2021 Will Be a Significant Year for Distributed Intelligence

ABI Research’s 2021 Trend Report identifies the 2 key Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning market trends that will deliver in 2021 – and the 1 that will not

Oyster Bay, New York - 23 Dec 2020

Distributed intelligence is an architecture that breaks computation workloads hosted in a centralized system into a combination of a central and end node. Edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) gateways and edge AI servers are the enablers of distributed intelligence, and the steep and steady rise of these gateways and servers takes off in 2021. Global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research forecasts the annual shipments of edge AI gateways and AI servers will grow from 8.55 million and 69,000 in 2020 to over 10 million and 105,000 in 2021 respectively. This significant 2021 growth will usher in the age of distributed intelligence over the next decade with annual shipments of edge AI gateways reaching 59.5 million and AI server shipments hitting 1.5 million in 2030.

In its new whitepaper, 68 Technology Trends That Will Shape 2021, ABI Research’s analysts identify 37 trends that will shape the technology market and 31 others that, although attracting huge amounts of speculation and commentary, are less likely to move the needle over the next twelve months. “For success in 2021, especially after a very challenging 2020, one must understand fundamental trends early, and take a view on those trends that are buoyed by hyperbole and those that are sure to be uncomfortable realities. Now is the time to double down on the right technology investment,” says Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer at ABI Research.

What Will Happen in 2021:

Distributed Computing Will Become Significant

“While distributed intelligence has greatly benefited from the design and implementation of various systems, such as cloud computing clusters, warehouse robots, and smart home systems, these systems are often limited by geographical factors, connectivity options, and the processing capabilities in end nodes. The emergence of 5G and AI is set to change these. Combining the high throughput, low latency, and massive IoT connectivity of 5G, with on-device inferencing capabilities of AI, 5G-enabled edge AI devices will have the flexibility to centralize all their workloads in the cloud or perform time-, latency-, and security-sensitive workloads at the edge,” explains Lian Jye Su, AI & Machine Learning Principal Analyst at ABI Research. This removes data privacy, safety, and security concerns, while allowing the overall system to update and optimize itself. “Expect major webscalers and chipset suppliers to align their products and solutions in 2021 to address demand for more distributed intelligence across both the consumer and the enterprise markets,” Su adds.

Market Players Will Zero in on Zero-Code Onboarding for Edge AI

“Edge AI deployment has been a challenge as there is a diverse range of edge AI chipsets, frameworks, and toolkits. Some players in the market are coming up with a zero- or low-code deployment platform. These platforms support zero-code web user interface-based deployment, cloud-based device monitoring, orchestration and management, alert management, and ML model performance monitoring and retraining.

Expect more startups and system integrators to focus on new offerings targeting zero-code onboarding,” Su says.

What Won’t Happen in 2021:

Explainable AI

“Deep learning-based AI remains a black box. Although cloud AI players, such as Google, H2O, and Element AI, have offered development tools and frameworks around explainable AI, AI built based on these solutions is not mature enough for mass commercialization. At the moment, most AI models are not designed for transparency, let alone explainability. Hence, do not expect explainable AI to become mainstream in 2021. Also, do not expect massive migration or switching either, because switching away from non-transparent deep learning models may not be an option for many companies,” Su explains.

For more trends that will – and won’t - happen in 2021, download the whitepaper, 68 Technology Trends that Will Shape 2021: Predictions for What Will and Will Not Happen in The Year Ahead

About ABI Research

ABI Research provides strategic guidance to visionaries, delivering actionable intelligence on the transformative technologies that are dramatically reshaping industries, economies, and workforces across the world. ABI Research's global team of analysts publish groundbreaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory firms, empowering our clients to stay ahead of their markets and their competitors.

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