Edge computing enables fast reactions and real-time capabilities, driving personalisation, quick reaction to customer needs and increased revenue.
2020 was the year in which global industry analysts predicted that edge computing – and complementary 5G network solutions – would see significant growth, as cloud vendors deployed more edge servers in local markets and telecom providers pushed ahead with 5G deployments. In South Africa not so much. It’s time for that to change now.
But What is It?
Werner Herbst, general manager of Enterprise Compute at Tarsus Distribution, says one of the challenges is that computing at the edge is not an easy concept to grasp for those outside of the technology sector.
“Edge computing is decentralised computing that happens at or near the source of the data, instead of relying on the cloud – located at data centres – to do all the work. Essentially, it means the cloud comes to the user,” he says. “While demand is still nascent, the implications for resellers who understand the power of edge computing are extremely positive.
Putting Confidence into Decision-making
Critically, it is about using technology to make your customer more profitable.
Chris Larkins, business unit manager for Dell Enterprise at Tarsus Distribution agrees. “Edge computing is the ability to do decision making as close to the consumer or customer possible, so that whoever needs to use that data effectively to get a result from it, can make a decision quickly.”
The use for edge computing focuses on the level of intimacy that organisations are striving for when creating new kinds of solutions for customers.
“Let’s say I’m shopping at Woolworths and my history reveals that I buy a lot of low-fat milk. As I enter the store, I will get a message on my device letting me know that there is a special on low-fat milk in aisle four. At another level, autonomous driving capabilities are a special edge computing case; the vehicle sensors can immediately detect that a pedestrian is about to step in front of my vehicle. These are just two disparate examples, but they demonstrate how the uses of edge computing vary across industries and market segments.”
What we do know, adds Herbst, is that the companies that move quickly to adopt edge computing technologies stand to gain a significant a competitive edge in these tough times.
The Benefits of Being at the Edge
The goal of edge computing is to improve an organisation’s reaction time in response to the needs of the business. This enables the organisation to differentiate its offering from competitors. Customer loyalty is likely to increase because people will enjoy their experience of the organisation more. Once that happens, sales start to increase and so too do profitability and brand awareness.
“This is the perfect time for businesses to start investigating edge computing as part of their investment in the future,” says Larkins. “Everything right now is about customer experience, and consumers expect instantaneous information and services from the companies they interact with. To drive personalisation, companiesneed to react more quickly to customer needs and habits,in order to increase revenue. As a result, the ability to respond quickly in real-time has become a critical business driver.”
Herbst says the edge computing conversation is one that he and his team are determined to have to have with partners because it presents a new, exciting and profitable way forward for their customers.
“This is about developing new strategic paths that take advantage of the latest, most complete technology solutions and talk directly to customer engagement at levels never seen before. We are keen to talk to partners about the first-mover advantage. It also speaks to the need to develop an in-depth understanding of each customer’s business and what we can do to help them become more intuitive and more profitable.”
Says Herbst, “It boils down to the cost of the investment in edge computing and the return on investment that can be expected. The total savings over a period of time will far outweigh the immediate cost, as will the rise in productivity and profitability. It’s as simple and important as that.”