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Broad adoption of AI by SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), non-profit organizations (NGOs), and government-funded institutions typically employ 80% of a country's workforce. However, these organizations usually have low AI maturity as they often lack the resources, skills, data, or IT infrastructure to develop and adopt AI solutions. Understanding what AI can do, identifying AI use cases, and applying AI solutions are critical success factors for these organizations and the economies that host them. Early adopters of AI will have a critical advantage from experience with AI applications. Therefore, these organizations must be supported now to adopt AI, so that they can continue to deliver their missions and objectives and that their workforce will continue to be economically relevant.

There are currently very few means to assist or support the adoption of AI by SMEs, because: firstly, SMEs do not have extra resources for this kind of development work, secondly, SMEs are more short term-oriented and seldom have the financial ability to invest in long-term projects, and finally, there are many types of SMEs.

The aim of the project is to create a bank of sharable resources (web portal) to support the following initiatives:

  • Outreach materials and activities to engage AI Unaware and AI Aware enterprises
  • A catalogue of AI solutions by industry verticals and functions
  • A service to match AI Unaware and AI Aware consumers to AI Solution providers based on the consumers' industry verticals and business activities

The following impactful and tangible outcomes are expected in executing this project:

  • Share existing methodologies to define, assess, and categorize the AI maturity of enterprises to develop and recommend relevant programs for them. Organizations have different needs depending on their AI maturity. A framework is required to assess organizations' AI maturity and derive appropriate AI strategies and programs to accelerate their AI adoption.
  • Determine the best way to reach AI Unaware and AI Aware organizations by using online and offline events, press or TV campaigns and others, to engage with them. Other potential channels include working with partners in the industry ecosystem, such as trade associations and educational institutions.
  • Determine principles to assess the quality of AI solution providers and ways to match organizations to AI solution provider by using an AI recommender system to match AI consumers to AI solution provider based on industry vertical or function. Along with this, the project will develop a systemic way to ensure that only quality AI solutions are listed on the platform.

 GPAI innovation and commercialization working group SMEs committee report (November 2021)

Short-term objectives

The following concrete deliverables will be available for the Summit of 2021:

  • A template of the portal and shared resources and activities to engage the AI Unaware and AI Aware enterprises. The project will build the template of the portal but not deploy or operate it: respective member states will be able to use the template and common materials to build and operate their own portal locally, including translation of content into their local languages.
  • A curated catalogue of solutions by industry verticals and functions.
  • A matching service to recommend AI Solution Providers to organizations.

Long-term deliverable

By the end of 2022 the working group aims to:

  • Conduct field tests of the portal on existing initiatives from fellow GPAI members.
  • Develop an AI readiness index for AI consumers and a quality assessment for AI solution providers for listing on the portal.