Edge computing: Enabling the shift to digital-first world

New research released in a whitepaper published by Schneider Electric has revealed how edge computing can enable the transition to digital-first operations

Schneider Electric, has today unveiled findings from a newly commissioned IDC White Paper which shows how edge computing can enable the shift to digital-first connected operations.  

The white paper titled, Succeeding at Digital First Connected Operations, includes responses from over 1,000 IT and operations professionals across industrial, healthcare, education, and other verticals as well as a series of in-depth interviews with industrial enterprises. 

Respondents represented firms in the United States, China, Japan, Germany, The United Kingdom, India, and Ireland. The organisations ranged in size from 100 to more than 1,000 employees. Responses provided insights about the factors driving edge investments, the challenges firms faced while deploying to the edge, obstacles to continued investment, and strategic recommendations to future-proof edge capabilities. 

“As organisations seek to create new or improved experiences for customers and to become more operationally efficient, improve safety and security, and become more sustainable, they are leaning more on digital technologies. “The white paper examines the crucial role that edge computing and edge deployments play in enabling digital-first, connected operations,” says Chris Hanley, SVP, Commercial Operations & Global Channels, leading edge commercial strategy, Schneider Electric.

“It highlights strategies that IT professionals and decision-makers can adapt to future proof their edge computing capabilities to support remote, connected, secure, reliable, resilient, and sustainable operations.”

Over half of respondents cited improving cybersecurity as a reason for edge computing investment 

When organisations were asked why they were investing in edge computing to support these workloads, respondents cited, “improve cybersecurity” (50%) and “systems resiliency and reliability” (44%). 

Yet, there are various challenges that organisations must overcome to ensure their edge infrastructure. Despite the promise of the edge, many organisations report connectivity and power outage concerns, Schneider Electric says.

32% of respondents have experienced a “lack of connectivity or slow connectivity” with their edge deployments whilst 31% have experienced a “utility power outage or power surge lasting more than 60 seconds.”

Challenges to overcome when transitioning to digital-first connected operations  

The first challenge is security. Physical and cybersecurity concerns are high when connecting operations. This concern will require systems and processes that are tailored for this new paradigm. Yet, once connected to the cloud, the power of operational data can be harnessed to drive a host of new and enhanced use cases. Such data can enhance collaboration in the enterprise and enable remote operations capabilities that result in labor efficiencies while ensuring companies have resilient, remote operations capabilities.

Another challenge skills, Schneider says. The reason for this is that the workforce needs to have the right skills to execute across technology settings and to be able to build alignment internally to drive change. This focus will require companies to engage with new ecosystem partners inside and outside of their organisation.

Lastly, reliability. As more of the local operations capabilities are directly supported remotely through the connected edge, reliability is a critical concern. 

“Resilient edge resources are the foundation for shifting to digital-first, connected operations,” said Jennifer Cooke, Research Director, Edge Strategies, IDC. “Organisations will become vulnerable if and when their technology fails. To future proof edge deployments, leaders must develop a strategy that addresses concerns, such as cybersecurity and connectivity issues, and ensures access to the skills required to maintain resilient edge infrastructures.”

How can organisations future-proof edge capabilities to support their transition to digital-first connected operations? 

When future-proofing edge capabilities, organisations should include resilient, secure, sustainable power and connectivity resources, allowing companies can reduce the risk of downtime.

They should also remotely monitor and manage edge resources at a large scale. The ongoing management of edge infrastructure at scale will challenge all organisations. 

“Having the right skills in the right place at the right time will be difficult if not impossible,” Schnieder explains. As a result, it is important to ensure that your edge resources are equipped to support continuous remote monitoring and autonomous operation.



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