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"Artificial intelligence is a game changer for SMEs"

Reading Time: 5 Minutes 18.04.2024 Currents & Trends

Gunnar Schug, Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer at proALPHA, explains his visions and plans for the future

As Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO) of proALPHA, Gunnar Schug oversees an important future domain. His goal is to combine and harmonize all corporate data from various divisions and subsidiaries. All of this for the customers of proALPHA. In this interview, he explains how exactly this works.

Hello Gunnar, as CAIO of proALPHA, how do you see the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the development and implementation of business strategies, especially in the mid-market? 

Artificial intelligence is indeed a game changer for SMEs. The need to enter the AI world is undisputed, but many companies and managers don't know how to take the first step. Properly implementing AI is often not rocket science. We want to make it easier for our customers to get started with AI by providing specific use cases – for example, by demonstrating potential cost savings using their own data. This way, customers can see for themselves what AI can mean for their own business. 

How exactly does this work?

We showcase specific use cases to demonstrate that AI fits into everyday work life. AI enables companies to make data-driven decisions that are not only reactive but also contain predictive elements to proactively address market trends and customer needs. The goal of proALPHA AI is to support companies in establishing a fully integrated, data-driven decision-making culture. 

"Our AI can simply do that better"

The proALPHA Group has recently developed more than 20 new AI use cases. Can you give an example and explain how it can be directly integrated into the value-added chain of proALPHA customers?

One use case that consistently sparks the interest of our customers is the optimization of replenishment times. By analyzing past purchase orders and shipments, we calculate the average replenishment times to identify trends or patterns and create forecasts that support customers in planning. We verify whether the replenishment times of thousands of parts stored in the system are still current and accurate. In reality, this is often not the case. We determine the best time for reordering, taking into account the forecasts, uncertainties and other relevant factors such as production and supplier data. It's almost impossible for a human to determine the correct replenishment times in this way. Our AI can simply do it better. 



Do you have another example?

Sure, another use case that looks into the future is demand forecasting based on which customers can revolutionize their inventory management, purchase orders, and overall inventory control. Accurate demand forecasts can help the planning department to avoid excess inventory, which might tie up capital and incur additional storage costs.  Consumption forecasts also assist in determining appropriate safety stock levels. Customers can thus manage their inventories, purchase orders and MRP on the basis of reliable forecasts made by proALPHA AI.

Both use cases are seamlessly integrated into the proALPHA ERP systems and thus directly support the operational and strategic decisions of our customers. Moreover, we already have first use cases that go beyond ERP, for example in the fields of MES and production optimization. Use cases for all best-of-breed solutions within the proALPHA Group are planned for the future.  

"proALPHA AI is the link between ERP and the ERP+ world"

Focusing on a data-driven decision-making culture, how does proALPHA AI help businesses not only react to changes, but also act proactively and seize opportunities in advance? 

As I said at the beginning, our goal is to support companies in establishing a fully integrated, data-driven decision-making culture. The mentioned use case of consumption forecasts is just one example of how companies can plan ahead in various areas of their business. What makes proALPHA AI stand out is that it not only incorporates all the ERP expertise into the development of use cases, but also the know-how from the best-of-breed solutions of the group companies. This enables us to develop AI use cases tailored to all areas of the business, which support companies in holistic data-driven and predictive corporate management. 

"proALPHA AI serves as an intelligent and smart data warehouse and integration hub for all solutions."

Gunnar Schug, CAIO bei proALPHA

Gunnar Schug


You repeatedly emphasize the importance of customer orientation and dialog with partners. How does this dialog take shape in concrete terms, and to what extent do the insights from it influence the further development of proALPHA software solutions? 

The dialog with our customers is essential for the continuous improvement of our AI offering. Our entire AI development is agile. We rely on short release cycles. This way, we can implement new features and use cases requested by customers on short notice. We are close to our customers and regularly exchange ideas about the use cases. In the meantime, a community has developed in which we actively seek feedback on the new features. This way, we ensure that the voice of our customers is always heard. 

Finally, how do you plan to ensure the future viability and growth potential of proALPHA AI, and what role do cloud availability and continuous expansion of functionality play in this?

proALPHA AI is the link between ERP and the ERP+ world with all best-of-breed solutions. proALPHA AI serves as an intelligent and smart data warehouse and integration hub for all solutions. This provides an almost endless and continuously increasing array of possible use cases that can be utilized both within specific areas and across sectors. Synergies between the individual divisions are already in the pipeline. For example, we have already built MES use cases that work for tisoware MES as well as Böhme & Weihs MES. 

Thank you for your time!


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