Michele Goetz, vice president of Forrester and the research firm’s principal analyst, recently provided a deep dive into why edge computing combined with the correct data strategy can be a winning combination for organizations of every size, shape and scope.

Speaking last month at the virtual Hitachi Social Innovation Forum Americas 2021 about both, she said, possessing the right mindset is as important as having the correct technical pieces in place.

It does, said Goetz in a session entitled Living On The Edge Puts Data At The Centre Of Your Business Strategy, come down to a case of an organization either succeeding or ultimately stalling.

“We've certainly been through quite a lot over the past 12 to 18 months,” she said. “Lots of changes and lots of new opportunities as well. And really the question at hand for your organization is do you want to play it safe and follow where the market is going, or do you want to stand out?

“Do you want to capitalize on new opportunities that are happening? There are new things that your customers want, and new social opportunities that are happening across the globe where you can make a difference?

“Well, most of us say we want to stand out. We want to be the top. We want to be the best, but we tend to look at our data in the same way. We ask a lot of the same questions all the time.”

Compare that to organizations who have been able to implement a successful digital transformation and the difference is stark, resulting in as much as 2.7 times industry average growth compared to their competitors, said Goetz.

“What is it that they do differently?” she asked. “First they stop doing what they've always been doing. They actually start to take a step back and really think about what does it mean to be in business in the 21st century? Well, they have to be future fit. They are looking to be the anomaly.

“They take direction from what other tech firms and leaders and industry disruptors have done, and figure out what does that mean for their business so that they can be resilient in times of massive change. They can be adaptive to fast changes within the market, and we're not just talking about the pandemic.

“We have regulatory changes afoot. We have social changes afoot. We have climate considerations afoot. All these different things are impacting how our businesses are moving forward.

“The way that we get out of it is how can we be creative in thinking about harnessing our technology investments to make that happen? The creativity is really where data comes in. Being insight-driven and insight-led means that we have the knowledge and wisdom to be able to look at the landscape that we're in and the conditions of the environment and put the right platforms, practices, and partners in place in order to move us forward as a future-fit company.”

Enter edge computing, a sector Goetz predicted will be a US$8.29 billion industry by 2025, and “is really starting to shape the way that we do business.

“Digital transformation isn't just about how we're creating automation and digital experiences with our applications, it's also about the way that we are creating experiences with our customers and where we engage on things like laptops, tablets, personal devices, smartphones and machines and kiosks themselves.”

What needs to be created, she said, is a connected ecosystem that uses data and insights to create actions and outcomes.

“We can't constantly be copying and moving and cycling data between the edge of our business and a cloud environment because there can be a lot of latency depending on what that network connectivity is going to be, the amount of transactional volume that happens there, and reliance on what type of connectivity. That is particularly true in IoT types of scenarios. You're not always hooked into that network or those cell towers or satellites to be able to transmit that type of information.

“We really have to be very mindful about what does a connected ecosystem look like and cater our data to meet those particular needs. The other piece of this is that when you're at the edge, we're operating in what we consider connected intelligence.

“What happens is that intelligence is both hyperlocal, where the edge of business happens and where you engage with your customers and partners and execute your operations, and then it is also internally in so that consistency of seeing your business as a whole in making those strategic decisions and plans, both at a high level as well as operationally.”

In order to be the anomaly, Goetz said, enterprises must be future fit and what that means is “design your data for doing. Don’t think about the systems and the spreadsheets and the dashboards. Think about how data is going to get used.

“When you are designing that data for doing, you are actually creating a product or a multitude of data products. It could be a pipeline; it could be a data model. It could be a data set, or it could be governance controls and security controls.”

Preparing for connected intelligence means investing in data and AI capabilities that let a business stand out from the competition, she said, as well as having the right talent and approaches in place.

“If you are sitting in your Zoom meeting with only your data team, you know you have a problem. You need to be talking to the product managers and portfolio managers of your company. For the solutions that need to take shape, you need to have relationships with designers, subject matter experts and being in tune with what business leaders need.”


Paul Barker