There is probably no question that AI will have a very significant impact on business and society. According to a survey of around 600 companies in Germany conducted by the ITC association Bitkom, this is set to happen faster than expected: 15 percent of respondents already see an impact; 79 percent expect an impact in the near future, by 2030 at the latest. In economic terms, a study by the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) predicts that AI will increase Germany’s gross domestic product (GDP) by more than eleven percent by 2030. Other studies see the value contribution of AI to the overall economy at more than 480 billion euros by 2025 and forecast an increase in employment of around 48,000 jobs in Germany. But what’s behind the economic growth? What is actually happening?
First of all, conventional companies must advance digitalization in order to be able to use AI-based solutions at all. Digitalization is the foundation for all further developments, as it provides the technical infrastructure for all subsequent steps. Just as rails must be laid before trains can run, capture technology and a corresponding communication network must be installed in the areas of the company to be optimized, so that data can be obtained as a starting point for changes and improvements.
Startups usually bring capture technology with them from the beginning; many of them work based on platforms that collect customer data. These are evaluated by AI-based solutions. The evaluations can be used for suitable additional offers, but also for the development of new offers. In addition, they increasingly delegate repetitive, structured, and boring routine work to bots, for example in customer service or in the billing department.
What startups do “right” from the beginning, conventional companies are now doing step by step. With digitalization, data becomes available that can be automatically read, analyzed, and assigned to follow-up processes. For example, intelligent software captures data from invoices, no longer people. Or in production, data on the performance of components is collected so that they can be replaced before they fail and bring production to a standstill.
New business opportunities
Once data is available, it can be examined by intelligent software for certain patterns, such as the categorization of invoices, delivery notes, contract documents, or malfunctions. In addition, AI-powered software can reveal further connections. Many of us are already familiar with this: once we search for “strollers” on Google, we immediately see ads for strollers and other products for toddlers. Manufacturers can implement similar tactics on their own portals. Or in case of complaints, it may become apparent that customers were supplied with products from a particular batch. In this case, a provider can proactively approach customers who have not yet complained and offer a replacement, thereby influencing the customer relationship, or even use the data to initiate the development of a better product.
What will change
One thing is clear: routine work will decrease in the future, fewer people will be needed for clerical tasks. Companies are already complaining about the shortage of skilled workers, which will worsen in the coming years as baby boomers retire from the workforce – AI solutions can help avoid business losses. At the same time, companies can attract and motivate employees by offering more interesting tasks, supported by the use of state- of-the-art technology.
Skilled workers are needed to bring digitization and AI-powered solutions into companies, to maintain and develop them, to evaluate data, to train employees in the use of data. Then the decisions made in the company on the basis of AI-based evaluations must be implemented, in marketing and sales, in logistics, in research & development, design and production.
Furthermore, digitization requires new hardware and software in companies and services for maintenance and renewal, and more and more data makes more and more computing and storage capacity and thus products and services necessary. The acquisition of new customers increases sales and profits, and the development of new products generates added value.
AI will change working life, moving away from “manual labor” to more “mental labor” with data based on state-of-the-art technology. This will also change processes of decision- making, which will increasingly be data-driven instead of gut-driven. Retrofitting and equipping companies will create added value and pay into GDP, and so will the development of new offerings and products.