IDC Japan published its findings and estimates for the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) investment by users in Japan over the next several years. There should be massive opportunities for investment there.

In 2016, Japanese users spent nearly 16 trillion yen, especially for assistance and quality control. IDC Japan estimated that the annual growth of Japanese investment in cognitive/AI systems (defined as technology that uses natural language processing and analysis to answer queries and make recommendations) will be growing an average of 73% per year through 2021, resulting in a market worth 250 trillion in 2021.

Mr. Manabe of IDC Japan qualified the statement by noting that Japanese corporations are unlikely to use AI for all aspects of business but more likely to use "soft" AI to supplement human work in limited areas of business. Japanese people tend to treasure face-to-face interaction in business. AI promoters may need to come up with creative ways to use and market AI systems.

Mr. Manabe also commented that a great barrier to the development of AI was ignorance. Japanese companies often have no idea what barriers there might be to integrating AI systems in their business.

Judicious marketing and informing will be key to spreading AI. This will be true especially for foreign sellers. They will need to be aware of the challenges of the cultural and business environment, but the opportunities are great, if IDC Japan's guesses are correct.

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