Cost plays a key role in edge infrastructure decision-making

As organizations increasingly implement edge infrastructure and services, cost is both a critical driver and an organizational hurdle. Businesses using the edge see significant contributions to ESG (environmental, social, governance) efforts, improved health and safety, and new quality control capabilities, while having an impact across a broad set of organizational programs. These issues and others are examined in the results of our Edge Infrastructure & Services, Drivers & Inhibitors 2023 survey. Fielded in December 2022 and January 2023, with a panel of 479 IT decision-makers, this survey focused on factors driving adoption of edge technologies, as well as the hurdles these efforts must overcome.

The Take

Survey responses demonstrate that, during times of downturn, as with all IT spending, edge infrastructure is coming under additional financial scrutiny and constraints, as evidenced by financial considerations coming out as the top reason for inhibitors on edge initiatives. However, there is still demand for edge infrastructure and services to help optimize business processes and operations, and as a tool to cut costs. Vendors of edge infrastructure and services need to lead with the business benefits of edge to achieve these goals within IT departments, as well as how edge can be used in attaining ESG goals — cited as one of the top priorities for senior management.

Summary of findings

Optimization and cost savings are the most frequently cited drivers of edge initiatives. Among the organizations surveyed, the outcomes most frequently cited as drivers of edge computing initiatives are optimization of business processes and operations (39% of respondents) and saving money or cutting costs (38%).

These responses suggest that the perceived impact on cost and quality control could buoy continued investment in edge during uncertain economic times. These factors are followed by developing new products to drive revenue (38%), reducing risk (36%) and supporting digital transformation in general (34%).

Financial concerns (such as cost and return on investment) are the most-cited inhibitor to undertaking edge initiatives. When asked which factors act as inhibitors to edge computing initiatives, financial factors (such as cost, budget and ROI) was the most common response (40%). Other common inhibitors include concerns about data privacy (33%) and a shortage of skilled staff (28%).

Most organizations with edge initiatives indicate teams associated with edge are involved in organizational ESG efforts. More than three-quarters (76%) of organizations with edge infrastructure or services in use indicate that the teams working on edge are involved in ESG efforts in several ways, including evaluating how edge can support ESG (30%), participating in ESG discussions (27%), and operating ESG applications or use cases that require edge infrastructure or services (20%).

Many organizations see edge capabilities as supportive of return-to-office efforts following COVID-19 disruptions. Among the means of supporting recovery and return, organizations most frequently cite support for remote or hybrid working arrangements (45%), new ways of serving customers (45%) and automating previously manual processes (42%).

Edge infrastructure and services impact initiatives across the organization, most frequently employee safety, energy efficiency and data protection. More than half of organizations using edge expect those efforts to impact the business at least somewhat in every area presented. Significant proportions of respondents see an impact on employee health and safety (43%), adoption of alternative energy and improving efficiency (42%), and securing data and reducing risk (41%). Less than one-quarter of respondent expect edge to have no impact on any given initiative.

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