Edge Computing to Enable New Business Models in the Next Three Years, According to New Accenture Report
NEW YORK; Sept. 13, 2023 – New research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN) today revealed that edge computing is set to accelerate innovation leading to new revenue opportunities for companies that evolve from ad hoc to integrated approaches with the power of cloud, data and AI, which is essential to accelerate edge innovation affordably and deliver differentiated experiences.
For the report, “Leading with edge computing: How to reinvent with data and AI”, Accenture surveyed 2,100 C-suite executives across 18 industries in 16 countries. The research surveyed edge adopters across industries and geographies with distinctive, industry-specific use cases to identify future edge developments.
The study revealed that edge computing will be essential to remaining competitive in the future, according to 83% of the respondents. Meanwhile, 81% believe failure to act quickly can lock them out from the full benefits of the technology.
Accenture’s research comes as edge offers a new capability to move computing to the edge of the network, where it is closest to users and devices—and most critically, as close as possible to data sources. Edge computing takes advantage of the growing number of smart devices at the network perimeter by enabling more data processing at the point of collection. Specifically, complex data analytics are happening across vast areas, spanning factory-floor machinery, train-track signals or store-checkout hardware. Consumers today can instantly produce text, images and other media as edge works with AI.
“Now is the time for every enterprise to adopt edge in order to fuel innovation for business growth. Edge presents unique hurdles due to physical limits that require a new understanding of infrastructure, security and user experience to overcome. But with the right approach—where edge is aligned to the business strategy, integrated with the digital core and supported by partners and people—edge will lead to differentiated experiences for customers and employees,” said Andy Tay, global lead of Accenture Cloud First.
Accenture’s research found that edge use is not pervasive and is being applied with varying approaches. Only 65% of companies are using edge to some degree today. Of these, only half have deeply integrated edge into their digital core, which leverages the power of cloud, data and AI through a set of interoperable systems. The survey found four approaches to edge, which consist of ad hoc, tactical, integrated and super integrated. Key findings include:
- Companies with an ad hoc or tactical approaches struggle to achieve outcomes. Companies that use ad hoc (30% of edge adopters) or tactical approaches (20% of edge adopters) are the least successful. Their edge deployments are not integrated with their systems. They struggle to scale the technology or integrate it with other technologies for maximum value.
- A cloud-integrated approach adds exponential value. The integrated approach scales edge and embeds it as a part of cloud-first infrastructure, data and AI. The research found that nearly 50% of edge adopters take this integrated approach, with 79% planning to fully integrate edge with cloud in the next three years. Companies taking a cloud-based approach, using edge as a key differentiator and applying it across all parts of their business, are seeing better outcomes.
- Those applying the super integrated approach are the most transformational adopters, realizing the highest value. Compared with ad hoc, super integrated companies are four times more likely to achieve accelerated innovation, nine times more likely to increase efficiency and nearly seven times more likely to reduce costs.
Additionally, Accenture’s research revealed that, across all industries, a high percentage of edge use cases related to Internet-of-Things (IoT) and connected devices have been implemented in areas such as assembly-line monitoring, quality control and worker safety. For many industries, IoT and data security/privacy are the most common use case type. Other edge use cases are also underway, which include:
- In the energy industries, such as oil & gas, coal and renewables, almost three-quarters of survey respondents indicated that they are working on remote offshore edge-related applications.
- In the retail industry, more than two-thirds are deploying edge in point-of-sale use cases. A similar percentage are also using edge-based robotic assistance to scan store shelves to manage inventory, detect areas that need cleaning and provide security.
- In telecommunications, media and communications industries: nearly all firms (82%) have implemented edge-based content delivery apps.
Accenture recommends a three-step framework to attain the most value from edge deployments:
- Strategize for edge – Approach edge as a foundational capability of your digital core, rather than an add-on feature. Accenture’s research shows that companies with the most success perceive edge as a key element of their business strategy.
- Scale across the enterprise – Build out edge across the enterprise on the back of cloud and integrate with enterprise data and AI applications, not just ad hoc projects. Rather than investing in isolated projects that yield fragmented outcomes, the most successful edge adopters take steps to scale implementation across businesses. They look for ways to standardize around successful use cases while leveraging partners for help.
- Strengthen capabilities – Ensure all employees and processes are prepared for edge. Edge resides closer to the users and data, where tangible actions are translated into digital information. It impacts employee experiences, not just the IT department. Business leaders need to create a culture that nurtures human creativity, flexibility and insight to optimize their digital tools for precision, speed and scale.
About the Research
Accenture surveyed 2,100 C-level executives, 250 of which were CEOs, in 16 countries across 18 industries. This survey was conducted in November and December of 2022, with the goal to understand enterprise adoption successes and challenges around edge and to build a roadmap for future edge adopters.
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