Edge ROI opportunity strong – with telcos likeliest to foot the bill for infrastructure

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Almost three quarters of organisations surveyed primarily across the technology and telecoms value chain have expressed intent to increase investments in edge computing over the coming 12 months.

That is the key finding from a new report by the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium (AECC) alongside GSMA Intelligence. The study polled 400 executives from five industries; mobile operators, network equipment vendors, cloud service providers and IoT service providers and system integrators, alongside car manufacturers.

The survey explored not just what investment was being pooled, but from where it should come. Half of those polled viewed telco operators as the primary group responsible for investments in edge infrastructure, while two thirds of operators asserted the same view. 43% of respondents viewed IoT providers and systems integrators as the primary investors.

When it came to the how, respondents noted that intensifying proof of concept (PoC) development was critical in scaling the monetisation of edge solutions. More than three in five (61%) of those surveyed have seen an increase in PoC development and testing, as either first or second priority for scaling edge computing.

49% of those polled cited the importance of strengthening cross-industry collaboration on edge infrastructure. “Cross-industry collaboration is key,” said Dr. Ryokichi Onishi, AECC president and chair, whose appointment to the role was also announced. “Understanding end user requirements remains pivotal for the successful implementation of edge computing, especially for connected vehicle services,” the Toyota executive added.

While these statistics comprise the meat of the report, the accompaniment is in GSMA’s wider commentary on the edge space. Thanks to multiple areas of convergence, from growing IoT deployments, to 5G network expansion, and exponential data traffic growth, combined with a few tentative economic tailwinds, the signs are positive. “In short, edge is coming into its own after several false dawns,” the report noted.

Integrating edge into existing IT enterprise networks remains a challenge, though the report advises that enterprises should view edge computing as a component of a broader digital strategy. Looking at the automotive industry specifically, positive sentiment remains around deploying edge for areas such as security and data storage within connected vehicles; 15% of car manufacturers expect to generate up to a 20% uplift on 2022 revenues as a result.

AI and 5G are seen as pivotal enabling technologies. For the former, experimentation with large language models (LLMs) embedded within computing are ‘bringing functionality to software not previously possible’, the report notes. For the latter, it is more of a symbiotic relationship. 5G is key to edge because of greater speed; GSMA notes that 5G standalone (5G SA) means a portion of the network can be allocated according to the needs of specific edge use cases. Edge is key to 5G, meanwhile, to enable AI/ML capabilities to be pushed to the edge of networks, as well as help create new revenue streams.

This is by no means the only report which is bullish on edge computing for the enterprise. In September, Accenture found that more than four in five (83%) C-suite executives polled saw edge as ‘essential’ to remaining competitive in the future.

You can read the full report, ‘Edge compute: Coming to a place near you,’ here.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

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