SIs have a vital role as trusted advisors to those seeking to achieve digital transformation
By Greg Hookings, Director of Business Development – EMEA, Stratus Technologies
Across the industrial spectrum, businesses are under pressure to optimize productivity while keeping costs low. This applies to a manufacturer with one assembly line or ten; oil pipeline and gas pipeline; water treatment plant; or pharmaceutical laboratory. State-of-the-art equipment is an obvious choice when looking to increase efficiency, but the CAPEX costs of a rip-and-replace approach are prohibitively expensive for most end users most of the time. To optimize productivity without breaking the bank, industrial enterprises are increasingly looking to system integrators to help implement new technologies that enable existing equipment, an approach that is often best built on an Edge Computing platform.
The Edge Computing market has grown rapidly and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. IDC reports that by 2023 over 50% of the new IT infrastructure will be located at the edge and Gartner estimates that by 2025 75% of enterprise data will be created and processed outside of the traditional data center. System integrators (SIs) who embrace the opportunity to meet this need head-on will benefit as much as their customers. As experts in their fields, SIs are often hired to pilot new automation projects for businesses that lack the staff or in-depth knowledge. In fact, even the most advanced and technically savvy operators need help with new, innovative implementations. SIs that offer Edge Computing to their customers can demonstrate tremendous value and build strong, lasting business relationships for the digital transformation era.
The era of “digital adaptability”
The challenge of adapting to digital transformation has recently been added to by the challenges of Covid-19. The hasty changes that some companies used (often heroically) to “keep the lights on” were often unsustainable and came at the cost of a more strategic approach to digital transformation. Such businesses will now need to review their strategy and develop a permanent system that will support their future sustainability. The important thing is that there is no going back to the old ways of doing things. The new normal emerging from the post-pandemic industry must take advantage of digital transformation technologies, not only to improve resilience, but also to meet the challenge of the world’s biggest problems. In the face of climate change and population growth, industry must be more productive, at lower costs, while using less energy.
This is where SIs are well positioned to help end users build highly adaptive digital transformation strategies that take full advantage of an Edge Computing platform. This often means moving away from traditional relationships and embracing new business models that place SI at the heart of modern, agile implementations.
A sustainable future
End users are increasingly realizing that to succeed in a digitally transformed environment, they must create an interconnected ecosystem of vendors, suppliers and services that bring unique benefits tailored to their specific needs. System integrators have a place at the heart of this ecosystem, bringing together both new and existing installations and systems into data-driven solutions that meet specific short- and long-term business needs.
As SIs leverage their application expertise and commercialize automation, IT and software vendor platforms, they become valuable digital transformation partners for their clients. Additionally, by combining technologies and services from various vendors into a secure Edge Computing platform, SIs can become digital transformation entrepreneurs, selecting best-in-class products and packaging them into end-to-end solutions.
The right platform
The choice of an Edge Computing platform is extremely important for both the future of SI and end users. End users need robust, secure, scalable and easy-to-use Edge Computing to support their operations. The right Edge Computing platform must also integrate with new and legacy technologies to offer the necessary flexibility for a digital transformation strategy. When executed well, an Edge Computing platform can manage data from across a company’s assets to provide operators with insightful, real-time information while feeding information to the cloud for enterprise-level processing. To achieve this, enterprises need to run multiple applications on virtual machines without data gaps or unplanned outages caused by IT-related failures. In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of digital transformation, there must be simple implementation and simple, lightweight IT management that does not require extensive retraining of operational staff. And of course, the Edge Computing platform must fit within existing cyber defenses and have at least similar levels of physical protection as a traditional data center.
By offering an Edge Computing platform that covers all these capabilities, SIs can stand out in a crowded market by providing a robust, fault-tolerant, flexible and forward-looking platform that is vendor neutral. System integrators following this approach can focus on what they do best, delivering the greatest value to their customers and driving every enterprise toward more productive, efficient, and agile operations.