Change is one of the constants in life. In business, the agility to adapt to that change can be the difference between success and failure.
In this extreme-change environment of Covid-19 and climate change (among many other things), the Internet of Things (IoT) is a bright spot. Hosted via cloud connections, the IoT is increasing in scope and provides some great benefits in keeping companies agile.
But extreme weather, Covid-19 outbreaks, and overburdened networks can make connectivity to the cloud difficult. That connectivity is your lifeline to being able to manage change.
For example, if you operate (or plan to) a “circular economy” business model, you need to diagnose consumer issues remotely and fix them proactively. Many organizations are already diagnosing issues and updating firmware remotely. But if Internet connectivity is unavailable or unstable, you may need to process lots of data locally. Or security requirements in your industry may dictate that your data stays locally rather than in the cloud.
In cases like these, IoT devices may need run self-sufficiently. Sensors, which provide data, key information and insights, must be managed remotely, onsite or close by – on the edge. That way you can monitor, analyze and update equipment remotely – even fixing it before it becomes an issue with customers.
IoT at the edge may be used in situations such as:
- Wind turbines: In the middle of the ocean, wind turbines are subject to all sorts of weather conditions. They are also difficult for human engineers to reach. A hurricane, or other climate-related weather changes, could take your wind turbine speed from 0 to 100 in a second, which would rip it apart. A sensor can predict the wind speed and then gradually decelerate it to accommodate. But if the sensor was connected to the cloud and connectivity failed, the data analysis, communication and instructions for action would be slower - or lost, potentially causing a failure.
- Nuclear utilities: Whereas sensors can predict failures and support maintenance, these facilities have very strict security regulations and are unable to use the cloud for data analysis. Conversely, the edge sits in their local environment, giving them the ability to analyze data on the fly without using the cloud.
- Painting robots: A manufacturing plant creates thousands of pieces of data every second, which can be costly to send to the cloud. Plus, the latency could slow down reactions. If a fault were detected, and you needed to stop a robot immediately, that latency could result in defective work. At the edge, the data can be processed locally and only the relevant data sent to the cloud. If a robot needs to be stopped, it can be stopped instantly. Going forward, we will be relying on robots more and more and the necessity for immediately action will increase.
- Autonomous vehicles and robotics: Going forward, we will have more and more smart products that must be able to process data right where they are. If your autonomous car’s sensors detect a deer in the road up ahead, and the data were delayed by cloud connectivity, you could have a nasty accident.
According to analyst firm Gartner, 10% of data is processed outside the traditional cloud and by 2025 this will reach 75%.
- It’s cheaper: Businesses realize how expensive it is to scale and store data in the cloud. As they process more data in the cloud, it becomes more expensive.
- Faster reactions: You can react to something before it becomes catastrophic - because you can get insights right where the data is collected there are no delays.
- Security: If regulators mandate that you keep your data locally, or if you simply prefer not to use the cloud for data, edge is the only solution.
- Manages change: The weather, Covid-19, the growth in autonomous machines all contribute to constant change in the way you manage data. The edge can accommodate that change on the spot.
What if you could anticipate and react quickly to any changing situation – from political to environmental? You could manage your assets from afar in areas where connectivity is lost or intermittent, quickly and effectively. You could satisfy regulators that your data will not be hacked in the cloud. You could manage change, rather than let change manage you.
IoT on the edge is the way.
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