Edge Computing And The Need To Sense And Respond


Back in 2013, I wrote about the critical need to Sense and Respond in a climate of uncertainty, interdependency, complexity, and velocity. In that post, I said this:

As our world experiences continued Acceleration and the amount of data flowing through company ecosystems expands, the need to sense stimuli and enable a real time response intensifies. Fortunately, rapid advancements in the price and performance of technology make realizing this sense and respond paradigm achievable and economical for a wide range of use cases – but this is arguably one of the most difficult components of transformation road maps.

That last point, the difficulty in realizing this sense and respond paradigm, is still a challenge seven years later. Though there are many challenges ranging from technology to culture, the biggest may be the limitations of the current compute paradigm. Much of our future innovation depends upon advancements in the synergistic relationship between multiple domains, including energy and compute paradigms (see visual). A shift in these paradigms, whether towards abundant green energy or quantum computing, supports human development enabled by innovation.

One such shift is towards edge computing. This Article by Eric Knorr explores this shift and its eventual impact on innovation. According to Wikipedia, Edge computing is defined as: a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and data storage closer to the location where it is needed, to improve response times and save bandwidth. The article above had this to say about this emerging compute paradigm:

Primarily, edge computing is applied to low-latency situations where compute power must be close to the action, whether that activity is industrial Internet of Things (IoT) robots flinging widgets or sensors continuously taking the temperature of vaccines in production. The research firm Frost & Sullivan predicts that by 2022, 90 percent of industrial enterprises will employ edge computing.

One key outcome is the vast reduction in data transmission costs. Per the author, edge computing recognizes that not everything can or should be centralized. And the inventive variations on that simple notion are playing a key role in shaping the next generation of computing. The article points to several other articles that explore various aspects of this next generation. As mentioned above, the key area that benefits from this shifting paradigm goes back to our climate of uncertainty, interdependency, complexity, and velocity. In a post focused on this specifically, I identified Five Areas where an ability to sense and respond helps to address the climate: understanding the future, innovation, opportunity, operations, and risk and security. In this post, I leveraged a quote from management expert Gary Hamel, where he summarizes the challenges we face as the structures of the industrial age collide with the digital age. I will close with that quote:

“Modern management is one of humanity’s most important inventions. But it was developed more than a century ago to maximize standardization, specialization, hierarchy, control, and shareholder interests. While that model delivered an immense contribution to global prosperity, the values driving our most powerful institutions are fundamentally at odds with those of this age – zero-sum thinking, profit-obsession, power, conformance, control, hierarchy, and obedience don’t stand a chance against community, interdependence, freedom, flexibility, transparency, meritocracy, and self-determination. It’s time to radically rethink how we mobilize people and organize resources to productive ends”.

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