Organizations are using 5G and edge technologies to improve employee productivity, augment existing products and services by making them more connected and intelligent, and automate business processes.
Edge investments are expected to almost double through the year 2022, led by 5G initiatives. As interest and use cases in edge technologies grow, analyst firms are bullish on the potential of these new approaches.
Gartner, for one, finds rising adoption through its most recent survey of 500 IT leaders. 5G technology drew the highest average investment in 2021, with a planned average investment of $465,000. This was followed by IoT at $417,000 and edge technologies – AI and computing – at $262,000. Edge technologies are projected to experience the highest investment increase in 2022, growing 76% to $462,000, Gartner predicts.
“Organizations are using 5G and edge technologies to improve employee productivity, augment existing products and services by making them more connected and intelligent, and automate business processes,” the analyst firm states.
Other projections are just as bullish. IDC predicts that worldwide spending on edge computing to be $176 billion this year, an increase of 14.8% over 2021. Enterprise and service provider spending on hardware, software, and services for edge solutions is forecast to sustain this pace of growth through 2025, when spending will reach nearly $274 billion.
Interestingly, many of these investments are being driven at the highest levels of organizations. Half of the companies in the Gartner survey say members of boards of directors are overseeing edge investments.
Still, proponents have their work cut out for them. A separate survey of 2,736 IT leaders from Research & Markets finds, for example, that 50% have never heard of digital twins. Nearly 35% claimed to have never even heard of edge computing, with 21% feeling only slightly aware of it. However, midsize and enterprise organizations claimed to have a greater familiarity with the technology.
5G itself is well known, with 78% of respondents seeing 5G being used or considered for varying applications or use cases in their business. In addition, 57% indicated that their organizations are exploring and considering using private wireless for their business.
The two use cases that will see the largest investments in 2022 are content delivery networks and virtual network functions, IDC finds. Combined, these two use cases will generate nearly $26 billion in spending this year. In total, service providers will invest more than $38 billion in enabling edge offerings this year. For enterprise adopters, the edge use cases with the largest investments in 2022 include manufacturing operations, production asset management, smart grids, omni-channel operations, public safety & emergency response, freight monitoring, and intelligent transportation systems. Use cases that will see the fastest spending growth over the 2020-2025 forecast include public infrastructure maintenance, network maintenance, anatomy diagnostics, and AR-assisted surgery.
Across enterprise end-user industries, discrete and process manufacturing combined will invest $33.6 billion in edge solutions this year. Retail and professional services will also see spending of more than $10 billion on edge computing in 2022, while all 19 industries profiled will experience double-digit spending growth over the five-year forecast period.