Gartner has talked up the role artificial intelligence (AI) will play in driving growth of the global IT market, as it unveiled a mixed set of spending forecasts for the year ahead.
Global IT spending will rise 4.5 per cent to $3.68tn in 2018, the analyst predicted. That's up on the 3.8 per cent rise recorded in 2017 and 0.3 per cent increase logged in 2016.
Bright spots within that include enterprise software and devices, two categories Gartner forecasts will see spending hike by 9.5 per cent to $389bn and 5.6 per cent to $784bn, respectively.
Datacentre spending, however, will grow by a muted 0.6 per cent to $179bn, while comms services - the largest sub-segment of the market - will expand by a modest 2.4 per cent to $1.44tn, Gartner said.
In addition, Gartner is betting on total IT spending growth slowing to 2.7 per cent in 2019 as it warned of "looming uncertainty" in the market in the form of Brexit, currency fluctuations and possible global recession.
Despite this, businesses will continue to invest in IT, Gartner research vice president David Lovelock said, although he added that spending patterns will shift towards areas such as blockchain, IoT and AI.
Lovelock went onto to evangelise the growth opportunity around the latter of these technology areas, forecasting $2.9tn in new business value opportunities attributable to AI by 2021, as well as the ability to recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity.
"That business value is attributable to using AI to, for example, drive efficiency gains, create insights that personalise the customer experience, entice engagement and commerce, and aid in expanding revenue-generating opportunities as part of new business models driven by the insights from data," he said.
"Capturing the potential business value will require spending, especially when seeking the more near-term cost savings. Spending on AI for customer experience and revenue generation will likely benefit from AI being a force multiplier — the cost to implement will be exceeded by the positive network effects and resulting increase in revenue."
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