One doesn’t need to be a geek to understand that the IoT will produce a tectonic shift in the way we live, work, and run businesses. Many organizations today are either currently deploying or planning to deploy sensors or devices across their business operations; however, collecting, storing, integrating, and analyzing real-time data from various end-point devices is a key barrier to a successful IoT implementation. In fact, IoT will add tremendous complexity (networking, integration, data analysis, etc.) to existing IT infrastructure, a concern expressed by 60% of IT leaders.
In centralized computing infrastructures, there is a high risk that data will lose value during the few minutes it takes to be transmitted from hundreds or thousands of devices to the data center or cloud. Imagine if a driverless car had to wait for even a few milliseconds to talk to a distant data center in order to decide whether to run over a pedestrian crossing the road or stop just in time—the result could be disastrous. Companies need a platform for faster decision-making that can help reduce the back-and-forth traffic between devices and their data centers. That’s where edge computing unleashes the potential of connected hardware devices by decentralizing them. It puts computing resources closer to the data source, speeding up the analysis process and allowing businesses to act on insights more quickly.
The speed and agility benefits of edge computing are so great that 35% of IT leaders surveyed believe that by 2020, IoT-created data will be stored and acted upon close to the edge of the network rather than in their centralized data centers. We expect the following factors to drive interest in edge computing:
- Real-time or nothing. Real-time response is increasingly a business must-have. The inability to respond to consumers in real time could mean loss of business, while the absence of real-time functionality in industrial contexts poses serious safety issues. Real-time insights will be essential for improving organizations’ abilities to do business, generate value, make decisions, meet customer expectations, and get products and services to the market.
- The symbiotic relationship with cloud computing. We foresee the emergence of a strong relationship between cloud and edge computing, in which each will handle data for different computing tasks and data types, while simultaneously complementing each other. While edge computing will serve time-sensitive data for immediate intelligence within the device itself, the cloud will handle data intended for historical analysis.
However, building the infrastructure for edge computing will require an IT overhaul, and organizations will need a full-time specialist to help build this edge computing infrastructure. Consequently, new roles like the Master of Edge Computing (MoEC) will not take long to emerge within the enterprise IT. The MoEC will help overhaul the full-scale infrastructure to ensure the new technology seamlessly interacts with legacy systems, minimizes latency, and delivers the required business benefits. The person in this role will also be responsible for ensuring IT readiness for processing and analytics, operations, and communications protocols, as well as smoothing network functioning, sourcing uninterrupted supplies of power, monitoring cooling processes, and providing 24/7 monitoring and security access. You can review our vision for this new role in our most recent paper, 21 Jobs of the Future.
It is certain that the next decade of business advancement will be driven by edge computing, and IT leaders must get prepared. That said, I am keen to get your views on the future of edge computing.