Spending on artificial intelligence (AI) in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is poised to reach $290 million this year, rising to $530 million in 2022, according to technology research and consulting firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
IDC expects investment in AI across the region to grow 42.5% year-on-year in 2019 and continue increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2% over the 2019-2022 period.
The three industries in terms of AI investment in 2019 will be retail, banking and manufacturing. These industries will remain the top three through 2022, although spending by federal/central governments across MEA will see the strongest growth of the region’s top five verticals, increasing at a CAGR of 26.3%.
The three most popular use cases – automated customer service agents, automated threat intelligence and prevention systems and fraud analysis and investigation – will account for a combined 31.4% of AI investment across MEA in 2019. These use cases are expected to retain their positions throughout the forecast period, with spending on automated customer service agents growing the fastest at a CAGR of 25.8% to reach $66 million in 2022.
According to an extensive IDC survey conducted earlier this year among CIOs from across the Middle East, the top five drivers fuelling demand for AI systems are the desire to improve customer support, augment marketing activities, boost overall efficiency, enhance the quality of products and services and drive sales. Such benefits have become the hallmark of AI, as the technology advances and organisations wake up to its ground breaking potential to revolutionise the way they work.
“Spending on AI in the MEA region this year is set to almost double from where it stood in 2017, which reflects the huge growth in interest we have seen around this technology over the last 18 months,” says Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC’’s group vice president and managing director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. “Investments in artificial intelligence are being driven by the promise, opportunity and excitement of a new wave of automation that not only drives inefficiency out of processes but also changes how people interact with the digital world around them. Indeed, the use of AI-based automation and the changing relationship between employees and increasingly intelligent machines will drive opportunities to evaluate and enhance existing business processes in ways that have not been seen since the early 1990s.”