The dynamics of the economy have changed quickly over the past few months owing to the circumstances created by the pandemic. As businesses commence their digital transformation journeys to increase productivity and reduce costs, the explosive growth and increased adoption of connected devices have resulted in a big data explosion. The production of this volume of data will continue to surge with the adoption of AI and IoT devices as well as with the emerging 5G networks.
Also happening concurrently, data-driven innovations such as the Internet-of-Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) and Blockchain are becoming widely adopted in the technology landscape. As part of their efforts to digitally transform their businesses, Organisations are now making effort to understand how to integrate these emerging technologies into their transformation strategies.
It is critical to consider how and where these technologies overlap or can be used in conjunction with one another to achieve desired business results. For instance, integrating AI and IoT, also referred to as the Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), offers capabilities and outcomes that may not be realised by the individual adoption of either technology. AIoT allows networks of connected devices to accumulate huge amounts of data from the physical world, and utilising the programmable intelligence capability, the devices can learn to reason and process the data to provide information and insights, then make educated decisions based on the data just like humans.
The link between the physical and digital world
When the physical and digital worlds intersect, this is called the ‘Edge’. It is at this point where that data is generated, accumulated, and processed to create new value. The Edge presents new challenges to the way the IT industry approaches computing. As organisations depend on traditional data centers and cloud computing to process data generated outside of data centers, the growing need to derive real-time value at the point of data generation requires that computing resources are present at the Edge. This has led to the emergence of Edge Computing.
By facilitating & accelerating the discovery of insights from data and the digitization of vital business processes, Edge Computing drives value for organisations. It also gives businesses the opportunity to redefine their customer’s experiences.
Edge Computing drives business intelligence by serving as the engine that brings intelligence closer to the data source (interconnected devices) through Artificial Intelligence of Things (AI plus IoT). One of the expected benefits of Edge computing is that compute platforms at the “Edge” provide lightweight designs that can be deployed successfully despite connectivity, environmental, power and spatial constrictions. These designs can be utilised to support applications that require speedy insights to be deduced in real-time. Organisational strategies for adopting Edge Computing are likely to differ greatly in the near future, with no two deployments being the same.
Defining Edge and its impact
Defining the Edge in the context of business outcomes will provide a higher level of clarity. For instance, wind farmers who want to track the health of windmills will yield benefits from the Edge much differently than the dairy farmer who need to keep an eye on the health of cows. Although the use cases are similar, subtle variances around ‘what’ is being observed will influence how the technology deployments are made, the data architectures, choice of platform, data processing and security at the Edge. Like most adoption of emerging technologies, deploying at the Edge should have measurable milestones and quick wins on the success journey.
Thus, organisations need solutions that will support the entire lifecycle management of their data through a network of systems that scale at the Edge and span on-prem and off-prem clouds. It is essential to consider that costs are sustained when capturing, analysing and extracting valuable insights from unexploited data sources. Organisations will also need solutions that are designed to address the operational and physical constrictions that define their “Edge”.
In conclusion, the Edge is now being integrated with technologies like AI, IoT, and 5G, which yields added value to business outcomes. Taking advantage of the value of data insights with edge computing will not only lessen workloads, but simultaneously enhance their networks and services to offer flexible offerings to customers. As we progress in the new era of data, there will be increased dependence on the internet- connected devices, thus making Edge a key ingredient for businesses to excel in the competitive landscape.
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Olamide is a technology consultant with cognate experience providing digital transformation services for small and large-scale clients globally. With a focus on emerging technologies like IoT, Extended Reality, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, he has spent three years developing numerous articles on these knowledge areas for different platforms online and offline.
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