Phase 2 of the project involves 30 organisations, ranging from a start-up with four employees to a DAX-listed corporation, testing the introduction of specific AI applications in what are known as “company laboratories”. They are guided and assisted by scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO and the Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management IAT of the University of Stuttgart. Based on the findings from the introduction process, practical guidelines for realising transformation projects are currently developed. By May 2022 an evaluation toolkit capable of measuring both the need for transformation and the success of its implementation will beput together. Both the guidelines and toolkit will be made available to other organisations.
Different companies, varied application scenarios
The application scenarios involved are just as diverse as the companies and sectors concerned. This is vital to the success of the project because it means the accumulated findings represent a wide variety of differing requirements. For example, Wichelhaus & Co, a company specialising in the development and construction of special-purpose machines, is currently working on software designed to analyse and optimise production and maintenance processes. The aim is to automate processes in a wide range of application areas, thereby maximising efficiency and economy.
A second example is Séissmo, a market research institute geared towards international qualitative research. Séissmo uses AI to process and analyse in-depth interviews as well as discussions and discourse online. This allows researchers with a social sciences background to evaluate large amounts of text swiftly.
Overarching themes derived from concrete cases
Because of the diverse range of companies cooperating in the project, the research team started by focusing on the question of which business units – irrespective of company size or sector – need to be involved in the introduction of AI applications and what structural issues have to be taken into consideration. The researchers concluded that four topics are relevant to all organisations:
- Qualification and skills management
- Organising and structuring work
- Participation and leadership
- Legal framework and ethical and social values
- Economic efficiency is just one criterion
Economic efficiency is just one criterion
The KI-ULTRA project has always aimed not just to look at the organisational, structural, cultural, and communicative transformation processes from an economic perspective but also to ensure a human-centric shift in the working environment in a manner that benefits the employees.
The project is being supported by the AI Observatory for a period of three years, which began in March 2021.