(180627) -- SHANGHAI, June 27, 2018 (Xinhua) -- A staff member shows remote control with 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies during the Mobile World Conference Shanghai (MWCS) 2018 in east China's Shanghai, June 27, 2018. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe) (lmm)
CAPE TOWN - At least 80 percent of domestic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that they will need to invest in automation or other advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing and robotics over the next three to five years in order to remain competitive. 

This is according to the 2018 Business Partners Limited SME index, which also found that 67 percent of the SME owners surveyed in this year’s first quarter felt that the evolution of such technology had not yet contributed to the growth of their businesses. 

Business Partners regional general manager, Jeremy Lang, said it was undeniable that the Fourth Industrial Revolution had already started to take the world by storm.

“Technologies such as AI are becoming more of a common feature in society and in the business realm. As such, it is imperative for local SMEs to strategize as to how they can start to incorporate these technologies in their businesses moving forward and benefit from them.” 

Lang said despite the talk around how AI might jeopardise jobs, not only in South Africa but globally, it was important to note that during the development of the previous three industrial revolutions many jobs evolved into new positions. 

“This is supported by a recent report by Gartner which states that by 2020, AI will generate 2.3 million jobs, exceeding the 1.8 million that it will wipe out.” On the risk of cyberattacks, Lang said AI tools could be used to protect data from hackers by using machine learning to detect threats and unusual behaviour.