Unutilised AI Potential for German Hidden Champions

Unutilised AI Potential for German Hidden Champions

Probability of AI use increases with existing digitalisation strategy.

Although just under one in five hidden champions use artificial intelligence applications and processes, they do not yet appear to be utilising the potential of AI. This is the result of a survey conducted by IfM Bonn among companies in the manufacturing industry with at least 10 employees.

Costs versus economic benefits

The survey also shows that companies are more likely to use AI if they have a digitalisation strategy, their departments are networked and they employ their own IT staff. However, company managers also seem to be specifically weighing up whether the potential benefits for the economic development of the company outweigh the costs of introducing AI: for example, one in 12 hidden champions and one in six non-hidden champions have not yet decided to use AI processes despite full cross-departmental networking – which is the key technical prerequisite for AI. “The survey took place in summer 2021. However, current surveys indicate that in the meantime, hardly anything has changed in the findings,” explains IfM researcher Dr Susanne Schlepphorst.

Hidden champions see potential in internet-enabled products

Every third hidden champion in Germany already manufactures internet-enabled products. In comparison: among the non-hidden champions, only one in six companies does. Overall, the potential offered by the combination of internet-enabled products and AI has yet to be utilised by both the hidden champions and other companies in the manufacturing sector: Only one in three industrial companies manufactures internet-enabled products – and uses AI technologies or processes at the same time.