Medium and large enterprises are set to double their usage of machine learning by the end of 2018, according to a new report from professional services firm Deloitte.

The number of machine learning pilots and implementations will double by the end of 2018, and then will double from that number by the end of 2020, Deloitte’s report predicts. Businesses spent $17 billion on the technology in 2017, and that is expected to increase to $57.6 billion by 2021.

Deloitte identified five factors that have held back machine learning growth: Too few practitioners, high costs, tools are too young, confusing models, and business regulations.

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The estimated growth shows how as the technology evolves, buy-in from businesses may increase, whether they’re using it to improve workflows or create new products. If businesses opt to not adopt the technology, they may risk falling behind others.

The report looked at other emerging technologies, including augmented reality (AR). One billion smartphones will create AR content at least once in 2018, the report found, with 300 million using AR at least monthly. In what used to just mean an animated face filter on Snapchat or Instagram, AR will expand to other uses for mobile devices.

Last week, Apple named AR as one of its breakout app trends of 2017. Deloitte predicts direct revenues from AR on smartphones will hit $1 billion by 2020, growing tenfold from 2018. With the trend continuing to grow, developers and brands may need to find ways to integrate AR into an app to stay up-to-date and entertain users.

While Deloitte expects less than $100 million in discrete app revenues for AR content globally in 2018, it could drive sales in other ways. The ability to simply host AR content may be a key difference to consumers looking to switch or upgrade devices.

In good news for business travelers, the Deloitte report also found in-flight connectivity (IFC) will be up 20% in 2018. One-quarter of all airline passengers will fly on a plane with access to the internet. Business travelers will have a higher chance they will be able to connect in the air, enabling them to get more work done in transit.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Businesses will double their usage of machine learning by the end of 2018, a new Deloitte report found.
  2. So far, the technology has been held back by regulations, evolving tools, high costs, and few practitioners.
  3. The projected growth, expected to hit $57.6 billion in spending by 2021, shows how it is being increasingly utilized as a business tool. Those not currently planning on using machine learning in their business may need to reconsider, or risk being left behind.