking.
- Employee safety. Companies can use machine learning and predictive analytics to forecast and prevent hazardous situations on job sites.
- Agriculture. This industry is highly traditional, and yet, the application of artificial intelligence in business is almost endless — from the soil and crop monitoring to agricultural robots. Agricultural businesses can hire less workforce or use their existing workers more efficiently. At Unicsoft, we’ve developed a cloud-based hazard monitoring tool. It tracks the safety of elevator buckets and conveyors and allows reducing the risk of explosions and other hazards. The system is supported by intelligent sensors.
Possible risks of AI adoption
Regardless of all the governmental incentives created in Europe and worldwide, companies are still hesitant when it comes to AI adoption. There are certainly a few risks to overcome on the way to boosting the business through technology. German and European SMEs are mainly confronted with the following challenges:
- Skills gap. Companies need highly skilled professionals in machine learning, data science, and computer science to move AI projects forward. The percentage of people working in these fields compared to the overall workforce is vastly disproportionate — according to the European Data Market Study, there’s a lack of over 396,000 data science specialists in the market right now. In the US, for example, out of 150 million workers, only 235,000 professionals work in AI-related fields.
- Narrow datasets for AI technology development. The value of artificial intelligence is reliant on the data input. The lack of structured datasets or data volume results in limiting the use of cases of artificial intelligence or data errors.
- Complexity barriers. Companies are rightfully worried that self-learning AI-developed algorithms will become so advanced that a developer will no longer be able to explain how they work. AI as we know is in dire need of regulatory mechanisms that will limit the use of the technology to a particular task.
German governance of AI support
Germany’s stand on AI in Europe is already quite strong. However, the Federation Government wants to increase the country’s position as a research center to use innovations in the interest of society and its citizens. It has already been announced that businesses and educational institutions will be provided with up to 3 billion euros in order to start or improve the performance of AI departments.
Here are the main business- and research-related goals the German government will undertake in the next 5-7 years according to ‘Artificial Intelligence Made in Germany’:
- Create a European innovation cluster focused on AI innovation, development, and research;
- Have AI trainers contact up to 1,000 companies each year in order to help SMEs implement the technology in the workplace;
- Double the EXIST (Business Startups in Science) program budget;
- Initiate European dialogue aimed at the human-centric use of AI.
All of the above goals are expected to have an impact in Europe and overseas. The German government dedicates a lot of time and resources in order to create a collaborative environment for AI development in the EU and beyond. Needless to say, the changes implemented over the course of the next 5 years will have an effect on research institutions and businesses out of the country — enterprises have to be ready to embrace those opportunities and impacts.
Checklist: how to prepare your business for the AI revolution in Germany
Initiatives like this prove the importance of AI integration into SMEs. Integrating the technology into a company might seem difficult at first glance. However, it’s not as challenging if you’re approaching the process step-by-step.
- Determine what problems can be solved by artificial intelligence technologies. Adopting artificial intelligence is a huge investment and commitment — there’s no point in doing it just for the sake of a trend. When approaching AI integration, start with a problem you can’t solve without technology or the solution will not be particularly effective.
- Research what modern AI technologies are and aren’t capable of. There is a lot of buzz circling around AI — some of these things are myths straight out of science fiction, while other applications are real. After you’ve defined the problem that can be solved technologically, define a list of feasible applications and evaluate their budgets.
- Start by implementing smaller scope projects (basic workspace automation) and learn from your mistakes before you switch to bigger applications. Moreover, you can even purchase a few off-the-shelf solutions to try out the technology before hiring a team to develop a custom product.
- Hire specialists who provide AI-services (data labeling, model output validation, etc.). As mentioned above, there’s a skills gap in the field. In order to lure tech talent into your company, be sure to offer clear job responsibilities, well-defined challenges, and agile workflow. In case maintaining an in-house AI department is too challenging for the company in terms of space and effort needed, contacting a full-cycle product development company would be another way to go. For a one-time AI-empowered project, hiring a dedicated team is a startup’s safest bet.
- Hire a taskforce to provide you with data. As mentioned above, the quality of the performance of artificial intelligence is reliant on that of its input data. To make sure you have enough information for analysis and AI development, hire a task force to create and structure datasets you’d be using while working with artificial intelligence.
- Use AI on a daily basis for workplace automation. This way, you’ll be able to both improve the day-to-day efficiency of employees and to test the AI solutions as well.
- Build an AI infrastructure within the company. This means creating a workflow where humans are assisted by AI, using tools for mundane operations as well as more demanding tasks, and constantly defining new goals and applications for the technology.
In the 21st century, artificial intelligence has replaced the space race to become the power the entire world is chasing. Most developed countries — such as the US, the UK, France, or Germany — are looking forward to becoming worldwide AI adoption leaders.
Local governments have already started creating initiatives to empower AI adoption among businesses such as the German AI initiative. For businesses, it means a need to build AI infrastructure as soon as possible.
If you’re looking forward to upgrading your product, workflow, or other aspects of your business, reach out to a team of professionals like that of Unicsoft. We have worked on various projects based on machine learning, neural network development, predictive and behavioral analytics, and more. Among Unicsoft’s clients are dozens of big corporations as well as startups and small businesses. Take a look at our work or contact us to talk about your project idea!