Disruptive technologies such as genAI are becoming increasingly important in the business world. This presents the upper midmarket segment with the challenge of not only understanding these technologies as a trend, but also applying them in practice in order to best increase efficiency and innovative capacity. Concerns that the barriers to entry are too high for SMEs are unfounded, says head of innovation at enomyc and author, Franz Wenzel. A certain amount of preparation and training is essential, however, a strategy for AI integration that has been worked out down to the last detail is not necessary from the get go. He is convinced that two factors are much more decisive: Understanding. And time.


To avoid misunderstandings: Of course, every company that works with AI needs a strategy for its integration. But especially at the beginning, it is crucial to give the technology - and the people who work with it - time to develop and become accepted. After all, recent breakthroughs in AI, which have enabled OpenAI's ChatGPT4, DALLE 3, Llama and Gemini to generate extraordinary text, images and even videos, have shown that AI has the potential to change the way we work: These technologies have already begun to fundamentally change the way businesses operate.

The first steps: understanding and integration

The introduction of generative AI in SMEs requires a two-pronged approach that promotes both understanding and realizing practical application.

  • Understanding and appreciation: To ensure that colleagues fully understand the benefits and risks of genAI, preliminary discussion workshops should be held to present and demonstrate the basic principles of using genAI. It is important to provide insights into a wide range of possible applications and to clearly explain the difference between company-specific and publicly accessible licenses models – placing particular emphasis on the risk associated with uploading confidential company or customer data to publicly accessible platforms. Without discouraging colleagues from making mistakes, it should be clear that public (free) platforms should not be used leisurely for internal work purposes. Following this, various easily accessible models can then be presented, so that an awareness is established that there is not one „best“ model for everything. Choosing the right tool, whether out of the box with Microsoft Copilot or OpenAI's ChatGPT Teams/Enterprise, or even self-hosting, is only part of the process.

  • Trial and error: Invite colleagues to experiment with genAI - for example, to achieve the most specific answers possible through prompt engineering training. Through this personal interaction, employees, for whom most of this might be new, can learn from their trials and errors by testing different formulations of the same question and seeing how the specificity and quality of the answers change the more specific the instruction is (first steps towards prompt engineering). Additionally, organize workshops and follow-up Q&A sessions to share these sorts of experiences and insights. By continuing to use it, the special characteristics of genAI will become visible to previously uninitiated users.

The power of adaptation

The fact that technology can be adapted and personalized is a key advantage of our modern digital society. Having a personal digital assistant available 24/7 to answer questions, give feedback on ideas and concepts, create concepts or the like is a significant step forward. This accessibility and adaptability makes AI particularly attractive for SMEs.

The example of genAI illustrates this capability particularly well. Initially, the range of functions and available models, applications and use cases was very limited. Over time however, through the integration of plugins, custom GPTs and endless options of task-specific tools via APIs has revolutionized this aspect.

No successful implementation without cultural change

The introduction of new technologies such as genAI, requires more than just technical adjustments. It requires and reinforces a comprehensive cultural change throughout the entire company:

  • Overcome fears: There is almost always a section of the workforce that is skeptical or has reservations about new technologies. The steps described above - presenting, involving and interacting with colleagues using the new technologies in a playful way - can counteract the fear of job loss or embarrassing incidents. At the same time, users can come to their own realization that genAI can take over repetitive tasks, expand their skills and give their creativity a new boost. This creates scope for new value-adding activities and inspiring experiences.

  • Promote collaboration: A supportive environment that encourages a willingness to collaborate and constructively participate in the introduction of genAI is critical to success. The more opportunities there are for exchange and feedback, the better. Internal competitions, in which the participant who generates the best image on a topic or concept wins. This can loosen up the integration and bring the team closer together. Fun, inclusivity and joint experimentation strengthen collective commitment and openness to new technologies.

  • Raise awareness of legal pitfalls: In addition, it is necessary to sufficiently raise awareness for employees on the do's and don'ts when using genAI - even if each case is very specific. In addition, it is advisable to draft an employee agreement for consent to responsible use and, last but not least, to include a clause in the company’s terms and conditions and add a note in the preface of each presentation, document or report in which the tech has been used/utilized. Transparency is after all one of the most important principles for responsible usage.

Once the company has established a basic understanding of how to cope amongst the teams, the focus begins to shift: The second step is to have the teams begin to define processes and select suitable tools that will assist with process X or Y in the future. It is essential that the teams selecting the tools, features and changes identify with them and that it does tie back into the overall strategy. Once this point has been reached, there is only one winner: everyone.

Implementation of genAI: measurable increase in company performance

As stated before, genAI can help companies optimize processes, improve customer experience, increase sales and gain a competitive advantage in their market segment through data-driven decisions.

The following examples illustrate how this can and is already being put into practice in various sectors:

Optimize production planning

In a manufacturing company, for example, genAI is being utilitzed to optimize production planning by analysing historical production data and forecasting future demand patterns. In this way, production bottlenecks can be predicted or inventory management automated. As a result, production runs can be planned more precisely, downtimes minimized and the overall efficiency of manufacturing processes improved. The ability of genAI to recognize seasonal fluctuations and trends in consumer behaviour can also improve demand planning and prevent overproduction.

Better customer service

In customer management, genAI can help to process customer service inquiries faster and more efficiently. By implementing custom chatbots that are equipped with genAI tech, such as natural language understanding (NLU) and machine learning (ML), frequently asked queries can be answered automatically and in real time. Shorter waiting times and precise responses to inquiries increase customer satisfaction. In addition, the analysis of customer data and interactions by AI enables the creation of offers and services that are precisely tailored to their needs and preferences. This strengthens customer loyalty.

Better availability and higher sales

GenAI also plays an important role in retail. Here, it can help to optimize stock levels and demand forecasts. By analyzing sales data, weather reports and social media, AI can make precise predictions about which products will be in demand and when. This helps retailers to manage their inventory efficiently, reduce overstocking and ensure that popular items are always in stock. Retailers can also use these tools to develop personalized marketing campaigns based on their customers' buying behavior and preferences. Such campaigns can help increase sales by targeting customers and making offers that match their interests.

AI in SMEs: Between strategic planning and collaborative experimentation

The use of genAI is about far more than just writing summaries, agendas, emails and reports faster and better. It opens up the whole world of automation for companies, the next level of data analytics – resulting in not only drastically greater efficiency, but also to boost untapped potentials for employees that perhaps were not yet being utilitzed.

However, SMEs that want to take the plunge should be aware that the introduction of AI is an ongoing process that requires strategic planning, adaptability and cultural change. Above all, this requires time at the beginning. Time to develop an understanding of the benefits, opportunities and risks among those involved, time for joint experimentation and time to experience the added value of collaboration. The key to success lies in being open to new technologies and at the same time promoting a culture that supports and drives innovation. Those who succeed in taking the workforce along on this journey will gain a powerful tool for innovation and growth.

If you would like to know more about how these technologies can improve your business model, or if you are interested in getting started, let us know! We will be happy to assist you.

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