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The opportunity is NOW for IoT and the Intelligent Edge



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

In last week’s blog post I discussed the evolution of the intelligent edge, and how its’ essential role in digital disruption. What do I mean? Because the edge is where the digital and physical meet, and this is where business happens, this is where opportunity lays.

But in this article I will discuss why opportunity to fully leverage the edge is NOW.

The business benefits….

Many organizations are using the intelligent edge to transform their operating models, enabling new business models to emerge. Digital transformation can be defined as improving customer experiences, products and services, and processes but what this boils down to is the enablement of a business transformation. The opportunity to do today’s things better and the opportunity to do new things awesomely. Improving operations or driving new revenue streams.

  • A motor insurance company using sensors in mobile phones to detect driving style. An increased ability to judge risk results in lower premiums with higher sales.
  • An elevator company using sensors in mechanical components to measure usage and wear resulting in predictive maintenance. Targeting engineering resources means covering more installations at a lower cost.
  • A major sports franchise using location services and mobile engagement / analytics to target concessions and merchandise sales while increasing the fan experience. A great experience keeps ticket sales high and when fans are in the stadium they buy more.

The vital role of the digital organization is to connect the dots and overcome internal silos in order to reach its goals because interconnectedness must become the new norm. In other words: although the edge is your organization’s interface point, the digital ecosystem that supports it is essential to work faster and to better enable those interfaces. The intelligent edge and the platforms that power it are inseparable and the movement towards the edge is defined by its ability to capture and drive net-new value.

Looking at the list above you see some common themes: mobile engagement and data provided from connected things – the so called “Internet of Things.”


 So what IS the internet of things?

Taking the elevator example, based on access to data from both traditional and new IoT sources, that an organization can predict the failure of a component before it happens. Imagine what your business could achieve by redefining what it means to operate your business-critical environments – whatever they may be. Whether this is within your IT estate, or an OT (operational technology context), predicting the failure of a drive in your datacenter protects your IT and predicting the failure of a component of your production line protects your core business.

So as focus shifts to the Edge, closest to where your business actually happens, we also have to consider not just IT, Information Technology, but also OT, operations technology.

Gartner estimates that there will be 8.4 Billion connected "things" in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016. We can debate the definition of IoT, as there are multiple definitions out there. But instead, let’s focus on what the definitions share: a technical perspective. The common thread includes notions of “devices,” “connectivity” and “intelligence”. But what does that really mean?

Let’s start with devices, with the “things” themselves. In this context, we’re not talking about traditional computing devices like laptops and smartphones, servers and access points. “Devices” in the IoT context include everything from tiny sensors, to single-application embedded devices (like smart meters and personal health monitors), all the way up to large scale industrial systems (wind turbines, medical equipment or oil wells). IoT implementations almost always relate to particular physical processes that can benefit from being digitized. Digitizing the world needs action as well—digital-to-digital action through APIs and digital-to-physical action through actuators. A simple feedback loop on a gas pipeline measuring current conditions, and an actuator responding to the outcome of complex thermodynamic calculations undertaken at the edge could be the difference between peak efficiency and disaster.

Let’s not get too hung up on “I” (for “internet”) of IoT either.  It’s true that many of these devices will be publicly connected and secured, and many privately connected and secured. Either way, they are connected and they must be secured. The connections themselves are often just as important as the data that is being generated or the actions which they perform. It is those connections which define how the data is shared, how it is processed and how it is used to generate value. Increasingly this connectivity is wireless: things move, people move and secure connectivity must follow.

IoT could be viewed simply as a new source of data. By 2020, IDC estimates that a whopping 40% of the world's data will come from machines talking to other machines. Some of that data will be routed through the cloud, and some by necessity will stay at the edge. One of the primary benefits of IoT is what that data enables: the convergence of analytical insights enabled by connected devices can be used for enhanced decision making, automation, continuous improvement of business processes, and much more. As long as we can learn how to harness all that data and transform it into actionable business intelligence.

Quite simply, when you connect the unconnected and build a digital map of the world around us – incredible things can happen.

At HPE, we believe that the Intelligent Edge can seamlessly bring together devices, connectivity and data to power a new generation of digital experiences across your organization. For your employees, for your customers and for your operations—creating new business value and accelerating your success in the digital economy.

Stay tuned for next week’s article discussing how to understand and overcome the challenges presented by 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.