The Symbiosis of 5G and the Enterprise Edge: Enabling Brilliant Experiences


Digital transformation is typically focused on the enablement of better products, services, experience, or business models. However, the new digital age has been a challenge for companies, by transforming the way companies interact with their customers, and changing the processes and business models. With the development of digital technologies, the classical system of doing business has been disrupted, as companies unlock new potential through the adoption of technology.

Companies are now trying to rebuild their business approach by leveraging innovative devices and applications to create new business models. Enterprises quickly began looking for technology that could add ease and optimization to their daily processes, and since the start of the pandemic, demand for technological innovation rose 46.7 percent among organizations in all industries. In 2022 alone, spending on digital transformation (DX) is projected to reach 1.8 trillion U.S. dollars, and by 2025, global digital transformation spending is forecast to reach 2.8 trillion U.S. dollars.

The increased spending comes as no surprise, as there are a plethora of new devices and applications available, with new ones hitting the market with every passing day. However, out of all the technological innovations, a recent joint study by Google Cloud and Omidia found that the two that are most notably growing at a rapid pace amongst enterprises are edge computing and 5G, as well as their associated equipment.

“5G is more than just bandwidth and latency; it is about virtualization and sharing,” said Michael Elling, strategist for Veea, an edge communications, computing, and cyber security company based in NYC. “The latter two allow the applications running both in the cloud and at the edge to optimize the network capacity and performance economically.  This requires a fundamental shift for carriers in their approach to selling and supporting application ecosystems, while at the same time looking beyond the limitations in terms of coverage and throughput of their own networks.”

Both technologies, while relatively new to the enterprise landscape, have already become commonplace amongst organizations of all industries. Edge computing, which is defined as, “a part of a distributed computing topology in which information processing is located close to the edge, where things and people produce or consume that information,”  was adopted rapidly thanks to its ability to offer less latency, reduced cost, and greater performance.

According to the study, the edge is set to grow, as 7 out of 10 enterprises are expected to invest in the edge within the next 12 months. On top of this, 70 percent of all firms expect to spend $100,000 or more on edge during the first 24 months of deployment, with close to a quarter of all industries preparing to spend $1 million or more. Market research echoes this, as the global multi-access edge computing market size is anticipated to reach USD 23.36 billion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 42.6 percent over the forecast period.

The swift growth of edge computing can be attributed to the efficiency boost it offers remote and in-the-field workers, as well as the enhanced compliance, giving enterprises the ability to identify and fix problems faster. Truly, however, enterprises are turning to the edge for the optimized insights, as the technology enables companies to access real-time situational data and intelligence to improve decision making and response.

However, the study found that one-third of companies say that edge computing is simply part of an enterprise-wide digital transformation initiative, one which also encompasses the adoption of 5G. For the fifth-generation wireless technology, the potential speed of 20 Gbps is a significant draw, but its low latency of 1 millisecond or less, and its ability to support multi-gigabit data rates have been even more attractive for enterprise applications.

According to the study, driving 5G adoption is how well it pairs with the edge, as enterprises begin using a combination of the two technologies for the most optimal results. Eight out of ten enterprises believe that the availability of 5G is highly important to benefit from edge computing.

The market for 5G enabled applications is growing rapidly, such as augmented reality, mass IoT, robotics, AUVs/drones, and other devices. This makes the unison of 5G ten times faster speeds and the edge’s reduced latency by bringing compute capabilities into the network critical for enterprises looking to keep up with digital advancements. On top of this, edge computing can provide developers an environment to create the 5G applications that do not exist today, paving the way for another round of innovations.

“The physical edge is an extremely complex and varied place,” Elling explained. “The amount of data generated and acted on in real-time--due to IoT and video--is greater by several factors than the current application driven cloud ecosystem.  The cloud scaled and succeeded economically because it was and is a shared medium at every layer.  5G and edge compute (or edge cloud) will likely mirror this model to handle the complexity and amount of data generated.”

Unfortunately, as beneficial as edge and 5G adoption can be for enterprises, the process doesn’t come without its hurdles. The study found that the top challenges to manufacturers looking to implement edge and 5G include operational efficiency, employee productivity, safety, and skills. At least 40 percent have just one edge-enabled site, but 61 percent will expand, most likely to five sites or less. However, almost 40 percent believe a private 5G network is essential to use edge.

Overall, difficulties in deployment aside, both technologies will continue to grow, and play a major role in society as we venture further into a new digital era. This makes the adoption of the edge, 5G, or some combination of both will be essential for enterprises who wish to keep up with both the competition and consumer demands.

Be part of the conversation at Intelligent Edge Expo 2022, taking place June 21-24, 2022 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida as part of IoT Evolution Expo, 5G Expo, and #TECHSUPERSHOW.  Intelligent Edge Expo will focus on the Intelligent edge as its own entity and as part of the larger Systems of Systems that is the Internet of Things of today and the future, and the sensors, gateways, endpoints, network connections that comprise the Intellgence Edge and help IoT-enabled organizations become ever more efficient, sustainable and profitable.

Edited by Erik Linask
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