Empowering SMEs with Artificial Intelligence

Guide to harnessing the potential of AI for small and medium-sized enterprises.


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The guide for SMEs offers step-by-step guidance on how to use AI solutions to develop and grow your business, including internal process improvement, innovation, and product and service development.

The guide provides:

  • examples of AI solutions and company experiences
  • knowledge and understanding of AI
  • tools to support companies’ adoption of AI.

AI journey shared with more than 100 Finnish companies

In the guide, you will find information on AI application areas, case studies and AI experiences of other companies that you can identify with and draw inspiration from.

The experts’ views on AI will support the mapping of the company’s current situation and the structuring of the overall approach to AI. Concrete tools for SMEs help take the first steps with AI. The guide provides inspiration for entrepreneurs, business consultants, experts and researchers.

Empowering SMEs with Artificial Intelligence guide is based on the knowledge and results of the AI-TIE – AI Technology Innovation Ecosystems for Competitiveness of SMEs (2021-2023) and its AI-TIE Southern Finland sister project (2022-2023), and an AI journey shared with more than 100 Finnish companies.

The projects, coordinated by Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and implemented together with Laurea University of Applied Sciences, were funded by European Regional Development Fund (REACT-EU) and Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council. The AI-TIE Southern Finland project was also funded by Kymenlaakso Regional Council.

For more information on AI-TIE: aistories.fi



How did this guide come about? 

Who is this guide for and how can it be used? 

Artificial intelligence in today’s SMEs  

Your AI story starts here: AI-TIE leads you to the benefits of AI 

1. Explore the benefits of AI for SMEs and build your competence and understanding  

  • Benefits of AI for SMEs  
  • Significance of AI in customer work   
  • AI improves the efficiency of a company’s operations  
  • AI in service and product development 
  • Where can I learn about AI?  
  • AI stories from SMEs 

2. Start with your business needs

  • Identifying external business needs  
  • Identifying internal business needs 
  • Selecting a development area 
  • Developing an AI use case   
  • Ethical issues related to developing an AI use case  

3. Turn your data into a valuable resource

  • Data quality is key 
  • Data volume depends on the application 
  • The most common pitfalls: data siloing and quality problems  
  • Data sources 
  • Data ownership and potential obstacles to its use 

4. Understand your company’s IT and technology capabilities 

  • Digitalisation of business processes  
  • Basic requirements for deploying an AI solution  
  • How to get started when making technology procurements?  
  • What AI solutions are available?  

5. Ensure that people, processes and technologies work together 

Commitment by the company and its management is important for successful AI deployment 

  • Implementation of an AI development project  
  • Resources for AI deployment in an SME 
  • AI deployment is based on teamwork between IT and business  
  • Participative leadership from start to finish 
  • A successful journey towards change and its implementation  
  • Creativity and artistic-style communal working methods support  the change brought about by AI deployment 

Deploying AI: Empowering SMEs with Artificial Intelligence  implementation model  

Tools to support AI deployment   

The future of artificial intelligence in SMEs in 2030 

FAQs about AI for SMEs 

Publications relevant to the theme

Download the guide

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Publication details

Title: Empowering SMEs with Artificial Intelligence. Guide to harnessing the potential of AI for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Edited by Anna Lahtinen and Iris Humala.

Copy-editors: Martti Asikainen and Hannu Vahtera.

Graphic design: Timangi Visual Design Agency.

Haaga-Helia publications 10/2023

ISBN 978-952-7474-44-0

ISSN 2342-2939

Helsinki, 2023

Permanent online address of the guide: https://www.haaga-helia.fi/en/ai-tie

Senior Researcher
Senior Researcher, Entrepreneurship and Business Renewal
+358 294471253