Artificial intelligence spending grew 20.7 per cent worldwide in 2021

AI software captures the largest share of AI spending

Worldwide revenues for the artificial intelligence (AI) market, including software, hardware, and services for both AI centric and AI non-centric applications*, totalled $US383.3 billion in 2021, an increase of 20.7 per cent over the prior year, according to the most recent International Data Corporation Worldwide Semi-annual Artificial Intelligence Tracker. IDC expects the AI market value will reach nearly $US450 billion in 2022 and maintain a year-over-year growth rate in the high teens throughout the five-year forecast.

“Across all industries and functions, end-user organizations are discovering the benefits of AI technologies, as increasingly powerful AI solutions are enabling better decision-making and higher productivity,” said Rasmus Andsbjerg, associate vice president, Data & Analytics at IDC. “The reality is, AI offers solutions to everything we are facing at the moment. AI can be a source for fast-tracking digital transformation journeys, enable cost savings in times of staggering inflation rates and support automation efforts in times of labour shortages.”

AI Software again accounted for the largest share the overall AI market in 2021. Combined, the four AI Software categories – AI Applications Delivery & Deployment, AI Applications, AI System Infrastructure Software, and Artificial Intelligence Platforms – delivered more than $US340 billion in market value in 2021 with AI Applications representing nearly half the total. Artificial Intelligence Platforms delivered the strongest year-over-year growth at 36.6 per cent, albeit from a smaller baseline.

Within the AI Applications category, AI Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Applications and AI Enterprise Resource Management (ERM) Applications each delivered about 16 per cent of the category total. The remainder was delivered by the myriad of other AI Applications available in the market. With nearly 300 companies vying for opportunities to gain share, the AI Applications market remains highly competitive.

IDC’s AI Tracker also shows that AI centric applications, in which AI technologies are central and critical to the function of the application, continued to slowly grow its share of the AI Software market. In 2021, AI-centric applications captured 12.9 per cent of the market, up 29.3 per cent year over year. The remainder of the market was held by AI non-centric applications, where AI technologies are integral to certain workflows of the application, but if those technologies were removed, the application would still be able to function.

Similarly, the deployment of AI Software to the cloud continues to show steady growth. In 2021, 47.3 per cent of AI Software purchases were deployed to the public cloud, an increase of four percentage points over 2020 and 8.4 percentage points over 2019. IDC expects cloud deployment of newly purchased AI Software to surpass on premises deployments in 2022.

The AI Services market saw its total value increase 22.4 per cent year over year to $US24 billion in 2021. Client demand for expertise in developing production-grade AI solutions helped the AI IT Services category grow 21.9 per cent year over year to $US18.8 billion. The AI Business Services category grew 24.2 per cent year over year as organizations sought assistance on AI governance, business process, and talent strategies.

AI Hardware was both the smallest ($US18.8 billion) and fastest growing (38.9 per cent year over year growth) segment of the AI market. The hardware growth was driven by efforts to build dedicated AI systems capable of meeting the increased compute and storage demands of AI models and data sets. While both AI Servers and AI Storage delivered strong growth in 2021 – 39.1 per cent and 32.9 per cent respectively – server purchases were notably larger at $US15.6 billion.


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