Companies in Germany are increasingly concerned about losing touch with their digital competition, according to a recent survey by the Bitkom industry association. The survey found that 87% of companies fear falling behind their competitors in terms of digitization, compared to 53% a year ago. Additionally, 64% of companies consider themselves to be latecomers to digitization.
The survey also revealed that ChatGPT, a language model capable of generating human-like text, has sparked discussions in three-quarters of the companies. This indicates that companies are recognizing the potential impact of this technology on their operations.
Bitkom President Dr. Ralph Wintergerst stated that although digitization in Germany is not yet at an ideal level, it is not entirely negative either. Wintergerst pointed out that companies may be hesitant to embrace digital technologies due to factors such as a lack of skilled workers, financial resources, and concerns about data protection. In fact, 77% of companies surveyed identified data protection as an obstacle to digital transformation, an increase from the previous year.
Bitkom expressed concerns that if Germany does not make greater efforts to embrace digital technologies, more activities may be relocated to other countries with more favorable regulations and specialized talent pools. Wintergerst emphasized the need for education and urged Germany to become a leading nation in digital transformation.
The survey also highlighted conflicting opinions on artificial intelligence (AI) among companies. While 72% of companies recognize the importance of AI for competitiveness, only 15% currently use it, and only 1% plan to implement it in the coming year. Wintergerst attributed this conflict to a lack of understanding and strategy around digitization.
In terms of ChatGPT and similar applications, opinions varied among companies. While 54% believed that these applications would fundamentally change society, 44% disagreed. Furthermore, 37% of companies reported downsizing as a result of these systems, while 59% did not. Similar disparities were observed regarding new business models utilizing language systems.
Looking ahead, 40% of companies stated that AI will only play a significant role in their company in more than 20 years. Wintergerst acknowledged that the timeframe for AI adoption depends on the specific application and its purpose within a company. However, he emphasized the potential of AI to improve predictions and enhance basic IT.
Despite the challenges and uncertainties surrounding digitization and AI implementation, Wintergerst highlighted the significant potential that these technologies offer. He noted that there are already promising developments in areas such as finance and mechanical engineering. However, companies must navigate the changing landscape of customer expectations and data management.
To address concerns about data protection and uncertainties surrounding generative language models like ChatGPT, companies have called for a stricter legal framework. The recently proposed AI law by the EU Parliament aims to address these issues.
Overall, the survey results indicate that companies in Germany recognize the importance of digitization and AI but face challenges in implementation. Efforts to address these challenges through education and a clear legal framework are crucial to ensure that Germany remains competitive in the digital age.