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How the Intelligent Edge has become the new battleground for customer satisfaction

By James Nunns

The business world has entered into a new era of customer satisfaction. Whilst the old adage of ‘the customer is always right’ still stands true, the relationship between customers and brands has completely changed.

In the past a customer would buy a product from a shop and that would be the end of it, the shop would hope for a returning customer, and the brand would hope to develop some loyalty through the quality of the product.

The modern day shopping experience is filled with ways to stay up to date with the retailer, the brand, with promises of savings and so on.

That model is changing again, with Internet of Things devices flooding into the market to help retailers and brands create a more personalised shopping experience and relationship with the individual.

Core to this new model is data and the systems working in the background to process the torrent flooding in from those IoT devices.

Without the analysis process, that data and those IoT devices are pointless.

What the model requires is the Intelligent Edge. That’s where the IoT devices are, but they’ve become intelligent because they provide analytics capabilities, something that was previously only available in either on-premises facilities, or the cloud.

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Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which is one of the driving forces behind the Intelligent Edge, says that it is made up of three C’s: connect, compute, and control.

The connect element refers to devices, people, things, being connected via networks that then leads to data exchanges, and the promotion of both new sources and quantities of data.

Compute is the second element of the Intelligent Edge, a means for analysing and sorting the data. Compute can provide access to applications and provide insights regarding the connected devices and their surrounding environments.

The third C is control, which refers to the actions that can be taken once insights have been discovered. Businesses are able to control the things at the edge and create actions that are associated with the location that the thing is.

To put this into context of a retail store, it could take the shape of a digital price display on its shelves along with smart tags, which are connected to a network. The combination allows for the store to track inventory, see what sells best, and to make the appropriate actions to replenish stock.

That’s not where this story ends though. If the retail store is then able to apply external data sources such as weather, location, and so on. Then a fuller picture can be painted for what exactly is going on, why that person made that particular purchase. Perhaps there is a trend to see that umbrella sales go up 12% a couple of days before it rains, this would then allow the store to more effectively plan ahead.

With the right software and right systems operating in the background, a retail store can significantly change the way it operates so that it can operate more efficiently and effectively.

Before the technology should be considered though, there needs to be some consideration for the challenges ahead. There has to be a strong business case built where IoT and intelligent edge technologies are used to do things such as reduce costs, or generate more revenue.

Security must be a priority. The Internet of Things has come in for criticism for its somewhat haphazard approach to security, with more connected sensors comes a greater risk to security. Connections must be as secure as possible as every device that is connected to the internet is a potential access point for a cybercriminal.

The final element that must be considered is the complexity. This is new and emerging technology and it can be difficult to blend advanced IT with intelligent other things.

The technology supporting this move to an intelligent edge driven organisation needs to be focused on the job, provide security and stability, along with the tools required to gain valuable insights from the data.

The HPE Universal IoT Platform and Aruba connectivity, along with systems such as the Edgeline Converged Edge Systems, which are designed to integrate connectivity, computing, and control in one box, could be considered a step in the right direction.

Because of the complexity of embarking on a new project with new technologies, the sensible move would be to align with a vendor that is focused on this area.

Along with the technologies comes the expertise to get the most out of an investment, to provide support to the project. HPE Pointnext, which is designed to help power the Intelligent Edge, was formed as a way to help businesses to maximise the value of its connected devices.

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