Time for enterprises to seize advantage of the edge ecosystem

Time for enterprises to seize advantage of the edge ecosystem
Edge computing is powering the human-machine partnership between the drivers and engineers in F1 racing.

A barrier to edge adoption is knowing which aspects of your business you should be focus on to find the most value.

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The term ‘edge computing’ may not sound intuitive to most, but we are surrounded by this technology and rely on it more than we realise.

Typically, data is stored in data centres and the modern data centre excels at handling data. Today, data is no longer created, consumed, and stored solely in the traditional data centre, or even in the cloud. With data streaming in constantly from a variety of sources and locations within and outside of corporate infrastructure, organisations are tapping into the edge.

Simply put, the edge is everywhere. It is the unbounded and ephemeral place where the digital and physical worlds intersect and data is securely collected, generated, and processed to create new value.

With edge computing, organisations can unlock new and more efficient ways to operate and process data. Higher data loads can be anticipated amidst Singapore’s nation-wide digitalisation drive, and the edge can help to lower latencies and costs, facilitate better use of resources and improved security, as the bulk of the processing can be done locally without having to rely on (or transfer a huge amount of data to) a centralised location.

How the edge is powering industries around us

Edge computing fuels efficiency and transformation in our healthcare sector, from next-generation robotics in operating rooms to automated processing of patient-generated data and always-on connected medical devices. It helps governments optimise their military training and operations through data analytics, using drones for 3D site surveillance and mapping. In Singapore, it also powers autonomous robots that help with patrol and law enforcement in the country. All this is in line with the country’s Smart Nation vision.

Even in sports, we see this technology at play at our well-loved Formula 1 Grand Prix night races, which Singapore has played host to for nearly 15 years now. Behind the fast cars and the exhilarating race atmosphere, edge computing powers the seamless human-machine partnership between the drivers and engineers, with real-time data generated in the cars and at the trackside. Machine learning and analytics are constantly digging into that data and optimising the performance of every component in the car to get the best racing results possible.

In our day-to-day, edge computing enables our smart homes. With data processed in real-time on a localised network, it allows us to use our mobile phones to control our smart appliances and home entertainment systems without having to lift (more than) a finger.

A frequent pain point for businesses lies in the fragmented nature of the edge ecosystem. Understandably, a business' technical debt builds up over the years, leading to a diversity of type, location and ownership. Retrospective application leads to edge computing partitioned in application-specific, software stack-specific, data source-specific silos.

Andy Sim, Vice President and Managing Director, Singapore, Dell Technologies

What are the opportunities?

The opportunities for edge computing are extensive, and the key is to leverage edge computing to efficiently collect, store and correlate data in real-time to inform actions. How, then, can businesses navigate the edge meaningfully?

Markets and Markets reports that the edge computing market is set to grow from US$36.5 billion in 2021 to US$87.3 billion by 2026. However, the Dell Technologies 2020 Digital Transformation Index found that although 79.5% of Singapore businesses are investing in data management and analytics to some degree today, investment drops sharply for emerging technologies like AI.

The same study revealed that 'data overload and inability to extract insights from data' is the third-highest barrier to digital transformation according to decision makers in Singapore.

In the case of public sector industries and high-performance sport, data collection and analysis can often be abstract or unapproachable. In the enterprise ecosystem, we need to translate this more broadly.

The first step is to stop thinking edge computing is the solution to every business challenge. A recurring barrier to edge adoption is knowing which aspects of your business you should be instrumentalising to add the most value.

Oftentimes, the C-Suite may lack the technical understanding required to know how edge computing can help their business. In such situations, finding the right partners and vendors to step in and guide your business to a suitable solution is key.

Cutting through the noise

A frequent pain point for businesses lies in the fragmented nature of the edge ecosystem. Understandably, a business' technical debt builds up over the years, leading to a diversity of type, location and ownership. Retrospective application leads to edge computing partitioned in application-specific, software stack-specific, data source-specific silos.

In Singapore, many still consider machine learning, artificial intelligence and 5G as emerging technologies, so it's no wonder that enterprises need help with adoption. A new commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Dell Technologies, revealed that in Singapore, 40% of businesses are still considered “Data Novices” – meaning that they are overwhelmed by data volume and variety and lack the right skills and tech infrastructure to manage data efficiently.

The scale of innovation occurring 'at the edge' across every vertical is extraordinary. But with that speed comes a lack of clarity about how to channel it effectively. Businesses looking to capitalise on this should have a long-term vision and cohesive strategy to avoid more significant issues.

There is no quick fix or easy answer when it comes to implementing edge solutions. However, there are experts to advise on how to reap the potential rewards it offers. What is certain is that forward-thinking businesses will automate every business process imaginable using machine and deep learning algorithms deployed at the very edge of the network.

Business and IT management leaders who fail to recognise edge computing possibilities will soon find themselves lagging behind rivals. For a business to put itself in the driver’s seat, it must look at those already delivering meaningful results with edge solutions and ask for assistance from those who can help them navigate the ecosystem.

Andy Sim is Vice President and Managing Director, Singapore, Dell Technologies

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