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Gartner predicts AI will add $1.2tn to companies’ earnings in 2018

Gartner has forecast that artificial intelligence will create $1.2 trillion in economic value in 2018, up 70% on 2017

Gartner has forecast that artificial intelligence (AI) will generate $1.2tn worth of “business value” on a global scale in 2018.

The research and advisory firm also said this amounts to a 70% increase over 2017. It also states AI will be adding $3.9tn by 2022.

Gartner’s approach for its report, Forecast: The business value of artificial intelligence, worldwide, 2017-2025, was to total up three sources of so-called “business value”: customer experience, new revenue and cost reduction.

John-David Lovelock, a research vice-president at Gartner, said in a statement from the firm: “AI promises to be the most disruptive class of technology during the next 10 years due to advances in computational power, volume, velocity and variety of data, as well as advances in deep neural networks.”

He said the main source of “derived business value” will come initially from customer experience, closely followed by cost reduction “as organisations look for ways to use AI to increase process efficiency to improve decision making and automate more tasks.

“However, in 2021, new revenue will become the dominant source, as companies uncover business value in using AI to increase sales of existing products and services, as well as to discover opportunities for new products and services,” said Lovelock. “Thus, in the long run, the business value of AI will be about new revenue possibilities.”

In the shorter term, Gartner has given the use of “virtual agents” as an example of how companies and other organisations can reduce their labour costs by employing fewer call centre workers.

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The firm said the automation of decision making, using AI for things like translating voice to text, will increase as a source of economic value, from 2% now to 16% by 2022.

The McKinsey Global Institute’s 2017 discussion paper Artificial intelligence: the next digital frontier was somewhat less optimistic than Gartner, finding artificial intelligence adoption to be slight and experimental outside the technology sector, but it did point to rapidly growing investment in the field.

In only 12% of the use cases assayed by MGI was commercial use of AI to be found.

However, the discussion paper also said AI investment is accelerating, and amounted to between $26bn and $39bn in 2016, dominated by firms such as Google and Chinese search engine company Baidu. Venture capital, private equity and M&A funding in AI technologies had, McKinsey said, tripled since 2013, with 60% of investment in machine learning.

Meanwhile, at the start of 2018, the Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT Priorities survey found a dramatic increase in interest in AI and blockchain initiatives among IT systems buyers in the UK, as well as across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea).

Artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain jumped as priority areas. AI leapt from 8% to 18% as a priority area in the UK, and from 8% to 16% in Emea. Blockchain went from 3% to 6% as an investment priority area in the UK, and from 5% to 10% in the Emea region as a whole.

Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics

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