Edge computing is the next digital frontier, but for many leaders, it remains a relatively new concept. According to Gartner, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed beyond centralised cloud data centres, via edge computing by the year 2025, a mere five years away.

Despite edge computing taking off at lightning speed, leaders often fail to recognise or understand the complexities or opportunities involved in adopting it as part of a broader business strategy.

As consumers, edge computing is already enriching our daily lives. Whether you’re ordering an Uber in Melbourne, Hong Kong or San Francisco via your smartphone, uploading your latest Insta-worthy happy snaps while holidaying in Thailand, or finding out today’s weather forecast from Siri, you are using backend services only made possible because of real-time access to data updates and services from your nearest geographically distributed data centre.

Edge has already heavily penetrated several industries: in transport, it is used to predict traffic flow to enhance consumer route planning and optimisation, while in manufacturing, it helps to identify and predict maintenance schedules (which are key given that the sector relies heavily on the performance and uptime of automated machines).

In financial services, edge has been around for a while: ATMs, banking apps and remote branches have all previously incorporated various elements of edge processing, meeting the necessity of access to data in real-time environments.

Edge computing is a rapidly growing technology, with very far-reaching potential. The future of business will require leaders to understand what an appropriate edge strategy is.

What is edge computing?

Technically speaking, edge computing is geographically distributed computing which performs processing from the best, closest available location to each task or request.

Based on cloud technologies, edge computing is a means of horizontally scaling work, reducing latency and making services, systems and applications more resilient. From an enterprise perspective, edge computing will improve performance, security and productivity with appropriate implementation.

Edge computing uses sensors to collect data, while edge servers process data in real-time onsite. This enables businesses to collect and analyse data at the source of data collection; in turn, problems can be corrected in real-time, whereas they may otherwise not have been identified until reaching the central service or cloud when undergoing processing and analysis.

Moving the computing closer to the processes allows for operation technology professionals to make even more impactful decisions. It does, however, remove the comfort of having the service and applications running on it supported by a data centre IT department.

Moving forward with an edge strategy

Like any new project, successful edge computing requires a well-considered and structured implementation program and design. Having multiple sites collecting and analysing data simultaneously can create complexity: with more sites to be configured and monitored, costly challenges can arise. Careful strategy and implementation can minimise this complexity and reduce risk.

Here are some key insights on how to get your edge strategy right straight from the start, so that it doesn’t end up being a costly failed IT project:

  • Map out your existing infrastructure.

    By mapping out existing infrastructure first, you can better understand if edge is right for your needs and, if so, what would be the best strategy. It is important to consider the location and proximity of your existing infrastructure and associated regulatory requirements.

    This will help you determine if your current systems are reliable, robust and compliant, or require an upgrade to edge computing. For organisations operating in urban cities, this may be less of a consideration than for businesses requiring operations in rural areas.

  • Determine gaps and future requirements.

    Once you have reviewed your existing infrastructure, you will need to review the practical use case requirements for edge computing. This will help you to assess the latency and determine the critical application of the technology.

    For example, the cloud may suffice to store and retrieve; however, if you require an assessment of situations at the source for real-time decision-making, edge computing will assist your organisation to act on data locally.

  • Collaborate with partners and external experts.

    With something as technical as edge computing, it is best to rally the experts and advisers in this space. Work with knowledgeable system integrators who know this space intimately and offer the right edge technology solutions.

With computer infrastructure ever-changing in line with technological advancements, it is critical to stay up to date with the impact of these changes on your industry.

By doing so, you can identify and understand use case efficiencies which can be applied to your business to bulletproof your competitive advantage. Proper planning is critical to be able to reap the benefits of an edge computing deployment today and enable impactful innovation tomorrow.