Edge and IoT are nothing without the network

Simon Bennett

data icons laid out on a map-like grid


25 billion connected devices are expected to be in use this year. For consumers, this means further expansion in smart-home technology, from internet-enabled fridges to ongoing value-add disruption in heating, lighting, entertainment and personal security. But for businesses, IoT combined with rapid growth in hybrid cloud strategies is driving dramatic acceleration in digital transformation, innovation and productivity.

From the most high-tech companies to traditional industries, the marriage of connected devices, intelligent data use and fast, secure connectivity is unlocking business value, optimising workloads and reimagining business models. But when it comes to solutions that involve devices, data and the network, you can’t do one without the others — which means success depends on partnership like never before.


Unlocking the value of data with IoT

Integration is key. Putting a sensor on something and extracting data is meaningless. It’s what you do with the data that counts. Combine information and it has far more value than the sum of the individual parts, acting like a multiplier to however many sensors you have. Add artificial intelligence to machine-read, understand and analyse data (along with discarding what doesn’t matter) and you gain instant insight — all in real time.

Knowledge brings certainty when making decisions based on data and how it changes, rather than on assumptions or too few data points. This affords you an ability to react to circumstances and even get ahead of them — something Rackspace Technology has enabled a wide range of customers to achieve through a million connected devices across 200 IoT engagements.

This isn’t just for the Teslas of this world. Almost any industry can undergo this kind of transformation, benefitting from embracing a mix of IoT, data and the network — which can take many different forms.


Gaining a competitive edge through data

In warehouses, factories and even farming, automation enables remote management and the elimination of manual intervention and controls. This improves consistency, reduces power usage and downtime, and helps companies with regulatory compliance. Manufacturers can improve reliability, speed up release schedules to meet customer expectations, and make live changes in a timely manner, without disrupting existing customers.

In medicine, companies use real-time monitoring and data to improve production, incorporating machine learning to react rapidly when necessary and make future improvements. On the frontlines, instead of hospital staff taking individual readings of single data streams, they can have edge computing devices analyse integrated multiple sources and suggest treatments.

All this enhances focus, with data able to help streamline processes, boost productivity and augment human decision making through allowing experts to spend more time on expert things rather than the basics. And in a COVID world, there are opportunities to minimise human involvement where their presence would be a potential threat to a company’s ability to operate if too many were to fall sick.


Speed to market is the secret to success

Regardless of industry, for the best chance of success, time is of the essence. Companies are under constant pressure to bring solutions to market. Moving quickly is vital. By embracing new technologies and creating smarter platforms on which to build, organisations can give themselves a better chance to survive and thrive.

This is especially true in an era where newcomers neither care about nor are encumbered by legacy. Again thinking about Tesla, that company isn’t hugely valuable because it makes the most cars, but because it’s unencumbered by baggage. It’s an excellent example of how by leveraging first-mover advantage, even relative newcomers can find themselves quickly becoming global leaders, while organisations stuck in the past are overtaken and left behind.

Time impacts industries in other ways too. Consumers are impatient, and so retailers must use data and analytics to get answers to people so they don’t switch to competitors. In health, medical staff don’t demand haste when making decisions, but monitoring, data and analytics can buy time for them to do more in the margins.


Nothing can happen without the network

This is where Rackspace Technology can help suggest innovative, modern solutions, because we don’t have a company’s own baggage — we operate in a manner unencumbered by a customer’s own past. But also, we recognise that as a multicloud hosting and application partner, we are only a piece of the puzzle. To collect data, process it, move it to where it’s going to be processed, and utilise it, you need a network. You can’t have one without the other.

This network has to be reliable and secure. Latency should be minimised. Data that leaves your devices needs to arrive at the other end intact, whole and in a timely manner. There must be a guarantee that capacity will be there when you need it. Only then will you be in a position to take real-time information on events and transform data into actionable insights for your organisation or your customers.


Working together to unlock the future

It’s possible to stitch these things together yourself. But remember how I earlier explained how combining data unlocks more value than the sum of the component pieces? Similarly, the capabilities of cloud providers and telecoms can combine to form something far more than the sum of the parts, which your organisation can leverage.

Rackspace Technology is no stranger to such working relationships — partnerships are part of our DNA. One of our core strengths is in understanding how partnerships can be mutually beneficial and enable all parties to thrive. Our ability combined with a telco’s equity, networking and security provides you with almost limitless opportunity and capabilities.

Through working with us, you get unique, lateral thinking and an end-to-end solution — a one-stop-shop where you don’t have to do the integrations, because they’re done for you, streamlining the decision-making process. Then, together, we can help drive an IoT revolution.


Explore more by reading the first article in this series, "Four ways industry 4.0 can revolutionise industries worldwide and improve human decision making."