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AI pricing: how much does Artificial Intelligence cost?

date: 27 March 2024
reading time: 7 min

Curious about AI pricing? Costs can start as low as $5,000 for basic models and skyrocket beyond $500,000 for cutting-edge applications. This guide cuts through the complexity, giving you the nuts and bolts of AI costs - from initial development to ongoing maintenance - so you can budget effectively and make informed decisions.

Key takeaways

  • AI project costs are influenced by a variety of factors including development, hardware, data quality, feature complexity, and integration with existing systems, leading to costs that can range from $5,000 for simple models to over $500,000 for complex solutions.
  • The ongoing maintenance of AI systems encompasses updates, computational resources, training models, and compliance with regulations, which can be streamlined through cloud services and efficient management strategies.
  • The cost of AI can vary significantly depending on whether it’s developed in-house or by external experts, and a measured, lean approach to AI adoption can offer savings and long-term value, with ROI being measured by both tangible and intangible benefits.

What are the primary cost factors in an AI project?

Deciphering the complex facets of AI project costs can resemble solving a sophisticated algorithm. Various factors come into play, each contributing to the total artificial intelligence cost.

For instance, the development process and management of an AI project can significantly sway the cost, depending on the company size and type of AI solution chosen.

The costs associated with AI development include:

  • Necessary hardware (like GPUs) and licensing fees
  • Costs of data collection, preparation and cleaning
  • Wages for skilled AI engineers – expenses related to ongoing training for existing staff to stay updated with the latest AI technologies and methodologies
  • Cybersecurity measures
  • Integrating AI with existing systems may require additional expenses for cloud solutions, optimisation resources, or specialised hardware
  • Costs related to ensuring that AI practices comply with relevant regulations, ethical standards, and privacy laws.

The cost of AI software development increases relative to the range of features and capabilities provided. Therefore, the cost of implementing AI can range from a basic version to a more advanced, feature-rich option.

How much does it cost to start an AI project?

Venturing into the expansive realm of AI brings along its unique cost structure, including AI software development cost. Simple AI models can start around $5,000, while more complex ones utilising deep learning can scale from $50,000 to over $500,000.

The choice of AI app development company also influences the cost, with hourly rates varying based on the company’s size, expertise, and location.

Industry-specific AI projects also carry different price tags. For instance, healthcare applications can range from $20,000 to $50,000, while fintech applications may reach between $50,000 to $150,000 due to different requirements, complexity, and regulatory environments.

Moreover, upfront costs include investments in high-speed hardware and specialised software, with servers alone costing north of $10,000.

Integration with existing systems may incur additional costs, such as potential hardware upgrades and software compatibility challenges. If the quality and availability of data are lacking, costs can increase significantly due to additional time and resources needed to set up a a proper AI infrastructure.

AI Readiness Assessment Framework
AI Readiness Assessment Framework

How much does it cost to maintain AI systems?

The deployment of an AI solution marks just the beginning of your voyage. The next critical phase revolves around maintaining the AI systems, which involves AI technology updates.

This includes hardware and software updates, computational resources, and managing potential hardware failures that could lead to downtime and data loss. Industries like healthcare necessitate regular maintenance and adherence to regulations, which inflates the cost due to necessary security and compliance measures, such as HIPAA or GDPR.

There are regular expenses for training models, system maintenance, and periodic updates of hardware and software as technology progresses. The choice of on-premises hardware such as GPUs, ASICs, and TPUs, versus cloud-based hardware solutions, impacts the cost of integrating and maintaining AI systems.

By utilising cloud services like AWS and Microsoft Azure, companies can mitigate direct hardware acquisition and maintenance costs. Optimising the use of cloud resources and using spot instances can lead to significant savings on computational expenses.

Watch our IT Insights: InsurTalk about the state of generative AI with Danilo Raponi and Emenuele Colonnella from Generali.

Are there differences in cost between developing an AI solution in-house vs. hiring external experts?

The choice between developing an AI solution internally or employing external experts significantly influences the total cost of artificial intelligence.

Hiring AI experts such as data scientists, machine learning engineers, and software developers can be a substantial cost, with salaries in the United States averaging between $120k and $160k.

However, a significant barrier to AI project deployment is the lack of specialised AI skills, making talent acquisition a critical issue for many organisations.

Remote developers – like Future Processing, a company based in Poland with more than 23 years of experience in IT solution development – can offer a cost-effective alternative. By leveraging the expertise of companies like Future Processing, organisations can benefit from high-quality AI solutions at a more affordable price point.

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Is there a cost-effective way to test AI before fully investing?

Gradually exploring AI possibilities before fully committing can emerge as a cost-saving approach. Creating a data-driven culture of innovation and cost awareness within the development team can lead to cost-effective and high-quality AI solutions while keeping development cost in check.

  • Lean approaches and scalability in AI implementation lead to cost savings and mitigate the need for extensive rework as the project grows.
  • Choosing AI tools and frameworks with community support saves on development time and costs when compared to custom-built alternatives.
  • Agile methodologies in AI projects improve cost management and outcomes through early issue identification and resolution, aided by the use of efficient ai algorithms.
  • Outsourcing tasks like data labeling to specialised service providers can significantly reduce overall development costs.
  • Using modular, reusable components and adopting microservices architecture save development time and costs.
  • Additionally, utilising third party AI software can further streamline the process.

By creating a Proof of Concept (PoC) of your AI or ML product you verify the idea on an early stage of development.

If you are determined to implement AI in your company you should also read about:

How can ROI from AI investments be measured?

AI investments promise substantial returns, but the question remains: how can you effectively measure these returns? The answer lies in calculating the return on investment, helping businesses understand the economic value of AI projects.

The ROI can be calculated by comparing the cost of the AI project, including development and maintenance costs, with the resulting benefits. These benefits could include increased productivity, reduced operational costs, or increased sales resulting from improved customer experiences.

What problems can AI solve in business?

However, measuring ROI from AI investments isn’t just about monetary returns.

It’s also about strategic benefits, such as gaining a competitive advantage, improving decision-making processes, or enhancing innovation capabilities. Therefore, a comprehensive ROI analysis should consider both tangible and intangible benefits.

Summary: is AI expensive for business?

While the cost of implementing and maintaining an ai system can be high – given the costs tied to development, maintenance, and recruitment of skilled professionals – it’s worth noting that these costs can be managed effectively with strategic planning and efficient resource management.

However, the return on investment from AI projects can be substantial, considering the potential for increased productivity, improved decision-making, and enhanced customer experiences.

So if you’re looking for an AI/ML consultancy or searching for a trusted and experienced partner to launch your project – give us a call!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the primary cost factors in an AI project?

The primary cost factors in an AI project include development, hardware, software, data acquisition, personnel, and ongoing maintenance. These are key areas where the majority of expenses will be allocated.

How much does it cost to start an AI project?

Starting an AI project can cost anywhere from $5,000 for simple models to over $500,000 for complex ones, depending on the scope and complexity of the project.

Are there differences in cost between developing an AI solution in-house vs. hiring external experts?

Developing an AI solution in-house may initially appear more expensive due to salaries and benefits, while hiring external experts can offer access to a global talent pool and potentially lower costs. Consider the long-term benefits of each option.

How can ROI from AI investments be measured?

To measure ROI from AI investments, calculate the project’s cost and compare it with the resulting benefits, including development and maintenance costs. This will give you a clear understanding of the return on investment.

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