Digital touchpoints force infrastructure players beyond edge

digital touchpoints edge infrastructure
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Digital business initiatives are forcing infrastructure service providers to expand their offerings beyond edge computing technologies in order to deliver digital touchpoint services, according to a new Gartner report.

A ‘digital touchpoint’ can be any kind of interaction with a digital device, product or service – for example, when an individual has a Q&A session with a chatbot, books a flight online or wears a fitness tracker.

Gartner forecasts that, by 2021, 65% of global infrastructure service providers will generate 55% of their revenue through edge-related services that help customers create business moments at digital touchpoints.

“Creating business moments at digital touchpoints is the new scalable way of engaging with customers,” said Rene Buest, senior research director at Gartner. “Infrastructure service providers that fail to embrace this development will lack a presence at digital touchpoints and struggle to interact closely with customers.”

An explosion of connected things and immersive human-machine interfaces is pushing more computing resources and services closer to the edge in support of digital touchpoints. At the same time, an increasing number of organizations are focusing on the edge to engage more closely with customers at digital touchpoints.

According to a Gartner survey, 27% of organizations are already planning to exploit edge computing as part of their infrastructure strategy. By the end of 2019, 70% of survey respondents expect edge computing to become relevant to their infrastructure plan.

Going beyond the edge

While the cloud provides the foundation for agile infrastructures as enablers and technology back-ends for digital business, digital initiative demands at digital touchpoints are different. This is due to real-time decision-making and interaction requirements, growth in data being produced, requirements for autonomy, and demand for security and privacy. As a result, computer storage and services need to be located physically closer to the people, which forces services to be delivered from the cloud to the edge.

By 2022, Gartner estimates that half of large organizations will be integrating edge computing principles into their projects. This is partly because, by 2022, $2.5 million will be spent every minute in the IoT, and 1 million new IoT devices will be sold every hour, said Buest

“This enormous growth will need to be backed by reliable end-to-end infrastructure environments that support proximity, and that ensure low latency, high bandwidth, autonomy and privacy,” he said. “The cloud is no longer enough. Infrastructure service providers must exploit this growth by extending services beyond the edge in support of digital touchpoints.”

By focusing on digital touchpoint delivery, infrastructure service providers can boost their service delivery value chain with infrastructure components that are quick and close to where end users interact with businesses.

Possible services can include:

  • Infrastructure management: This enables an all-inclusive infrastructure platform approach from the core to the cloud to the edge, with the goal of supporting clients’ digital touchpoints. It also includes the requirement of controlling, categorizing and deploying the necessary infrastructure, applications, services and connectivity in a software-defined style.
  • Infrastructure integration: This ensures tight, smooth, API-driven integration of infrastructure services with on-premises infrastructure, edge devices, cloud services, middleware platforms, data, processes, gateways and mobile devices.
  • Infrastructure security: This delivers the necessary services and tools to ensure holistic security management of infrastructure, platforms, devices, applications, data, processes and users.
  • Data management and governance: This provides full life cycle management of generated and collected data at the edge and digital touchpoints. Here, a sustained chain from core to cloud to edge and digital touchpoint must be implemented to ensure data is managed and compliant at each stage.
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