Mitja Trampuž, CEO of CREAPLUS and President of the AI4SI initiative at the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, moderated a panel discussion on Artificial Intelligence in the economic sector at the conference "Artificial Intelligence - an Advantage and an Opportunity for Slovenia" organised by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs on 6 November 2023 at Jable Castle.

The panel on AI in the economic sector featured Andreja Lampe (Head of the ICT Horizontal Network, Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Jernej Salecl (Director General, Directorate for Internationalisation, Entrepreneurship and Technology, Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport), Franc Bračun (Chief Data Officer and Executive Assistant to the Board of Directors, NLB Group), Jure Jeraj (Head of Big Data and AI, Result) and Gregor Jerkič (CEO, In516ht).

As Mitja Trampuž pointed out in his introduction, Artificial Intelligence is not a new thing. "We have been developing various building blocks such as machine learning, big data, neural networks ... for several decades. But today it has reached virtually every individual and organisation. Either AI is involved in what happens in our urban environment, public services, the production of goods, leisure activities ... just in case if we don't recognise the other: a huge number of the services provided by our smartphones, smartwatches and other wearable devices are AI-powered ... or it is the use of generative AI, which has already swept the world."

Artificial intelligence is rapidly entering every pore of the production process and relationships. Many people today do not dare to face all the opportunities and threats it brings.

Trampuž, who is considered one of the driving forces behind the introduction of artificial intelligence into Slovenian companies, is aware that it may be too early to think how artificial intelligence, together with robotics, will replace humans in creation and work, but one thing is certain: "Companies that master artificial intelligence will replaced those that are left behind in the introduction of artificial intelligence. And the people who know how to work with AI will replace those who do not master the tools of AI. The use of AI will be first a competitive advantage and then the basis for the survival of any market-oriented organisation."

In Slovenia, the last few years have already seen some interesting and successful projects to introduce AI into business processes.

"I can confirm this first-hand, as one of our subsidiaries, which is primarily involved in AI, is involved in a variety of projects, from defence to healthcare to transport, manufacturing and finance," said Trampuž.

Slovenia, like the EU as a whole, is lagging behind big players such as the US and China. But OECD data shows that Slovenia has made a much bigger leap in AI investment in the last two years than its competitors.

"Let's keep it that way," says Trampuž. "We are also seeing an increase in the number of higher education programmes that include AI topics. But we are still a few steps behind, and this is by no means untenable."

As the AI4SI guide on AI deployment for SMEs reveals, the key to deploying AI is for a company to start with the first projects in the first place. Deploying AI tools is extremely cost-effective in terms of returns and, in fact, the only real reason for not deploying them is lack of knowledge of the technologies and, above all, lack of knowledge of the potential impacts. It is therefore primarily a decision for senior management, especially as there are currently enough experts and reliable people on the market and inside organisations to cover the initial projects.

"More important than the level of investment and the scope of the projects is that we need to start now, regardless of the size and activity of the organisation," concluded Trampuž.

By taking small and steady steps, any organisation will be able to master the capabilities of AI in a couple of years and effectively implement them in its business, which is already being proven in the market.