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October 1, 2021
By Greg Hookings
Channel partners are using edge computing as a pathway through the COVID-19 pandemic and as a foundation for future revenue growth as industries confront a new normal.
Systems integrators (SIs), value-added resellers (VARs) and distributors have been presented with a variety of unexpected challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their operating model, traditionally conducted in person, has had to move into a virtual environment. More important, though, channel partners face questions about how best to support their customers and preserve revenue in a time of change and uncertainty.
For channel partners, a focus on key customers is yielding the best results. By coming to grips with the specific challenges in key sectors, they’re able to recommend the right technologies that support a strategic approach to improving their customers’ business resilience. This process can create value that extends far beyond surviving COVID-19 and further entrenches those business relationships, to the benefit of industry as a whole.
Edge computing is perhaps the best example of a technology being recommended and implemented by channel partners that helps customers to resolve current operational challenges while positioning them for future success.
Edge computing has, for some time, been seen as a central plank in the digital transformation that will define sustainability and success in a time of change. The pandemic has accelerated the change and shown clearly that this technology has come of age. The principles of edge computing are applicable across all industrial sectors for channel partners, and this broad application enables them to offer a flexible suite of solutions to a range of customer challenges.
Built on a principle of distributed compute architecture, edge computing is at the heart of modernisation for manufacturing plants, assets and infrastructure for better management, insight and efficiency. It enables data collection from the furthest reaches of an enterprise – the very edge of operations – and eliminates the need to send that data off-site. By processing and computing at source, real-time decision making becomes possible.
Apart from the latency and bandwidth reductions associated with edge computing, a well-implemented edge computing platform can be used to significantly reduce equipment and device downtime. Downtime reduction results in improvements in productivity, efficiency and regulatory compliance, which can be seen in the bottom line. Further, that real-time visibility underpins future improvements, such as improved asset utilisation and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), better maintenance workflows and the full realisation of human potential within a business.
Considering the size of the shock that COVID-19 caused to businesses, it’s remarkable how quickly channel partners and their customers have been able to adapt. As an understanding of the implications of the pandemic becomes clearer to their customers, the door has opened for …
… SIs and distributors to deliver technology that meets the challenges and sets them on course to bring forward their mid- to longer-term digital transformation efforts at the same time.
Edge computing offers three important examples of this paradigm:
Enabling remote monitoring. One challenge of Covid-19 for all businesses was a reduction of personnel onsite. Not only that, but should the reduced workforce require IT support or a specialised engineer (depending on the sector), that help is now often even further away. This could mean lost products, a low overall equipment efficiency, lost data and in some case lost customers. Edge computing provides effective remote monitoring and visualisation capabilities. Such real-time visibility is crucial for managers and maintenance engineers located away from critical assets to coordinate skeleton on-site teams.
Predictive analytics. A common initiative in the manufacturing world, predictive analytics has far-reaching benefits. With edge computing deployed, the platform will be collecting valuable use data from the devices on the network, whether that is a high-cost production line, a renewable energy wind farm or a building’s security system. With computing power at the edge, managers don’t simply have to recover from failure, they can prevent it from happening by monitoring unusual patterns, temperatures or performance data and taking remedial action before a failure.
Zero touch management. Channel partners understand their customers and know how to make their lives easier with technology. This is more important than ever when working in the new normal, as customers have even less time to sweat the small stuff and need to focus on key work higher up the value-chain. This is where channel partners come in, by bringing in an edge computing platform that is self-monitoring and self-healing. If problems occur, that means they generally can be solved with minimal effort, and IT knowledge/support isn’t required at remote edge computing deployments.
Like friendships, customer relationships are deepened in challenging times, often more so than in good times.
Supporting valued customers through the pandemic and into a better, more resilient future isn’t easy for channel partners who face economic and pandemic headwinds of their own, but it will define their future relationships. By helping customers understand the value of edge computing and demonstrating its credentials in the face of the current challenges, channel partners can protect investment now and into the future while offering a launchpad for bouncing back stronger than ever.
Greg Hookings is head of business development – digitalisation, at Stratus Technologies. He has extensive experience in delivering edge computing and availability solutions across EMEA, Americas and Asia and is responsible for the development of the ztC Edge, the zero-touch automated edge computing platform. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @StratusAlwaysOn on Twitter.
Read more about:VARs/SIs
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