• March 23, 2018

Growth in AI to be Led by Customer Service

Worldwide spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) systems will reach $19.1 billion in 2018, an increase of 54.2 percent over the amount spent in 2017, according to International Data Corporation's "Worldwide Semiannual Cognitive Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide." The firm also forecasts cognitive and AI spending to grow to $52.2 billion in 2021 and achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46.2 percent.

"Interest and awareness of AI is at a fever pitch. Every industry and every organization should be evaluating AI to see how it will affect their business processes and go-to-market efficiencies," said David Schubmehl, research director for cognitive and artificial intelligence systems at IDC, in a statement. "IDC has estimated that by 2019, 40 percent of digital transformation initiatives will use AI services, and by 2021, 75 percent of enterprise applications will use AI. From predictions, recommendations, and advice to automated customer service agents and intelligent process automation, AI is changing the face of how we interact with computer systems."

IDC also predicts that retail will overtake banking in 2018 to become the industry leader in terms of cognitive/AI spending. Retail firms will invest $3.4 billion this year on a range of AI use cases, including automated customer service agents, expert shopping advisors and product recommendations, and merchandising for omnichannel operations.

"Enterprise digital transformation strategies are increasingly including multiple cognitive/artificial intelligence use cases," said Marianne Daquila, research manager of customer insights and analysis at IDC, in a statement. "Business transformation is occurring across all industries as successful companies embrace the array and potential impact of these solutions. Automated customer service agents, increased public safety, preventative maintenance, reduction of fraud, and improved healthcare diagnosis are just the tip of the iceberg driving spend today. With double-digit year-over-year spending growth forecast, IDC expects to see an increase in general use cases, as well as a refinement of industry-specific use cases."

Leading the cognitive/AI use cases that will see the largest spending totals in 2018 are automated customer service agents ($2.4 billion) with significant investments from the retail and telecommunications industries. IDC also expects to see strong spending on sales process recommendation and automation ($1.45 billion), led by the retail and media industries.

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