The future of innovative business lies at the edge

Issue 6 2023 Infrastructure

With the rapid evolution of technology, businesses worldwide are embracing strategies that place customers at the heart of their operations. One pivotal technology leading this change is edge computing. This is according to Nathi Dube, Director of PBT Innovation at PBT Group.

"Central to every organisation's focus is the customers they serve. While traditionally, everything was centralised in a data centre; this setup does not align with the fact that customers are spread across the country and interact with services far from these centralised locations. The essence of edge computing is reaching out to where customers are, understanding and swiftly responding to their needs, and harnessing deeper insights into their interactions with your products," comments Dube.

A significant advantage of edge computing is its ability to help address data sovereignty and localisation requirements. Dube elaborates, "This particularly, impacts multinationals more, as they are often confronted with varied regional regulatory requirements in terms of where certain data, for example, personal data, is processed and stored. Edge computing is ideal for this case because it allows data to be processed and stored locally."

Factors driving the edge boom

Dube highlights several factors that have seen an increased interest in edge computing.

1. Innovation and customer-centricity: Businesses have an innate need to innovate. This drive is chiefly about being closer to their customers, making them feel that the company is right where they are.

2. Technological advancements: Edge's potential was previously limited due to connectivity issues. However, with innovations like 5G and the proliferation of IoT, connectivity is now seamless. The data generated by these connected devices enhances analytics, with AI further enhancing customer experiences.

3. The role of the public cloud: The public cloud has been instrumental in actualising edge computing, offering unparalleled computing and storage power. While the cloud plays a pivotal role in training AI models, the real growth happens at the edge, allowing AI to be finely tuned to benefit businesses.

Key considerations

Dube believes that while new technologies bring along a wave of excitement, businesses must cut through the hype. "It is imperative to identify your specific use cases for edge computing. Understand your infrastructure needs, especially in relation to cloud-connected AI devices. Equally crucial is gauging how legacy systems will mesh with edge models and whether your organisation possesses the requisite skills to leverage edge technology optimally."

Highlighting Africa's unique challenges for traditional data centres, Dube says, "Given the prevalent connectivity and power issues in Africa, edge data centres are becoming increasingly important. These centres, being modular and scalable, can be easily maintained. Their design negates the constant need for redesigning, a characteristic of traditional data centres. Given their compact size, akin to a shipping container, they can be effortlessly shipped to even the remotest areas."

Of course, edge computing is not just another passing trend. Dube believes that it is an enabler, a tool that, when harnessed right, can propel any industry into the future, with customer-centricity at its core. As businesses continue to evolve, placing customers at the forefront will remain critical, and edge computing will be instrumental in achieving this objective.

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