Artificial intelligence, Italy in the top ten of research. But businesses are at the stake

Our country is among the most advanced in the world, with 45 thousand scientific papers published in five years. At the top China and the USA. But only 6% of Italian companies use AI systems to develop their business 26 Jul 2022 Veronica Balocco

In the last five years, the ten countries in the world most active in artificial intelligence research have produced over 1.1 million scientific papers on the subject: 318 thousand China, 275 thousand the United States and 45 thousand Italy, which is in the top ten, in ninth place, in this special ranking. Numbers are the result of technological progress that continues to accelerate at a very fast pace. In short, artificial intelligence continues to evolve and become more sophisticated. Not only are AI models multiplying, but its applications are also growing and new services based on this technology are being born every day. Many of these services are dedicated to businesses, such as virtual assistants. And as a result, the application of AI within companies of all sizes is also increasing: from multinationals to SMEs. Despite this, the penetration of AI-based services within enterprises is proceeding at a much slower pace. How come? To make the point is Gianluca Maruzzella, co-founder & CEO of, who explains that, according to an analysis by Eurostat, within the European Union only two out of ten companies use artificial intelligence: in Italy the figure drops to 6%. But it must be considered that ours is a market that has very strong potential: think that Assintel has recently estimated that it will reach 1.4 billion euros at the end of next year, from 860 million euros in 2021, with a growth of + 40% over the three-year period. Index of topics • The node of digital skills in the company • Portrait of the data scientist of tomorrow The node of digital skills in the company This photograph gives a double image: on the one hand a market in turmoil, on the other an evident problematic in the grounding by companies, probably linked to the understandable difficulty of keeping up with the rapid evolution that characterizes this technology. "Companies must be able to clearly understand what kind of service and advantages they can obtain to decide to invest and apply it in the company – points out Maruzzella -. But often, this is a type of information they don't have access to. In fact, if those who are experts in artificial intelligence can understand on the fly the advantages and potential of the application of AI in companies, for example, streamline processes, help executives make data-driven decisions, increase organizational efficiency, improve the relationship and communication with customers and users, optimize warehouse management, automate standardized processes by freeing up resources for other projects, it is also true that in companies, today, especially in Italy, there is a lack of professional figures who can reap these advantages. In short, the so-called data scientists are missing". "Then there are artificial intelligence services, like ours, that allow companies to "overcome" this professional gap and for example to create a virtual assistant in an extremely simple and understandable way even for those who do not chew anything or almost nothing of technology, information technology, big data and AI – continues the CEO of -. But he understood that a service of this type can benefit his business". Portrait of the data scientist of tomorrow According to the Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, in 2021 the number of data scientists grew by 28% compared to the previous year. However, this is not a homogeneous progression since it concerns only large companies and in particular those that had already started investing in the past. 49% of large companies have at least one data scientist and 59% at least one data engineer. But in small and medium-sized enterprises, in most cases, these figures are missing. "As operators in the sector, we at can say that it is only a matter of time – maruzzella points out -: the acceleration of the market and the increase in experimentation require new skills that are currently in training. In fact, university courses specifically dedicated to training this type of professionals who will soon be introduced into the world of work are also increasing in Italy, perhaps not fast enough. These figures will be able to evaluate which services based on artificial intelligence can bring benefits in their company, of whatever size it is and in any production sector. After all, AI is a real commodity at the service of companies and perhaps for this reason, at times, it is difficult to understand, because it is not a product specifically suitable for solving a single need, but a customizable tool potentially able to solve them all". "The future data scientist – concludes the CEO – will be able to understand that artificial intelligence is like electricity. Pervasive, ubiquitous in our lives, yet most of us are unable to explain exactly what it is and how it works, even if we use it every day. And this, this transparency, this immediacy, is precisely the beauty of a technology that knows how to be truly at the service of companies and people".