Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, recently announced a new Economic Development Strategy which, he said, would enable small businesses in London to embrace new technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions that are available to larger organisations.
The new strategy will involve the setting up of a new online portal where small business owners will be able to learn about and take advantage of new AI solutions that will, in turn, help them in making their businesses more productive and competitive and to secure more customers in the future.
Latest AI solutions for small businesses a must
Mr Khan said that the idea behind the new strategy is "ensuring our small businesses have access to opportunities that corporates already take advantage of. Our great city is a global centre for innovation, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality and cybersecurity. Many large businesses are already adopting these technologies to aid productivity and competitiveness – and we must ensure that small businesses have the opportunity to access those same benefits."
"London has a burgeoning tech scene, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality and cybersecurity – and through our new tech initiative, we are determined to ensure that small businesses can tap into the benefits that these new technologies offer," he added.
"With 758 AI tech companies, London is one of the best places in the world for innovation BUT it can also be a complex landscape to navigate. Understanding the benefits of AI and then who to work with in order to safely adopt these new techniques is crucial. As such, I’m thrilled to see the Mayor of London is committed to democratising access to the information needed for small businesses to responsibly unlock the power of AI," said Tabitha Goldstaub, Co-Founder of the AI advice platform, CognitionX.
According to the Mayor of London's website, the new online portal for small businesses will launch in 2019 and will be available on the Growth Hub - a one-stop shop for all business support in London, in partnership between the Mayor and the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP).
Bid to enhance cyber-resilience of SMBs
Last year, an ESET research revealed that due to limited budgets, small businesses cannot afford the best-in-class cyber-security protocols nor are they able to provide regular cyber-awareness training to their employees.
"A large enterprise has a number of backstops and usually has a response ready when it happens. But a small organisation … the initial infection can probably lead to something more serious and greater," says Stephen Cobb, senior security researcher at ESET. The fact that smaller firms often act as vendors or suppliers to bigger firms exposes the latter to phishing attacks or data breaches.
A survey conducted by Duo Security in partnership with YouGov also revealed that almost 38% of small business owners did not intend to spend anything at all on cyber security to protect themselves from cyber threats and 30% of them allocated less than 3% of their overall budgets on cyber security products and services.
It remains to be seen if the Mayor's efforts will help London-based small businesses in adopting new machine learning and AI solutions that could significantly improve their threat-detection and response capabilities in future.
At present, the government is also offering a free Cyber Essentials scheme to help companies strengthen their IT systems, implement the latest cyber security practices and effectively handle and protect customer data.