Nearly all of us thought the Internet was the most revolutionary breakthrough in the storage and transfer of information in the early nineties.
Suddenly, there was a way to share information faster than ever before, and this technology unlocked an unbelievable amount of opportunity for business that could never have existed before.
A few decades went by, and more information was generated, and mobile devices emerged on the scene, which put directly into our hands an even higher level of connectivity to that information. Now, we have the cloud, a huge storage space for the data humankind generates every minute.
Even as I write this article, each character is being stored in the cloud in real time! So how much more connected could we possibly get?
While storing all this data is important, the need to access it quickly and benefit from its application is just as vital, if not more so.
This is where the concept of edge computing comes in: a type of digital framework where the processing of data happens as close to the source as physically possible. The physical piece of the framework at play here consists of automation controllers that can be located in nearly everything thanks to the acceleration of dematerialization.
I understand that this may sound an awful lot like “tech speak.” Therefore, let me collate three examples below to paint a real-world picture of how edge computing works and where it is currently evolving to transform industries for the better.
Drones are commonly used professionally as a more affordable way to survey an area without having to enlist a helicopter and pilot.
Whether a drone is deployed in a nonemergency situation, such as land surveying for a developer, or in an emergency, like tracking wildfires that have spread across Northern California, it has traditionally relayed information back to a home base of sorts, recording what it observes and informing a team on the ground.
Just having the ability to do that is impressive; however, edge computing is quickly transforming drones, and further, the duties of drone pilots. By bringing the processing power on board a drone, it can now take action on data it collects and essentially skip the step of having to relay information back to its home base.
Especially in an emergency, being able to alert local authorities without having to travel all the way back to a home base helps solve a problem much quicker than ever before.
The manufacturing industry has a lot of moving parts, no matter what type of manufacturing is being performed. These moving parts can fail, and when they do, the occurrence usually causes a tremendous loss of time and money for an organization.
Edge computing solves this problem by moving preventative maintenance of machinery both on-site and off-site into a new category called “predictive maintenance.”
Let’s think about these two concepts in relation to my Anticipatory mindset versus an agile one. Agile mindsets are those of protecting and defending the status quo, often coupled with a tremendous effort to put out fires as they ignite. In a sense, they are preventative in nature. Conversely, an Anticipatory mindset is one that is predictive in nature, where we use the information at hand - or Hard Trends and Soft Trends - to pre-solve problems before they occur.
On a digital level, anticipation is what edge computing and predictive maintenance does for manufacturing. Using a set of predetermined parameters, a machine can determine way ahead of time when it will need maintenance, compared to preventative maintenance, which is merely a schedule of when to perform maintenance on said machine as a way to try staying ahead of issues.
With the low latency of 5G connectivity, you can imagine just how realistic augmented reality (AR) has become in recent years in something like the gaming industry. But what about the professional world?
The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 sent corporations of all sizes into a tailspin of remote work while they tried to learn how to keep their workforce productive from afar. I discuss in my Anticipatory Leader System that we only move forward with technological disruption and change, we never go back.
Because of this, remote work is certainly here to stay, and it will expand to different departments at companies and transform massively thanks to edge computing and AR. For instance, an employee will soon be able to put on AR glasses in a shop or warehouse and allow a remote worker to see exactly what they’re seeing, facilitating the ability of these two team members to fix errors and work seamlessly from afar.
This application of edge computing is not only meant to improve business processes, it also opens the door for individuals to live and work from nearly anywhere in the world in ways never before thought possible.
I want to be clear as I conclude: Edge computing is not here to replace human beings, it is merely going to reposition many.
We live in a both/and world, as I’ve discussed numerous times in previous articles and throughout my Anticipatory Leader System. Edge computing and other transformative technologies that emerge in this world are Hard Trends, but how you leverage them is entirely up to you.
The best way to work with edge computing is by using anticipation to pre-solve problems that its disruptive nature will cause for you and your organization.
The time is now to perfect your Anticipatory mindset as a business leader in a digitally disruptive world. Explore my Anticipatory Leader System today and learn how you can turn disruptions like edge computing into a new opportunity never before seen, similar to what took place at the dawn of the Internet years ago.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.