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Three Edge Computing Use Cases Poised to Disrupt These Five Industries

Service providers need to identify and exploit emerging use cases in key industry verticals to effectively tap into the value being created at the edge of their networks.

April 19, 2020 6 minute read

Edge computing represents a major opportunity for service providers to bolster balance sheets for years to come by delivering next-generation, 5G-enabled services to end customers when, where and how they need them. 

But the value of the edge is not exclusive to service providers, which is why we’re seeing partnerships between operators and some of the world’s largest public cloud providers, who will undoubtedly be targeting the same enterprise customers the operators so badly need to prosper moving forward. 

Learn more: What is Edge Computing? Why does it exist?

Given this competitive environment, it is critical service providers be meticulous in identifying promising use cases on an industry-by-industry basis. Established, well-devised use cases will be pivotal to ensuring edge computing delivers on its value proposition to service providers and, in turn, their enterprise customers.

As it relates to edge, service providers have a key advantage over the big cloud guys — real estate. Public cloud providers have built hundreds of mega data centers located strategically around the world. Service providers, in contrast, have tens of thousands of central offices and cell sites that already exist much closer to end users than most of the cloud providers’ data centers. 

Service providers need to effectively use their networks to be able to tap into the value being created at the edge. They can do this by:

  • Understanding which industries are most amenable to leveraging edge to better deliver value internally and externally.
  • Identifying key use cases in those industries and the related applications that are most likely to gain market traction.
  • Deploy these vertical-specific solutions at scale to drive new revenue streams.
Market research: Key drivers and critical use cases enabling enterprise edge deployments. Exclusive insights

But which industries are most prone to adopting edge computing? And what are the best use cases or applications in those respective industries? The answers to these questions are tricky. And, in all honesty, the use cases that will truly transform the world are likely still percolating as ideas inside the heads of leading technologists and economists. 

“Part of the challenge is that the use cases are still sort of being thought up or developed,” Phil Marshall, chief research officer at Tolaga Research, recently said in an interview

Service providers, however, can’t stand pat and wait. They must act quickly to leverage edge computing now so they aren’t on the outside looking in when it comes to monetizing 5G. Operators therefore need to deploy vertical-specific architectures for multi-access edge computing to provide the high speed, low latency connections that new-age applications will require. 

To that end, WWT has identified six key verticals that will utilize edge computing in the near-term as well as the long-term. 

  • Retail
  • Entertainment
  • Healthcare
  • Smart cities
  • Manufacturing/Utilities

Below, we detail several use cases per industry. Many of the use cases are applicable in other industries, such as biometric payments, which we list under retail but that can easily translate into entertainment, smart cities, etc. 

By no means is this list definitive, and WWT continues to leverage its deep relationships with a broad range of commercial and public sector organizations to provide a first-hand view of emerging vertical use cases and how best to exploit them.

Retail

Perhaps no industry is in more dire need of the value edge computing can deliver than the retail business, which is under intense pressure to compete with e-commerce giants while delivering more personalized shopping experiences for their customers.

We believe these use cases are most likely to deliver the greatest return on investment: 

  • In-store augmented, virtual or mixed reality
  • Beacon technology
  • Biometric/cashless payment

Entertainment

Through edge computing, entertainment companies have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to exponentially enhance user experiences. Entertainment, as succinctly stated in a recent AT&T Futurist Report, will become ambient, meaning we will see and feel the world through new senses and interact with sources of entertainment in entirely new and wonderful ways.

The use cases we believe those most likely to deliver the greatest return on investment are:

  • Virtual gaming
  • Augmented, virtual and immersive reality
  • Continuous, location-based entertainment

Healthcare

Healthcare agencies today are placing greater emphasis on patient experience — new and improved services as well as patient outcomes. Healthcare execs are looking at edge computing to transform the patient experience through more personalization, improving data security and reducing wait times.

The use cases we believe those most likely to deliver the greatest return on investment are:

  • Personalized apps
  • Patient-owned healthcare records
  • AI-driven diagnosis

Smart Cities

Smart cities leverage data intelligence to make informed decisions and develop programs designed to improve the city’s infrastructure and ultimately the quality of life for its citizens. As a result, those efforts encourage economic growth by attracting business and talent to the city. A colleague of mine, Erik Vesneski, recently compiled 11 of the most popular smart city use cases WWT customers have deployed in their smart city initiatives.

The use cases we believe those most likely to deliver the greatest return on investment are:

  • License plate recognition (LPR)
  • Traffic management and analytics
  • City park safety monitoring

Manufacturing/Utilities

Manufacturing plants and utility companies process massive amounts of data across their IT and operational systems. Surprisingly, very little of that data is leveraged to improve better real-time decision making. Edge computing can help collect, process and make sense of data to improve preventive maintenance, improve performance and drive new applications for efficiency.

The use cases we believe those most likely to deliver the greatest return on investment are:

  • Cobotics
  • Autonomous on-site vehicles
  • Deep sensor networks for predictive maintenance, asset performance management and quality control

Conclusion

Commercial innovation — the identification of new technologies and incorporating them into the business enterprise-wide — is hard, particularly when many of the use cases that will truly transform the world are not yet fully developed or even thought of yet, as is the case with edge computing. 

Before service providers can tap into the new value being created at the edge, they must identify and understand vertical use cases and related applications most likely to gain market traction.

WWT, which works with 70 of the top Fortune 100 companies across a range of commercial sectors, is in unique position offer service providers a first-hand view of emerging vertical use cases.

By combining our extensive capabilities with our deep experience serving enterprise customers, WWT can help service providers develop and execute on edge strategies to achieve that will deliver transformational experiences to end customers.

To succeed, Edge architectures must be easy to consume – for both operators and their end customers. Our edge blueprints make it happen
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