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Artificial Intelligence: are Italian companies prepared to exploit its potential?
The opportunities offered by artificial intelligence technologies are opening up to companies, but they are not all able to fully exploit them. This is according to Mario Rosati, Chief Executive Officer of E4 Analytics, Business Unit of E4 Computer Engineering.
With the recent rise in visibility of tools such as ChatGPT, the topic of artificial intelligence has also gained even more attention in business management. And it is no coincidence if we consider market analyses and forecasts: according to Fortune Business Insight, total artificial intelligence-related revenues reached $428 billion in 2022, with a prospect of exceeding $2 trillion by 2030, with an annual growth rate of 21.6%.
Italy also looks at AI
Italy continues to rank at the bottom of the list of countries with a high development index in this sector. However, there are very positive signs: the AI market has increased significantly since the pandemic, and according to data from the Politecnico di Milano, the value of the Italian market in 2022 was $500 million, with an annual growth rate of 32%.
While 60 per cent of large companies have already launched artificial intelligence projects, the percentage drops to 15 per cent for small and medium-sized companies, demonstrating the still untapped potential of this technology as a valuable support for business activities in every sector and for organisations of all sizes and industries.
Despite academic excellence such as the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE), at the entrepreneurial level Italy struggles to consider the implementation of artificial intelligence projects as an indispensable priority for the preservation, consolidation and development of companies. According to an analysis by Eurostat, only 20% of companies in the European Union use artificial intelligence, and this figure is even lower in Italy, at 6%.
What is being done to encourage AI?
One of the actions envisaged in the Artificial Intelligence strategic programme recently adopted by the Italian government is precisely to encourage the adoption of AI and its applications in the public administration, also by enhancing employees’ skills. Among the strategic proposals is the activation of three cycles of new PhD courses specifically designed for the needs of public administration in collaboration with the Ministry for Public Administration and in synergy with the National School of Administration. It is clear that there is a gap that needs to be filled in order to properly manage the enormous and growing amount of data in public administration and to have trained resources capable of tackling this task with awareness and the necessary skills.
The subject of the shortage of talent and specialised skills in IT is certainly not new. There are numerous initiatives aimed at disseminating, through training, the skills that are increasingly in demand in the world of work. However, it is also crucial to invest in specific initiatives for artificial intelligence solutions in order to extend their adoption effectively and independently in the public and private sectors.
The role of E4 Computer Engineering
Training plays a particularly important role in this context, and it is something that E4 Computer Engineering actively addresses through the E4 Academy. The aim is to stimulate the development of up-to-date digital skills among university students, facilitating their entry into the world of work and helping to reduce the gap that still separates Italy from other international economies. In addition, direct initiatives are underway with universities and research centres, such as the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Leonardo, iFAB and Cineca.
However, the role of the organisations themselves is crucial here: they must be able to identify which emerging technologies can have a real impact on business. This requires the ability to question the evolution of processes, with a perspective of continuous innovation. If the world of research is inherently dynamic, the same dynamism should extend to businesses, otherwise they run the risk of finding themselves at a competitive disadvantage in an increasingly fast-paced and global world. Position rents and barriers to entry are gradually losing their meaning. The most effective, perhaps the only, way to protect one’s business is to focus on innovation, exploring the most advanced technologies available to businesses, such as artificial intelligence.