It is undeniable that the development and applications of AI have and continue to transform the world around us. AI has unlocked previously unimaginable technological applications and capabilities in virtually every industry sector. However, technology trends indicate that across sectors, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) are struggling to integrate AI into their manufacturing and production systems. In fact, only 10% to 15% of Western European SME’s are using AI. (Source: OECD Database on ICT access 2020)
There are some indicators as to what the barriers for adoption and integration of AI solutions might be:
- AI solutions and applications are not intuitive nor user friendly
- AI is perceived as being not accessible nor affordable
- Standard hardware and operating systems are not developed to support AI and SME’s don’t have the resources to either retrofit or develop systems that enable AI integration
- Affordable AI solutions utilise cloud storage, which pose security concerns over data privacy and storage
These barriers to entry and adoption of AI solutions present 2 main challenges for SMEs: the inability to maximise their profitability and productivity, and the possibility of eradication by larger groups and companies.
Take for example independent businesses providers of IT services, professional services, healthcare providers, pharmacies, to name a few. Their inability to automate simple tasks such as supply chain management, financial operations, delivery services to customers, or ensure data privacy and protection – which is critical in the health care sector- put these independent businesses in threat of being swallowed by large conglomerates or cease to exist all together.
In short, AI solutions need to be simplified and affordable so that SME’s can get the full power of AI and. In other words, “there needs to be a paradigm shift that democratises AI for all businesses” says Indiana Valerian, CEO and Founder of ANTS (Advanced Neural Terminal Systems).
And this is exactly what ANTS is trying to do. Located at EPFL Innovation Park, ANTS is a rising Swiss technology company looking to ignite a paradigm shift in order to enable mass adoption of AI technologies. “Our approach is to provide SME’s with an AI-enhanced work environment equipped with the infrastructure to support it” says Indiana. Their focus is to support companies that: are in constant need of adapting to new technologies to remain competitive, are going through a generational transformation and are more susceptible to cyber security attacks, or likely have already experienced one.
ANTS is developing a “smart computer” that can be described as a plug & play, scalable, fully proprietary data center. It allows the user to physically possess the data and the computing power required for the development and implementation of on-premises machine learning technology. This will allow businesses to easily implement state of the art AI solutions tailored to their needs and without investing huge sums of money and sacrificing privacy.
In addition to the benefits of AI to mainstream processes, increase productivity and efficiency, it also provides increased data security. SME’s are under increased pressure to ensure data privacy and protection. Up to now, many SMEs use community data centers even though their business does not necessarily require it. What should be an economical solution for a small business often translates into a much higher real cost as this compliance strategy could become a real headache.
For this reason, the ANTS environment is designed to be localised, meaning that the data is stored on premises, not in a third-party server giving users full control and ownership of their data. Indiana shares, “Ensuring physical data ownership with a plug & play and by design GDPR compliant system is the new golden standard of IT that we are aiming for”
Furthermore, the system is developed in collaboration with Swiss-based academia, Indiana explains why this has been an important approach, “Switzerland is a reference in terms of digital regulation and privacy. Our tradition of confidentiality added to our excellence in innovation make the ‘swiss-made’ a strategic asset to create a hardware for digital sovereignty .”
To stay up-to date with ANTS’ development and to learn more about their technology development visit: ants-ai.net