Generative AI: Opportunities for medium-sized companies

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have long been part of social and economic life in Germany. With chatbots such as ChatGPT and Google Bard, Generative AI (GenAI) has recently moved into the public spotlight. But how can SMEs use these and other AI solutions? With this focus, the annual "AI for SMEs" conference was held on October 26 jointly with the IHK für München und Oberbayern (Chamber of Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria), the applied AI initiative and fortiss.
fortiss Prof. Dr. Alexander Pretschner
Prof. Dr. Alexander Pretschner gave the introduction to the conference with the question "How "well" does AI work, and when does it work well enough?"

For years, the AI for SMEs conference has been a proven platform for SMEs that want to gain initial experience with AI and would like to gain more in-depth insights into this topic. Last Thursday, the speakers once again gave sound information about the different stages of AI implementation in a clear and practical way in front of more than 150 participants. This should help small and medium-sized enterprises to position themselves future-oriented in a disruptive environment.

How medium-sized businesses are benefiting from the current hype

GenAI solutions such as ChatGPT, Google Bard and DALL-E have once again brought the relevance of AI for companies into focus and were therefore considered from different angles at the event. In his exciting presentation, Professor Dr. Alexander Pretschner, Scientific Director and speaker of fortiss, raised the central question: "When is AI good (enough)?" He looked for the answer in the context of the practical application of machine learning, which is already used today in medical diagnostics, defense or software development.

In his remarks, he emphasized that the quality of corresponding systems must be classified. "AI cannot do everything, so we should move away from the black-and-white discussion. Much more important is the deliberate and targeted use of AI solutions for specific applications," Pretschner said. "There is a broad spectrum of quality requirements for AI systems. If you think about the specific quality requirements beforehand, you avoid disappointment and can use the systems more effectively." He pointed to the Bavarian Center for Software Innovation and fortiss' other transfer formats as a point of contact for medium-sized companies for qualifications, prototypes, funding and research projects and much more on the topic of AI.

Also providing a first deep dive into the topic of GenAI, were two AI experts from Munich University of Applied Sciences, Eshref Januzaj and Dr. Martin Häusl. Apart from their creative and useful application, these technologies also raise important legal and ethical questions. In their presentation, the two experts referred, among other things, to the appropriate prompting, critical consideration of the output data quality, regulation of AI, copyrights and ethical considerations that companies must take into account when implementing these technologies.

How to get started with AI the easy way

Nicole Höss, from the Regensburg Center for Artificial Intelligence (RCAI), explained how AI can be used successfully, using five success stories in which companies became successful AI users with the help of the "AI Transfer Plus" program. The program helps small and medium-sized companies make practical use of AI to increase efficiency, innovativeness and growth. Andreas Preißler from the AI agency baiosphere also followed up immediately in his presentation and gave a compact overview of public and practicable subsidies that can be an important building block in financing.

In her presentation, Dr. Johanna Farnhammrer from the initiative applied AI, put a practical focus on the collaboration of medium-sized companies with startups as well as the implementation of AI use cases. She also presented a make-or-buy strategy and addressed various ways to implement an AI project without a large development team. At the end of the event, she then guided the participants through the workshop "Experience AI introduction".

After the conclusion of the varied program on the premises of the IHK, the entrepreneurs still had the opportunity to exchange and network in detail with leading experts from the fields of science, associations, subsidies, industry and startups.

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