The promise of edge computing

By | 3 minute read | June 24, 2020

By 2025, there will be an estimated 41.6 billion connected IoT devices or things generating about 79.4 zettabytes of data, according to the IDC.

With exponential growth of devices and data, there is a dire need for businesses to adopt edge computing to reduce the cost of data transfer and increase security, as well as gain a competitive advantage with real-time data insights to drive intelligent business workflows. Although edge computing is not new, advances in other emerging technologies like AI federated learning and the acceleration of 5G networks are rapidly expanding the opportunities to realize the benefits of edge computing.

For enterprises to successfully adopt an edge computing strategy, they must first adopt a hybrid multi-cloud strategy. This creates tremendous opportunities for new products, platforms and experiences in every industry. It makes digital operations and experiences richer for end users and creates greater business efficiency and output across manufacturing, supply chain, autonomous vehicles, asset management and more. This move towards the edge requires new levels of infrastructure transformation starting with the network virtualization, especially in today’s world where workloads are increasingly dynamic and many IoT applications require low latency to deliver real value. There are also significant implications to data center operations and the support of business applications that run at the edge.

How can edge can transform industries? Let us consider key industries where edge computing offers promise.

In manufacturing, edge computing will deliver the ‘smart factory’ with real-time insights driving ever increasing levels of automation. Edge computing allows us to unlock the dark data of machine-to-machine communication, so we can remediate risks well before the human eye can see them. Edge computing yields real-time anomaly detection which gives as much as 25% earlier insights into factory equipment health, enabling manufacturers to protect against costly failures and minimize downtime losses while maintaining production quality. With Visual and Cognitive AI delivered at the edge, manufacturers can reduce the cost of quality by as much as 30%. With IoT sensors and AI at the Edge, manufacturers can understand optimal production processes, and increase resiliency by empowering operators with real-time alerts and prescriptive remediation strategies that increase throughput. The result is significant cost savings, reduced energy consumption and waste, and a step towards advancement on the continuum to Industry 4.0. You can read more on this topic in a recent IISE article from IBM “AI technology changing the future by enabling Manufacturing 4.0.”

In banking, edge computing can reduce the risk to human safety and fraud in the branch environment. While all ATM branches have video today, the transfer of video over the network is costly and requires a focused human eye to monitor every camera. With edge computing, we can deploy AI models trained to detect suspicious behavior in real-time, and when an event is detected we can automatically shut off the ATM and alert law enforcement. In addition to increasing security, banks can also save money on data transfer because only the video clips identified as suspicious are sent to the cloud to assist law enforcement with prosecution.

Lastly, in telecommunications, edge computing enables telecommunication providers to proactively identify, prevent or resolve network incidents. Utilizing edge computing enables the integration of AI, analytics, and automation to provide predictive pattern analysis and cognitive learning. As Telecommunication providers address their role in the merging 5G Edge market, they must modernize their underlying network and play a greater role in orchestrating the rapid delivery of virtualized networks. In effect, the telecommunication provider becomes a virtual cloud provider delivering new services to consumers. This emerging market is why a hybrid, multi-cloud strategy is vital to enterprise adoption of edge computing.

Moving past the roadblocks

91% of organizations surveyed plan to implement edge computing within five years according to collaborative study conducted by Oxford Economics and IBM. These organizations aim to achieve responsiveness, energy efficiency, and business model innovation through edge-enabled applications and solutions.

With the promise of near-real-time insight and action, what prevents enterprises from going all-in on edge computing? Despite all the technological advances, enterprises don’t know what they don’t know. No technology should be used for technology’s sake. Enterprises are intrigued by edge computing, but what they need most is guidance on how to define its value proposition. That’s where IBM Services comes in.

Learn more about Edge Consulting Services

Watch how to re-imagine business operations with edge computing

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