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Edge-assisted Cloud-of-Things: everything your organization needs to know

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / Blackboard)

Up till now, little was known on the impact of the Edge-assisted Cloud-of-Things (Edge-CoT) on organizations. Most academic papers explored the technological aspect of this next-gen cloud computing technology, ignoring its tremendous effect on companies across all industries and business models.

In 2020, a study explored the effect of Edge-CoT on organizations, as well as the main preparation measures organizations should rely on, to ensure a smooth technological transition while staying ahead of the game.

The present article summarizes the main findings of the study conducted by Koltykova (2020), that relied on interviews with cloud computing thought leaders and influencers across the globe. You will find out:

  • What exactly is Edge-assisted Cloud-of-Things? 
  • What benefits and challenges can businesses expect from Edge-CoT? 
  • How can you better prepare your organization for Edge-CoT?

What is Edge-assisted Cloud-of-Things? 

The future development of cloud computing systems is more and more influenced by IoT (Xia et al., 2017; Belcastro et al., 2017). Therefore, Cloud-assisted Internet-of-Things (Cloud-of-Things, or in short CoT) has recently emerged as a groundbreaking model that enables smart IoT devices and sensors to be connected with the Cloud through the Internet (Abawajy et al., 2019).

CoT enables IoT devices to benefit from both cloud’s powerful and scalable high-performance computing, and massive storage infrastructure for real-time processing and storing of the IoT data. Nonetheless, the CoT paradigm is currently facing increasing difficulty to handle the Big Data that IoT generates. According to Abawajy et. al (2019):

“As billions of previously unconnected devices are now generating more than two exabytes of data each day, it is challenging to ensure low latency and network bandwidth consumption, optimal utilization of computational recourses, scalability and energy efficiency of IoT devices, while moving all data to the cloud”

Consequently, in recent times, this centralized CoT model is undergoing a transition towards a decentralized model termed as Edge computing. The Edge computing model offers Cloud's computing and storage capabilities on a smaller scale and in real-time. This is achieved by moving data computing, storage and service supply from the cloud to the local edge devices, such as smartphones, smart gateways and local PCs.

Thus, Edge computing complements CoT paradigm by providing high scalability, low delay, location awareness, and allowing of using local client computing capabilities in real-time. The convergence between these three technologies results in a new technological paradigm: the Edge-assisted Cloud-of-Things, in short, Edge-CoT (Varghese & Buyya, 2018).

What benefits and challenges can businesses expect from Edge-CoT?

In the near future, all industries will be touched by the Edge-CoT trend, and business professionals can expect the emergence of new industries driven by the evolution of the cloud. Similar to the social media and e-commerce industries, these new industries will bring significant changes to the way business is conducted. Likewise, new business opportunities will be created, as this convergence boosts other technologies, in particular Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning (AI/ML).

Customer experience improvement is the main business opportunity that will arise from the Edge-CoT paradigm: As businesses gain more customer data, they become better equipped for decision-taking, improving their customer feedback loop. Furthermore, the merge between the physical and the digital world will generate a more sophisticated customer experience. If done correctly, this will allow businesses to grab an additional market share and improve their revenue models.

The internal aspects of all organizations, such as the people, processes and products, will also be affected: The paradigm of people management will shift as communication boundaries are removed, and 3D and Virtual Reality technologies gain ground.

3D and 5G will allow the production of goods closer to the customer, resulting in less shipping and package utilization. Digitalization and 3D printing are also expected to affect all the factors related to the Products’ dimension: Edge-CoT will bring the ability to leverage technology strategically, instead of just automating the manual tasks. As a result, businesses will have to re-think what new values they bring to the table and how better can they do the job they have always been doing. As fewer people will be operating, businesses can displace that investment into more applications. Technologies will shift the workforce paradigm, as they will not only allow employees to work remotely, but also in a better and smarter way.

Even so, as in all major technological shifts, businesses will be facing considerable challenges. The re-skilling of existing employees and managers, as well as finding new talent with the required skillset will constitute a significant challenge for businesses. Moreover, business professionals need to understand that, inevitably, there is going to be a lot of wasted spending in the beginning of the implementation process. The high pace of technological change constitutes a challenge, to the extent that it requires fast learning and adoption. In that sense, legacy companies with their legacy data and technology infrastructure face a major risk of being whipped out.

How can businesses prepare for Edge-CoT? - Experts' recommendations

Structure-wise, a shift to a flat hierarchy is advised. The success of this process is largely dependent on people and their individual contributions, thus, it is crucial to inform the whole organization on what is being implemented, why, and what are the expectations held of every individual in the company.

“In terms of organizational culture, experts advise the encouragement of a risk-taking, long-term orientation, innovation and cross-creation of knowledge. Moreover, organizations should encourage experiments and accept failures, as long as the appropriate lessons are drawn, and fast. ”

Furthermore, is crucial to train the internal IT department. When choosing between investing in the in-house IT talent or hiring external consultants, the experts argue that the type of required support depends on the organization. From one side, in-house talent owns business domain knowledge that no consultant possesses. On the other side, technological specialists and can fasten your pace of adoption, as they bring valuable knowledge and fresh ideas to your company. Thus, a combination of both trained in-house talent and external technology specialists would be the preferred strategy. Most experts agree that companies should invest in their employees by providing formal and on-the-job training and, when needed, support them with external specialists, particularly during the transition stage. Lastly, decision-makers are advised to avoid getting comfortable with a specific model, as companies need to constantly disrupt themselves.

Veronika Koltyukova