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Digital disruption and the role of the Intelligent Edge



Have thoughts or comments on the article below? Let me know: @JordanTechPro

Technology is playing an even more central role as an enabler of new business models. In addition, technology is playing a larger role in how we interact, work, move and live in physical spaces. In this blog article, I’ll be talking about where those two trends converge (hint: it’s at the edge).

Many startups have the luxury of being born as digital natives—with the business designed specifically to harness new media, new technology, new ecosystems and new customer experiences. Established organizations however, do not necessarily have the same digital focus in their DNA. The road ahead for these organizations, whether public or private, is filled with opportunity. The Opportunity to transform the way they do business, the way they operate or the infrastructure models which support them.



  Adopting the mindset of a startup

In order to compete with the fast-scaling new market entrants, many companies are increasing practices to ensure agility, creativity, and improved customer experiences. This might actually mean putting yourself in the shoes of one of these digital startups – businesses born in the digital age with none of the clutter that has grown over the years, no legacy challenges. They can build out an optimal technology environment unique to the needs of their business, balancing flexibility, control and innovation.

 Imagine what their IT environment would be like—being in full control of the experiences delivered, of the insights gained and with no downtime, allowing them to focus on what matters. Which, of course is delivering value and revenue to the business.

What if, like these startups, your entire business was defined by extraordinary customer experiences? If your workplace fostered talent engaged in the innovative work, empowered by the tools used and the physical space they work in? What if the insights your technology provides were interwoven in the fabric of your business through context awareness? What if your organization could harness the power of the Intelligent Edge?

Defining the Edge

All of this digital disruption is aimed at creating a more engaging and valuable experience at the edge – the point where technology and place meet. “Places” in this sense are of course, physical spaces which contain people, things and technology. All empowered by mobility. Said in other words, the edge is where the digital and physical meet, and this is where your business happens and it is where your opportunity lays.

 The making of the Intelligent Edge

The edge has evolved over time, with the first edge emerging as we began to connect in a digital way. Driven by mobile-first thinking and fueled by the internet of people, needs arose to share information at work, then at home, and then came mobile and social. The human edge was defined by the experience of the devices we all use to work, to play, to live: mobile devices, mobile apps, social platforms and the digitization of content (such as music and contextualized news).

 The second wave of disruption was the explosion of sensors and machine-to-machine interactions. This machine edge has fueled the industrial internet, again adding to the tsunami of data streams that make up this complex landscape.

Together the convergence of these edges into a truly immersive experience in which the human and machine boundaries collapse into seamless workflows. We call this the Intelligent Edge and it is the point where new value is created.

Know your boundaries to know your opportunities

Dr. Tom Bradicich has said, “You could define the edge simply as anything that’s not in a datacenter. Even the cloud is a datacenter, it’s just a datacenter that nobody is supposed to know where it is.” But defining the intelligent edge? That is more nuanced and much, much more profound.

 Yes, the edge is a boundary – in traditional technology jargon the edge was used to describe a part of the network or the last mile of connectivity between the individual and their services. But if we abstract this concept, we discover that it is the same situation we proposed earlier: the point where the physical world and the digital world meet. Connectivity continues to be key, but that connectivity is now truly pervasive. Wifi, cellular, Bluetooth, NFC, zwave. We are bathed in connectivity and the value of the edge is tied to those connections themselves as much as it is what is being connected. Access is mobile first.


IoT and Analytics: essential components Intelligent Edge

The physical and the digital are being blended by IoT: sensors and actuators which measure the world and take action based upon context. Just think how transformative two simple contexts have been – identity and location. The now ubiquitous ability for our technology to know ‘who I am and where I am,’ allowed organizations like Airbnb to disrupt the entire hospitality industry.

 And above all, analytics sit throughout for when speed counts for everything. Increasingly technology is needed to make autonomous decisions more quickly than humans or even the cloud can provide. If an aircraft engine needs to make critical changes to fuel throughput to avoid a mechanical failure, milliseconds count. Sending the raw data to the cloud, getting it crunched and returning the result could result in a delay which causes a critical situation. The collision detection system on a driverless car cannot wait one or two seconds to determine whether the object it thinks that it has seen is a reflection on a wet road, or someone’s daughter chasing her cat.

Intelligent Edge: Driving new value for organizations and new experiences for their customers

Regardless of scale, the edge has a physical, real world component. It has place. Whether that is at a micro scale within an aircraft engine or at a macro scale across a city, the places we live, work and play in are being transformed. When 90,000 people a day passed through Rio De Janero’s airport for the Summer Olympics they were greeted with an intelligent edge solution from HPE which transformed their travel experience, generating net-new revenues for the airport and their retail tenants. When football fans attend game day at Levi’s stadium the intelligent edge transforms their entertainment experience increasing concessions by more than a million dollars a year.

When a GenMobile employees walks into their office to collaborate with their colleagues, that building can show real time occupancy of rooms, find the way to colleagues’ locations, automate key process like setting up conference room technology and optimally control lighting, HVAC and power to ensure a comfortable experience that can save the organization more than $5,000 per employee per year.

We all exist in spaces. And using technology to influence the outcomes that we can achieve when we occupy them is at the heart of the intelligent edge transformation.

Stay tuned for next week’s article discussing why NOW is the moment to seize the opportunity for IoT and the Intelligent Edge. And if you would like to meet me in person, I’ll be in Las Vegas in June for HPE Discover. Register now to see the latest and greatest in enterprise technology.


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About the Author


Jordan Whitmarsh is a global solution strategist and digital advisor for HPE Pointnext. He focuses on helping customers accelerate their digital transformation journey in an edge centric, data driven and cloud enabled world.

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