Cary, N.C.-based SAS Institute Inc. announced on Monday it plans to invest $1 billion in artificial intelligence (AI) over the next three years.

The privately-owned analytics firm, which has operated a Canadian headquarters out of Toronto since 1988, plans to funnel that money into software development, advanced analytics, machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing and computer vision. In a press release, SAS says that R&D will focus on making AI more accessible to business experts as well as data scientists. It also highlights its partnerships with technology vendors and consultant firms Accenture, Cisco, Deloitte, Intel, and Nvidia.

Baking AI into its analytics software suite was a major focus at the 2018 SAS Global Forum. With this investment, SAS continues that effort.

SAS isn’t the only software vendor driving home the message that AI is being integrated into its core products. Waterloo, Ont.-based OpenText has developed its own AI platform, Magellan, which it is working to integrate into its core ERP products as well as more recently-acquired products. San Francisco-based Salesforce is another example, with its Einstein engine being integrated across its cloud suite starting 2016.

SAS says support for implementing AI will also come in the form of customer education. Its new AI Accelerator Program is part of the effort to empower business users to harness AI, as is its SAS Certified Professional in AI and Machine Learning online program. Its SAS Analytics Centre of Excellence staffs PhDs to help customers implement AI too.

SAS didn’t mention any target headcount for hiring with the new money. But it does say that it plans to “augment its AI expertise” by adding resources to its Professional Services, Centers of Excellence, Education, and R&D departments.

More details about SAS’s new investment will be shared by Chief Technology Officer Oliver Schabenberger at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference in San Jose on March 19 during a keynote address.

ITWC has asked what portion of the funding is destined for Canada and will update this story as we receive more details.