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Only the 2% of SMEs invests in artificial intelligence

by 14 September 2023No Comments

Only the 2%'s SMEs invests in Artificial Intelligence

Despite a lively public debate, artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be far from the priority agenda of Italian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Only a minimal percentage, 2%, of Italian SMEs with at least 10 employees invested in information technologies (IT) between 2019 and 2021. This number grows only slightly, to 10%, when we consider investments in AI together with those in Big Data .

A Look at the Inapp Investigation

Inapp (National Institute for the Analysis of Public Policies) recently released interesting data on the adoption of AI in Italian companies. The survey, which is part of the VI Survey of Businesses and Work (RIL), examined around 30,000 companies throughout the national territory.

Company Size as a Crucial Variable

The adoption of AI in Italy seems to be strongly influenced by the size of the company, its geographical location and the sector in which it operates. For example, only 1.5% of small companies with fewer than 50 employees use AI, while this percentage increases to 12% in companies with over 250 employees. This disparity could create a sort of competitive gap between different types of companies, further exacerbating existing inequalities.

Effects of AI on Employment and Training

Contrary to the common opinion that sees AI as a potential job destroyer, the Inapp investigation shows a different picture. Investment in AI, especially when paired with investments in Big Data and Robotics, is actually correlated with a slight increase (+0.7%) in labor demand. This is because AI pushes companies to increase investments in professional training, with 13% spending growing even in the absence of other advanced technologies.

Energy Transition and Artificial Intelligence

Another surprising aspect is the link between AI and sustainability. According to Inapp, the adoption of advanced technologies such as AI and Big Data is positively correlated with companies' efforts in the field of energy and ecological transition.

The Word to Sebastiano Fadda, President of Inapp

Sebastiano Fadda highlights the lack of AI skills among Italian SMEs. Despite the awareness of the existence of AI, many companies do not know how to use it effectively to improve their performance. This skills gap, combined with a lack of an established digital culture, represents a significant challenge.

Conclusions and Final Considerations

In Italy, AI remains a largely unexplored and underexploited field, especially in SMEs. This “technological inertia” not only slows economic growth but also the progression towards a more sustainable and inclusive society. Investment strategies in AI and professional training appear to be the key to overcoming these obstacles, but doing so requires a joint effort involving both the private and public sectors.

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