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Contributing Writer

Edge computing is in most industries’ future

Apr 23, 20193 mins
Data Center

Nearly every industry can take advantage of edge computing in the journey to speed digital transformation efforts

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The growth of edge computing is about to take a huge leap. Right now, companies are generating about 10% of their data outside a traditional data center or cloud. But within the next six years, that will increase to 75%, according to Gartner.

That’s largely down to the need to process data emanating from devices, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. Early adopters include:

  • Manufacturers: Devices and sensors seem endemic to this industry, so it’s no surprise to see the need to find faster processing methods for the data produced. A recent Automation World survey found that 43% of manufacturers have deployed edge projects. Most popular use cases have included production/manufacturing data analysis and equipment data analytics.
  • Retailers: Like most industries deeply affected by the need to digitize operations, retailers are being forced to innovate their customer experiences. To that end, these organizations are “investing aggressively in compute power located closer to the buyer,” writes Dave Johnson, executive vice president of the IT division at Schneider Electric. He cites examples such as augmented-reality mirrors in fitting rooms that offer different clothing options without the consumer having to try on the items, and beacon-based heat maps that show in-store traffic.
  • Healthcare organizations: As healthcare costs continue to escalate, this industry is ripe for innovation that improves productivity and cost efficiencies. Management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has identified at least 11 healthcare use cases that benefit patients, the facility, or both. Two examples: tracking mobile medical devices for nursing efficiency as well as optimization of equipment, and wearable devices that track user exercise and offer wellness advice.

While these are strong use cases, as the edge computing market grows, so too will the number of industries adopting it.

Getting the edge on digital transformation

Faster processing at the edge fits perfectly into the objectives and goals of digital transformation — improving efficiencies, productivity, speed to market, and the customer experience. Here are just a few of the potential applications and industries that will be changed by edge computing:

Agriculture: Farmers and organizations already use drones to transmit field and climate conditions to watering equipment. Other applications might include monitoring and location tracking of workers, livestock, and equipment to improve productivity, efficiencies, and costs.

Energy: There are multiple potential applications in this sector that could benefit both consumers and providers. For example, smart meters help homeowners better manage energy use while reducing grid operators’ need for manual meter reading. Similarly, sensors on water pipes would detect leaks, while providing real-time consumption data.

Financial services: Banks are adopting interactive ATMs that quickly process data to provide better customer experiences. At the organizational level, transactional data can be more quickly analyzed for fraudulent activity.

Logistics: As consumers demand faster delivery of goods and services, logistics companies will need to transform mapping and routing capabilities to get real-time data, especially in terms of last-mile planning and tracking. That could involve street-, package-, and car-based sensors transmitting data for processing.

All industries have the potential for transformation, thanks to edge computing. But it will depend on how they address their computing infrastructure. Discover how to overcome any IT obstacles at