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Trends in
edge computing:
What's next for the
edge computing market?

Author: Shane Schick

The high-level trends in edge computing mean that companies are quickly taking advantage of the speed and scalability and the technology offers them. The question now is how far they'll take the edge to transform customer and employee experiences.

For example, according to a 2021 Eclipse Foundation survey, 54% of organizations are using edge computing today or are planning to do so over the course of 2022. A third of those who have adopted the technology are planning to reevaluate the deployments they've made over the next two years.

Edge computing market opportunities

These companies might be exploring the edge computing market to find out how they can drive further efficiencies and improve the business outcomes they're focused on today. Others could be considering new use cases for edge computing as they digitize more of their operations. One way to predict the next trends in edge computing is to consider the potential adoption and applications from a vertical market or industry perspective, including the following.

Energy and utilities firms will make smart grids even more efficient

The Internet of Things (IoT) has made it possible for energy and other utilities companies to connect critical infrastructure through embedded sensors. This makes it easier to remotely monitor pipelines and other equipment for potential threats and even enable predictive maintenance.

The problem is that energy firms risk increased latency, high use of bandwidth and security issues by sending all that IoT data back to the cloud. Instead, edge computing processes that data closer to where the sensors consume it. This allows for a true "smart grid," where energy companies can improve their ability to predict demand and inspect equipment remotely.

National security teams will close the gap between central command and the field

Accelerating access to information that informs decision-making is valuable in any organization. But for the defense community, edge computing can make a critical difference in challenging situations.

Troops can benefit from having data processed at the edge because it means they can gather insights even when they're working in locations with little connectivity. This could include everything from changes in the weather to how machinery is performing. Edge computing could boost situational awareness during a crisis. Instead of waiting for a response from a central command server far away, for instance, those on the ground can take action that improves safety and the chances of a successful mission.

Industrial engineers will reimagine what happens on the factory floor

Manufacturing involves so many moving parts that the volume of data to be collected and analyzed can be difficult to predict. If moving that data back and forth to the cloud bogs down performance, however, it means companies may not reap the full benefits of automation.

This could explain why the overall trends in edge computing were reflected in Automation World's 2021 Cloud & Edge survey. It showed, for instance, that the use of edge computing among manufacturers jumped from 43% to 55% since last year's survey. This was based on the need to enhance industrial firms' ability to both aggregate and analyze data, the report said.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that processing data at the edge means manufacturers can improve production output, and 50% cited reduced downtime as another major benefit. And don't overlook edge artificial intelligence (AI) trends: edge is increasingly combined with AI and the IoT to optimize manufacturing operations.

Other trends in edge computing to watch

Beyond what's happening from a vertical perspective, other trends will reshape the edge computing market over the next few years. Medium's forecast for the edge computing market included an expansion of what's considered the edge, including data centers of distributed cloud environments. The advancement and ongoing adoption of 5G will also open up new edge use cases while also predicting that telecommunications providers will play an increasingly important role in offering products and services to capitalize on future opportunities.

Questions about trends in edge computing? Check out this FAQ on Verizon's 5G edge offering.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.