LONDON – Investment and spending in artificial intelligence systems will reach $5.2 billion across Europe in 2019, an increase of 49% over 2018, according to a new report by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

AI adoption is growing at an unprecedented rate across European markets, with 34% of enterprises in Europe now leaving the proof-of-concept (POC) stage and moving onto real-world implementation of these radical automation technologies, according to the IDC European Vertical Markets Survey 2018-2019. In fact, IDC’s estimates show that European spending in AI will reach $13.5 billion by 2022.

“Many European retailers, such as Sephora, ASOS, and Zara, as well as banks such as Natwest and HSBC, are already experiencing the benefits of AI – including increased store visits, higher revenues, reduced costs, and more pleasant and personalised customer journeys. Industry-specific use cases related to automation of processes are becoming mainstream and the focus is set to shift toward next-generation use of AI for personalization or predictive purposes,” said Andrea Minonne, senior research analyst, IDC Customer Insight & Analysis in Europe.

The report goes on to reveal further insights into the AI market in Europe, including that by 2022, healthcare will be the fastest growing industry for AI investments. This cross-industry is, IDC claim, linked to a number of extensive investment programmes from European governments. The European Commission’s ‘Horizon 2020’ innovation programme will see €1.5 billion of investment in AI research centers across Europe through to 2020. AI adoption across Europe will also be spurred by the UK’s £1 billion AI Sector Deal, as well as the French government’s plans for €1.5 billion of public funding in AI by 2022.

Reacting to the report, Matt Hooper, SVP at customer communications firm IMImobile, told AI Business:

“It’s encouraging to see automation and customer experience driving increased investment in AI. Automation is key to achieving significant operaitonal efficiencies and delivering proactive, end-to-end customer communication – yet most companies are only touching the tip of the iceberg.”

“For companies to fully realise the benefits of automation and AI, they need to build and have visibility into the end-to-end customer journey. Only then can they drive proactive two-way customer communication.”