How Edge Computing and Digital Transformation March to the Same Drum

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By: Daniel Newman|

Photo Credit: agenciaadvmedia via Compfight cc

Edge computing—the practice of expanding computer applications, services, and data to the logical ends of a network—moves away from centralized nodes to the literal edge of the computing sphere. Perhaps a less complicated way to think about it is this: instead of devices like drones or traffic lights needing to connect back to a computer hub to make things happen, the device performs the analytics on its own to get the job done.

With increased speed, efficacy, responsiveness, and agility, the same principles can be applied to a business’s digital transformation. What will make this transformation work for your business is the same as what drives the philosophy behind edge computing—self-direction and no need for a middleman. Using both human and technological resources, digital transformation aligns internal and external processes in the most competitive markets.

Consider System Responsiveness

The underlying philosophy of computing is changing. Old infrastructures relied upon layers of programed-in directives, fixes, routers, and checkpoints. When each of these elements touches an incoming edge computing process, they slow it down. Herein lies the root of many latency issues. The speed and efficacy of edge computing is deeply rooted in single-directive components that remain relatively unmanaged. The more we try to manage them, the slower they become. This philosophy holds true for human and technological resources alike.

Edge computing—also called fog computing—is the technological answer. Living beyond the cloud, it allows for more processing to be completed at the information source and for the results to quickly slingshot back to the base untethered. Digital transformation is the version of this that hits closer to home. Current systems are now being imbued with increased responsiveness to compete in the current market. Updating our systems and organizations to match the speed of the edge requires new thought, which begins with systems resource management.

Envision the Scope of Edge Computing

The core principle of edge computing—that is, an overwhelmed system replicates itself rather than slows down—is a model for digital transformation to take place. Similar processes are being developed to reroute existing resources without active management. By programming these directives, we are cutting out checkpoints and middlemen that slow down workflow.

Leverage Employees for Implementation

Engaged, focused, and responsive employees have always been vital to the success of any company. In March, I explained how I thought human experience would fuel the digital transformation, and as we march toward the brave new world of edge computing, it couldn’t be truer.

The technological world’s constant state of flux must be embraced, especially by those who are actively engaging with it. Flexibility and openness to new methods, devices, and innovations are key for anyone entering the job market. This must be balanced, however, with clear directives. Digital transformation suggests that the same highly formulated action/reaction initiatives in the edge are critical to workplace flow.

It used to be that CEOs discussed their companies’ mission statements. Such statements are now being reformatted to fit a growing demand for speed, but the idea remains the same. Employees must trust that leaders have an overarching plan in mind. They must also buy in to the mission, philosophy, and culture of the enterprise—and uphold its sentiments and goals in all they do.

Just as information shooting back through the fog does not stop at checkpoints, employee processes have also become more streamlined. There’s no need for employees to stop and question the directives, hence the rise in all-inclusive work environments. Committed employees are a great start, but you must arm your engineers with the tools necessary to take action-based, event-recognition procedures to the next level.

Incorporate Technological Advances

Digital transformation is heavily rooted in transforming analogue activities to digital. Though this is not a new concept, it is one that steadily ramps up and comes with a hefty amount of new technology implementation. These developments start from the ground up and take many forms. As always, communication is key.

In my opinion, products such as Sametime are changing interoffice communication. If employees can immediately reach out to one another and are compelled to respond in turn, the overall “responsiveness” rises exponentially. Typed communication has become shorter, faster, and less redundant with such systems in place. The less direct communication is necessary, the more people can work on their projects without direct management. This is exactly the philosophy at play with edge nodes and computing.

One of the reasons instant communication, as well as other digitalized procedures, are effective is the flattening effect they have. A noteworthy factor in the initial startup success was the idea that the CEO, CTO, and engineers all sat in the same room. Direct and easy communication across the chain of command meant less time wasted. As startups grow, direct communication often falters. Workflow breaks down as layers of management begin to burden the business. As employee counts rise, foggier questions ensue and are followed by endless emails and games of telephone tag. This can have the side effect of blurring the overall mission.

By implementing systems that flatten the organization, companies can retain their direct communication. The results are greater focus, less time wasted, and a retained clarity of the stated goals. This model directly reflects one of the principles behind edge computing. There is no “chain”; there is only a direct pipeline between outposts, cutting down on interaction time.

Be Agile and Responsive

Agility and responsiveness are primary elements of digital transformation and edge computing. Much of this is tied to the elimination of midpoints. A clear initiative means fewer holdups. Better, faster information means that human and technological elements alike can make autonomous decisions, because a smoothly running system requires less leadership over time.

Edge computing and digital transformation mirror one another on many points. Both strive to implement the greatest efficacy possible into every system, human or machine. For a more streamlined business execution, it seems to me that edge computing makes an excellent model.

Additional Resources on This Subject

IBM Sametime
Between the Cloud and the Corporate Data Center, there is Fog Computing
In the Digital Age, Employees Must Be More Agile Than Ever
Is IT-as-a-Service Right for Your Organization?

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About The Author

Daniel Newman

Founder and President, Broadsuite, Inc.

After 12 years of running technology companies including a CEO appointment at the age of 28, I traded the corner office for a chance to drive the discussion on how the digital economy is going to forever change the way business is done. I'm an MBA, adjunct business professor and 4x author of best-selling business books including "The Millennial CEO" and "The New Rules of Customer Engagement." Pianist, soccer fan, husband and father, not in that order. Oh and for work...I'm the co-founder of V3B [Broadsuite], a marketing firm specializing in the digital space, helping companies be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world.

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