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An article by Hagen Rickmann, Director Business Telekom Deutschland GmbH.

Hagen Rickmann, Director Business Telekom Deutschland GmbH

Hagen Rickmann, Director Business Telekom Deutschland GmbH.

Digitization has arrived in medium-sized businesses – but there are many different ways to digital transformation. A clever, pragmatic choice of resources is crucial to develop one's own company. Today I would like to draw your attention to the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI will penetrate all areas of business and life in the coming years. The outstanding importance of AI for Germany is reflected in the Master Plan of the German Government. The aim is to make Germany and Europe a leading location for the development and application of AI technologies and to secure Germany's future competitiveness. 

At Digital18, our new digital summit, I had many discussions - with start-ups, entrepreneurs from small and medium-sized enterprises and industry, politicians, the media and scientists.  Among others with Chris Boos, one of the most important pioneers in the field of artificial intelligence. He is convinced that with today's technology we can already completely turn our economy upside down. Boos sees opportunities especially for medium-sized companies: often more agile than big corporations, medium-sized companies decide faster and also implement projects faster. His advice: The prerequisite is a clear goal in mind. If, for example, you are looking for ways to process invoices faster, maintain master data automatically or process orders more quickly, AI is the right solution for you. Already 80 percent of all processes in companies can be automated today.

Clever, but not intelligent: machines do not understand what they are doing

Just as steam engines multiplied human muscle power in the 19th century, digitization in the 21st century supports our "mental powers". Many, however, ask themselves: What will become of my workplace when robots take over computing or thinking? 

Machines that think. Robots that show feelings. Computers that solve problems even when humans run out of ideas. That's exactly what artificial intelligence (AI) can not do today. Today's AI is actually a "specialist idiot" based on software. In contrast to us, colleague AI does not get tired and does not have to rest. Instead, the software robot routinely carries out masses of identical tasks that would quickly lead us to our limits in monotony and quantity. The AI systems are rule-based and trained to optimize one special task and to become better and better at it. AI is not yet able to react dynamically to new, spontaneous demands like humans. The machine does not understand what it is doing. 

It would be ideal if man and machine worked hand in hand

Systems with artificial intelligence are faster than humans when evaluating large amounts of data and make fewer mistakes. In medicine, for example, they support laboratory technicians and doctors wherever the computer is superior to human capabilities: in data analysis, the recognition of patterns, and the comparison of many different symptoms. AI can do in seconds what doctors would need at least an hour to do. With the support of AI, physicians can better compensate for increasing patient numbers, a shortage of specialists and strong time pressure. This means that AI relieves the user of routine tasks. This leaves more time for customers, core business and innovation. 

However, a clear framework must be established for the use of technology - and rules are needed. For example, the guidelines for the ethical handling of AI that we have developed for Deutsche Telekom. These guidelines ensure transparency. 

"Anyone who wants to move forward must put curiosity before risk and thinking before faith," said Boos. I, too, am convinced that a positive, hands-on attitude will bring us forward. The path to digital success leads through curiosity, a clear focus and the will to permanent change.

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