Only a quarter of German companies have already integrated AI into business processes - across Europe, the proportion is higher at 31 percent. Nevertheless, there is room for an optimistic outlook for the future: 45 percent of the same group sees AI as a very important or even the most important priority in their digital strategy. However, it is still primarily the large companies and IT groups that are benefiting from the current AI boom. AI2Ynet, a platform for AI technologies, aims to change that. The joint project of the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, the European Center for Information and Communication Technologies (EICT) and the Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (German Informatics Society) aims to introduce SMEs, which are so important for the German economy, to the innovation field of AI.
A look at SMEs: AI means risk
SMEs in Germany are rather shy when it comes to using AI. There are many reasons for this: when it comes to AI, many SMEs mainly lack their own development and implementation capacities, strategic technology partners or access to the necessary data pools. For SMEs, direct AI entry is often associated with high effort and great risk. However, the use of AI holds potentials in numerous business areas, which, if not exploited, can reduce the innovation capability and revenue potential of SMEs.
One possible solution would be to create an alliance of several SMEs that support each other with their respective perspectives and experience in implementing the new technologies.
Enabling AI innovation transfer between SMEs.
The AI2Ynet platform is therefore intended to create a cross-industry and cross-domain platform for the joint provision and use of AI algorithms, data sources and interfaces to act as a central point of contact and trusted networking opportunity for SMEs in particular. The transfer of AI - and ultimately innovation - is the core mechanic that AI2Ynet aims to enforce as a driver for SMEs.
AI innovation? A tradeable commodity
One example of real-world AI is finding shortcuts within business processes. Knowledge of which components need to be connected to which systems and which processes are particularly suited to the use of this technology can become a valuable commodity on the platform. In this idea of transferring one's own experience to other application areas, there is business development potential for a wide variety of companies - and not just for SMEs in need of innovation.
AI methods and applications can be used, for example, for the optimization of individual products, services, processes or the development of new business models. In this way, an AI innovation is created which, in addition to the marketing of the resulting products, offers an innovation transfer as an exploitation strategy. Thus, the AI2Ynet project takes on a twofold objective:
For SMEs in need of innovation: to introduce them to technology in a freely accessible marketplace - in other words, to give them access to a diverse range of AI goods. In a second step, support them in their innovation through knowledge transfer.
For AI pioneers: empowering them to transfer all or part of their innovation to other SMEs to create further value from it.
Why think across ecosystems?
If technological requirements and potential solutions of the individual ecosystems are similar despite different application areas, improved exchange can generate mutual added value. There are fewer conflicting goals standing in the way of innovation transfer across ecosystem boundaries: SMEs, unlike corporations, usually focus on a single ecosystem and are rarely in competition with SMEs from other ecosystems. Ecosystems differ in their respective sociocultural, technological, economic and political framework conditions. The great value creation potential of a cross-ecosystem transfer is therefore also countered by a high level of technical and organizational effort. In addition to the challenges resulting from different framework conditions, there is often a lack of technical, organizational and contractual standards for the exchange of digital innovations. The imbalance between SMEs and global corporations caused by structural differences should be significantly mitigated by this project, contributing to a "level playing field".
About the project
With the project "AI2Ynet", the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, the Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V., the European Center for Information and Communication Technologies (EICT) and other partners are applying for the AI Competition 2019 of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.