Earlier entrants are getting a head start on reaping the benefits of edge computing and they are providing roadmaps and lessons that will benefit everyone across the board.
The gold rush is on to capitalize on edge computing, but certain industries and types of companies are more likely to start seeing the results somewhat earlier than the rest. Leaders in edge implementations will be organizations in the transportation and manufacturing sectors serviced by cloud and technology manufacturers.
That’s the word from Akash Bhatia and a team of BCG contributors, who earlier this year looked at the ways edge computing is reshaping companies across major industry groups, noting that edge computing is poised to generate winners and losers in the manner of prior technology shifts such as cloud computing. However, while cloud made access and implementations far simpler for enterprises, edge computing requires a more complex set of skills and capabilities, so today’s winners may not be tomorrow’s.
Of course, edge computing requires an ecosystem of providers to
support the above industry implementations. The BCG analysts identified seven
types of edge computing providers that will be taking the lead in the emerging
cloud providers. The edge is a natural extension for public cloud platforms,
“combining the cloud’s computing and storage capacity with the edge’s
hardware and connectivity into a hybrid cloud,” BCG says. “Cloud providers
are investing outside their core by following three approaches. They are
extending their businesses vertically into hardware and chips, partnering with
other companies to create ecosystems, and taking advantage of their scale to
continue their horizontal expansion.”
and chip manufacturers. These companies have a natural
and nearby opportunity to develop sensors, gateway, and other devices for the
edge. Some of this equipment, such as oil wells and farm implements, will be
installed in harsh conditions in the field—potentially new environments for
manufacturers. The edge also gives them an opportunity to move upstream into
industry-specific applications and platforms, taking advantage of the AI
processing capabilities of new chips. Hardware manufacturers will likely need
to utilize both hardware and software to compete against public cloud providers
and cooperate with them in developing ecosystems. Getting this balance right
will be key.”
goods companies. “These companies are pursuing approaches similar to those of
hardware manufacturers. They are embedding edge capabilities into their products
and expanding into applications and platforms by working with existing
customers and partners. Their success depends on their ability to demonstrate
that they have the software capabilities, either in-house or in partnership
with others, that the edge requires. These companies may have a narrow
opportunity to build end-to-end solutions, a strategy being deployed by Tesla,
the electric-car maker.
- Content Distribution Networks. These networks “have been in the edge business longer than most companies,” the BCG analysts note. “They have an opportunity to move beyond their core capability of caching video streams to offer other services, such as cloud management and security for customers. The rollout of 5G will create additional opportunities to provide local-access computing capabilities close to the edge.” These companies, BCG adds, “have natural ecosystem or partnership opportunities with telecom operators.”
- Telecom companies. The rollout of 5G networks may catapult telecoms into leadership roles at the edge. They also may partner with cloud companies to gain an edge foothold. “They will build business cases around such technologies as mobile edge computing — placing servers near 5G cell towers, narrowband IoT, and ultra-reliable low-latency communication for mission-critical uses such as remote surgery and self-driving vehicles.”
“The venture community has been actively investing in the IoT and edge
computing—specifically, in companies offering applications and analytics that
provide convenient solutions and are easy for customers to adopt.”
Several industry-specific areas of focus will comprise the bulk of
emerging edge applications. What’s significant, the BCG analysts say, is that
these six categories will account for 78% of the total edge market.
transportation. “This includes private vehicles, public transit, trucks, and
bicycle and scooter sharing,” the BCG analysts point out.
monitoring and maintenance. This will be a game-changer for
the Industry 4.0 movement, which needs low latency, high reliability, and
security. “Many large manufacturers are already fairly advanced in
automation and are pioneering edge architectures built around real-time
machine-learning algorithms. Other companies with legacy assets are much less
advanced in adoption but are laying the groundwork for rapid growth.
and virtual reality. “Intelligence at the periphery could unlock AR use cases in
retail, manufacturing, or health care and unleash consumer VR products.”
grid. “The smart grid-connected power plants, infrastructure, and
systems used for outage detection and energy routing—is one of the most mature
components of the edge, especially in developed markets.”
and automation. Driven by Industry 4.0 and machine learning, “robotics and
automation depend on both human-like latency and always-on connectivity. The
edge can help ensure both.”
analytics. “Remote video cameras are inexpensive, but sending live
video streams to the cloud can be expensive. By processing data within the
device or on-premises, the edge can help lower costs and reduce latency.”
The rise of edge computing means opportunities across the board
for all companies across all industries. While the earlier entrants identified
by BCG are getting a head start on reaping the benefits of edge, they are also
providing roadmaps and lessons that will benefit everyone across the board.