Market watcher IDC says interest in cognitive computing and AI will see global spend reach $19.1bn (£13.5bn) in 2018, with retail overtaking banking as the primary sector driving growth.
IDC's research director of cognitive/AI David Schubmehl, said: "Interest and awareness of AI is at fever pitch. Every industry and every organisation should be evaluating AI to see how it will affect their business processes and go-to-market efficiencies."
Retail firms will invest $3.4bn this year on AI use cases, including automated customer service agents, expert shopping advisors and product recommendations, and merchandising for omni-channel operations.
Banking, meanwhile, will spend $3.3bn, largely on automated threat intelligence and prevention systems, fraud analysis and investigation, and programme advisors and recommendation systems.
Discrete manufacturing and health are the third and fourth-largest industries for AI spend.
IDC forecasts that across verticals, investment in AI will continue to grow, with 40 per cent of digital transformation initiatives using AI services by 2019 and 75 per cent of enterprise applications using AI by 2021.
The US will deliver more than three quarters of all spending on cognitive and AI systems in 2018, with western Europe being the second-largest region.
In the mid term, IDC predicts that Japan and China will see the strongest spending growth over the next five years at 73.5 and 68.2 per cent respectively.
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