AI Maturity: supporting SMEs in realising their AI goals

12 / 10 / 2023

The experiments of the third and final call from EUHubs4Data are ongoing; amongst the many benefits being provided to SMEs throughout the EU, one of them is the Big Data and AI Maturity Assessment framework, developed by CeADAR, Ireland’s National Centre for Applied AI, to evaluate the impact of the use of the federated services catalogue served by each Digital Innovation Hub (DIH).

CeADAR has developed a lightweight maturity model framework to assess the big data and AI capabilities of the SMEs involved in the experiments.

In the context of EUHubs4Data, each experiment is proposed by an SME and involves 2 or more DIHs to collaborate with each of them and make use of the project’s federated catalogue of data-driven services and datasets to advance the development of innovative products or services. Both the EUH4D partners and the SMEs can track the maturity of SMEs in terms of the application of big data and AI technology before and after the experiment. Through the maturity assessment framework developed for EUHubs4Data, the SMEs can track their journey towards fulfilling their organizational goals with respect to the adoption of AI processes and tools. Such frameworks support the European Commission’s Digital Decade policy program in its goal of transforming businesses in Europe through digital means.

The maturity model framework comprises a questionnaire, where a total of 15 questions have been formulated across two main aspects: Business aspects & Technology aspects. The answer to each question corresponds to a level of maturity across five stages. These stages are explained briefly below:

  • Novice (1): The novice level indicates that the organization has not embarked on a journey towards the adoption of Big Data & AI or is currently exploring its potential benefits but without the right strategy, processes, infrastructure or talent in place.
  • Experimenter (2): The experimenter level indicates that the organization has begun exploring and realising the value brought by Big Data, AI and analytics. There is an informal adoption of AI and Big Data tools or technologies at an individual level. However, it is not yet an integral part of the strategy.
  • Practitioner (3): The organization has actively adopted the use of Big Data & AI tools and technologies in their day-to-day tasks, across multiple business units but not across the board. Some protocols and processes are being implemented, and it is becoming a part of the strategy.
  • Professional (4):  The organisation has all the tools, processes, infrastructure, data and talent in place to realise the benefits of Big Data & AI and is an integral part of their work across all business units.
  • Shaper (5): Data is at the heart of everything the organisation does. All processes, business decisions and outcomes are data-driven. Big Data, AI & Analytics are the value offerings for its customers. Through its state-of-the-art work in AI, the organisation shapes the industry and is a model for others to follow.

The AI Maturity framework is a great way to help companies develop and focus their AI initiatives.

According to the level of maturity achieved, the SME can work towards improving their AI adoption tools or policies across the relevant dimensions. This framework also includes a set of recommendations to each SME across the different aspects and dimensions on how they can progress to the next level. These recommendations are based on several factors, including hiring and retention strategies, process improvement, AI tool adoption, infrastructure, training, upskilling, governance and compliance.

After an SME completes the questionnaire, a report is sent outlining the level of maturity, how their maturity has evolved after the experiment is completed and how they can further improve through the recommendations across each dimension. An example of such a report is shown in Fig 1.

To summarize, the Big Data & AI Maturity framework is a great way to help companies develop and focus their AI initiatives. CeADAR also offers a comprehensive AI Maturity Assessment service for their member companies. To learn more about CeADAR, visit