Why companies neglect the potential of AI - and what to do about it 

Erfurt, 11 February 2021 – Three-quarters of employees in German companies do not fear that the use of artificial intelligence in companies will jeopardise their jobs: The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Trend Study 2021 published today by the IUBH, one of the largest German universities, corrects the widespread image of AI-sceptical Germans.

The study, which involved more than 500 participants, shows that employees primarily hope that artificial intelligence will make their work more efficient, reduce their workload and speed up operations. On the other hand, only 17.9% of the respondents claimed that their company has all the competencies to use artificial intelligence successfully. And only about half of the managers are willing to train their employees in the use of artificial intelligence.

Large implementation gap – and underestimated potential

"The big surprise is the positive attitude towards artificial intelligence among employees without a management function" comments one of the study's authors, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kerzel, on the results. Together with his co-author Prof. Dr. Thomas Zöller, he is responsible for the study programmes Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at the IUBH.

"The fear of AI is dangerously overestimated in Germany. If managers believe that employees are skeptical about AI, this makes it more difficult to opt for it. So the fear of fear becomes a brake block - and leads to companies not using the enormous potential of AI," says Kerzel. 

56% of the respondents stated that AI is already simplifying processes in their company today. However, 42% do not see any need for the use of artificial intelligence in their industry. Especially in smaller companies, the potential of AI is still not properly perceived, says Kerzel: "There is a big implementation gap here."

"Keeping core processes in hand through further training".

"Companies in all sectors need to jump on board with AI now in order not to miss out on the long-term potential of the technology shift," adds Zöller. However, both researchers also see risks in using AI - above all, companies could lose control over their core processes if they do not build up internal expertise. "The more companies rely on AI services from outside, the more they hand over core processes - and that is dangerous," says Zöller. "Companies must therefore push vigorously to further train their employees on the topic of AI."

Over 500 employees and managers surveyed

More than 500 employees and managers from German companies have participated in the study. In the evaluation, a distinction was made between small enterprises (up to 20 employees > 12.4%), medium-sized enterprises (21 to 500 employees > 36.2%) and large enterprises (over 500 employees > 40.3%). 

The majority of respondents have more than 10 years of professional experience. 9.9% are managing directors, 8.4% belong to middle management, and 11.4% to lower management. 10.6% come from the HR department, 14.1% have an interface function without disciplinary management, and 45.6% of the respondents are technical staff.

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