It wasn’t that long ago that artificial intelligence (AI) was just something we read about in science fiction books, but today, businesses are specifically investing in AI in order to gain a competitive edge by improving services, making information available more quickly, optimising business processes and implementing completely new business models—all of which are of interest to large corporations and SMEs alike.
Advancing digitalisation is resulting in large volumes of data. Data which have to be stored and protected from unauthorised access, but which are also the basis for AI’s march towards the future. The opportunities for using artificial intelligence are vast as it can be used to evaluate and provision large amounts of data within a very short time, and quickly detect and react to objects and situations such as on the roads. AI can also be used to gain insights in to the future by analysing comparable data and scenarios for example in healthcare, when maintaining technical devices and also for insurance purposes. “Baden Württemberg is a hotbed of exciting AI solution development”, explains Moritz Dierberger, Business Development Manager at Bechtle. Tübingen’s Cyber Valley is home to some of the big players like Bosch, Daimler, Porsche and Amazon and is one of Europe’s most important locations for AI research. The problem is, the solutions developed there are predominantly used by large organisations. “SMEs in particular can benefit greatly from artificial intelligence”, says Moritz Dierberger.
A lively start-up scene has sprung up around Cyber Valley, where small companies and their leading scientists are working on innovative AI solutions that can be used by SMEs. “And this is where Bechtle comes in. Together with the Startup Initiative that brings together numerous highly compelling businesses, we are building bridges to our customers and making the latest scientific findings available for smaller companies and their needs”, explains Moritz Dierberger. Together with his colleagues from Hamburg to Ulm, he advises SME customers and supported them in developing their own AI strategy. “A growing number of medium-sized companies are coming to realise that they need to be doing something, but they don’t know how. Their competitors in Asia and the US tend to be one step ahead and are already successfully using AI.” Bechtle identifies areas within a business that could meaningfully implement artificial intelligence, making the real benefits of digitalisation projects tangible and measurable.
AI can also be used to dynamically optimise processes. Manufacturing companies that produce large volumes can make significant savings even from very small improvements thanks to AI, for example, by using machines more efficiently or adapting processes. “Production processes involve huge data rooms, which the human brain has no chance of being able sort through, no matter the person’s experience. AI makes recommendations based not on 30, but potentially 30,000 years of virtual experience, which enables processes to be made much more efficient with the same resources. The same is true, by the way, in administration”, says Moritz Dierberger.
AI at work: Visitors to Bechtle Nuremberg are greeted at reception by Pepper the robot, who speaks five languages, recognises gestures and facial expressions and knows exactly who is meeting with whom, when and where.
There are some SMEs that have concrete ideas on how they want to leverage artificial intelligence, but they don’t have the data to do so. “Let’s say that AI is to use intelligent perception to identify scratches on a car door. In this case, we need a large volume of data that not only shows the car door with a variety of scratches, but also shows it in different lighting conditions or with reflections on the paint”, explains Moritz Dierberger. It would be extremely time-consuming to create this data for the AI system to learn from. This is where artificial data comes in. Creative AI is able to generate large volumes of data itself from a small amount of real data reflecting the factors mentioned above. This saves a huge amount of work and time in preparation for actual AI projects. Moritz Dierberger is in no doubt: “Even when we have numerous application scenarios, we are still in the early stages of a dynamic development. Artificial intelligence will have an enormous impact of the economy, but also on art and society. We’re living in exciting times!”