By Sherifa Hady, EMEA Channel Sales Director at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
Aruba recently published a new e-book ‘Opportunity at the edge’ in collaboration with Fast Future, calling for companies to start embracing edge technologies immediately in order to take advantage of the vast commercial potential they present.
It was clear from the global CIOs and future thinkers we spoke to as part of our research that moving processes and applications to the edge of the network will be imperative to enable the ongoing digital transformation of companies, supporting everything from mainstream personalization, to enhanced real-time insight and faster product and service innovation.
But while this is good news for any businesses that are looking to gain a competitive advantage and keep up with increasing customer expectations, the research showed that unlocking the opportunity at the edge is no mean feat. Indeed, interviewees spoke about the sheer scale of the task facing IT teams in delivering these new technology ecosystems, with changes anticipated on both a structural level (adapting the network infrastructure, adopting new innovations, enhancing security provisioning) and on a strategic one (driving a shift in mindsets, growing leadership awareness).
One thing was highly clear. The opportunities for channel partners to support companies on their edge journey are huge, but to take advantage they will need to be competitive, fast and ready to adapt what and how they sell.
So, to give them a head start, here are three key pieces of advice I think our partners need to know as we try make this future a reality.
- Understand which sectors have the greatest immediate opportunities
While the channel will always have one eye on what’s coming over the horizon, it is important not to miss out on the opportunities of today. Though we see edge networking creating future waves across the entire economy, we identified a number of specific industries that will be able to take advantage of the opportunities more quickly than others, and that are crying out for help developing and supporting the necessary underlying infrastructure or over the top services:
Education: A range of new revenue opportunities are opening up that could make a major contribution to the finances of education institutions if harnessed correctly. These include capturing video of the lectures and making them available for a micropayment to other institutions around the world, or allowing external businesses to book classroom and laboratory space on demand.
Healthcare: With artificial intelligence and machine learning offering far greater analysis of patient data than ever before, healthcare organizations have a real opportunity to better understand the efficacy of treatments and medications, allowing better targeting and less waste. With the right analytics in place, the data could also be used to provide personalized guidance on lifestyle management, which could drive down practitioner and hospital visits and reduce treatment burden.
Large Public Venues: From overlaying augmented reality content on games to sharing multisensory virtual reality versions of what the players are experiencing, there are immense new possibilities emerging in sports and live entertainment. Other opportunities of the edge-connected venue include insight-driven personalized food and drink propositions, or at-seat retail offers for instant purchase and collection after the game.
- Position yourselves as a strategic and trusted partner
For many IT decision makers, the challenge of the edge will be ensuring the IT function can lead the pursuit of edge-based strategies and deliver the right level of support with a proactive, enabling stance. With a long list of critical success factors, this should offer numerous open doors for channel partners.
Certainly, IT budgets and investment will have to increase in order to keep up with business need, but it’s not just demand for hardware that the channel can take advantage of. Network security and analysis services will also become a necessity. Partners who can provide strategic guidance on which applications and services (from AI to data analytics) the IT team can use to streamline their work, and then help integrate them seamlessly into the network, will be in high demand. Meanwhile with our research showing the second and third most critical success factors were improving digital literacy and changing the IT mindset there is also a clear need for more skills-based guidance, training and consultancy.
- Focus on securing the network
One of the key findings in our research was that securing edge networks is an incredibly high priority for businesses – in fact addressing the security challenges of distributed processing was the number one critical success factor.
The experts we spoke to highlighted concerns such as the creation of potentially thousands of points of risk exposure across the network, uncertainty over whether a device has been compromised, hacking of voice or biometric security, and fears that IoT devices and sensors are not being built with security in mind.
If there is one offering you should therefore be thinking about boosting with the edge in mind – it is security. Partners who can help customers find and stop threats faster and make this an integral part of the network infrastructure will have a unique opportunity.
Are you ready to help customers take advantage of the opportunity at the edge?