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What is Edge Analytics? Significance, Importance, and Use Cases

  • Ashesh Anand
  • Apr 14, 2022
What is Edge Analytics? Significance, Importance, and Use Cases title banner

With data-driven decision-making pervading every part of our life, data and insights are valuable assets for any firm. Businesses have traditionally collected data from various IoT devices and sensors, centralized it in a data lake or data warehouse, and then analyzed it to get insights. 


What if companies could skip the data centralization/integration stage and go straight to the analysis phase? This method is known as "edge analytics," and it allows businesses to achieve autonomous machine behavior, enhanced data security, and lower data transfer costs. 


Simply said, Edge Analytics is the gathering, processing, and analysis of data sent to a sensor, a network switch, or any other connected device. Edge analytics is real-time data analysis on the spot where the data is being collected. Diagnostic, descriptive, or predictive analytics could all be used.


What is Edge Analytics, and How does it Work?


Edge analytics is a type of analytics that analyzes data from non-central system components such as sensors, switches, and other linked devices. In other words, rather than relying on a central location thousands of kilometers away, insights are gained closer to the devices that collect the data. 


On the backend and frontend of the application stack, web and mobile application analytics track a number of metrics in real time. With the rise of IoT technology, enterprises are collecting and analyzing an expanding amount of data. 


However, sending data to a central location and insights to the periphery takes time. Edge analytics gives decentralized and quick insights from data sets acquired at the network's edge.


Edge analytics, in contrast to standard analytics models, places a premium on speed and decentralization, obviating the need for traditional large data collection methods. The notion is new, and it's strongly linked to the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) as a feasible future technology.


Also Read | Intelligent Analytics



What is the best place to analyze data?


In reality, data creation is surpassing network capacity. As a result, we must be astute in selecting which data to analyze, which data to send to the cloud for storage, and, most crucially, where the data should be studied. While the simplest answer is "it depends," there are business and technological reasons for these issues, as well as advice.


That response is determined by two factors: how important it is to examine data in real time, and whether or not extra analysis is required. Then there's the storage requirement (or lack thereof) to meet commercial and regulatory compliance.


Some argue that the cloud is unsuitable for real-time analytics. So, moving all of the data to the cloud isn't the solution because most cloud data is never evaluated. It ends up in some database or bitbucket and remains there indefinitely.


What is the significance of this now?


It allows for quicker decision-making, especially in circumstances where bandwidth is limited. Edge analytics is an area where digital companies are investing heavily due to organizations' increasing reliance on automated, data-driven decision making.


Edge analytics can help industries including retail, energy, security, manufacturing, and logistics make better decisions faster. When an autonomous vehicle hits an obstruction on the road, for example, it must make a split-second choice regarding braking. 


In that instance, the decision speed required is significantly faster than any cloud computing solution can give. Businesses are rapidly implementing sensors and smart devices near the network's edge, allowing for speedier data analysis.


Edge analytics isn't just for making split-second decisions. The amount of data collected from various devices and sensors is continually increasing. Even for less time-sensitive applications, when bandwidth between the server and the edge device is constrained, the speed of data transfer may not be sufficient.

Image depicts perks of using edge analytics such as being affordable, providing quick decisions, Fast digital Transformation, Refined algorithms, Data mining, and providing other various opportunities.

Perks of using Edge Analytics

Use Cases for IoT Edge Analytics


IoT edge analytics are especially useful for systems that require quick data turnaround to guide operation, IoT systems that collect large amounts of data, and IoT devices that must operate off-network due to remote deployment or data security.


The instance of a military drone deployed in a remote location is a great example of edge analytics in action. Although the drone may technically communicate with the outside world through satellite, data transfer speeds are poor—far too slow to provide real-time input. 


Edge analytics, on the other hand, enable near-instant input to ensure a safe mission, but crucial data can still be safely uploaded for additional analysis later.


Edge analytics are also used in industrial IoT. Edge analytics can be used to monitor machine health in real-time to spot abnormalities that could indicate a failing tool, as well as to monitor and provide feedback on production initiatives in a manufacturing environment that leverages the edge. 


Edge analytics' speed is especially useful for IoT-enabled firms in preventing significant safety issues, reducing scrap part production, and providing real-time statistics to production workers to keep everyone on track toward a target. This contrasts with cloud computing, which, while it has a place in an IoT strategy, is too slow to provide the same levels of feedback and security.


  1. Analysis of Retail Client Behavior


Data from a variety of sensors, such as parking lot sensors, shopping cart tags, and store cameras, can be used by retailers. With the use of behavioral targeting, businesses may offer customized solutions for everyone by applying analytics to the data acquired from these devices.


  1. Remote monitoring and maintenance for various industries


When an equipment breaks or requires maintenance, industries such as energy and manufacturing may require immediate response. Organizations may notice indicators of failure faster and take action before a system bottleneck occurs without the requirement for centralized data analytics.


  1. Smart Surveillance


For their protection, businesses can benefit from real-time intruder detection edge services. Edge analytics can detect and follow any suspicious activity utilizing raw images from security cameras.


What are the risks to stay away from?


When companies decide to invest in edge analytics, we've noticed two frequent traps to avoid.


  1. Security


Cloud environments are built with security in mind because data breaches in the cloud may be very costly to a company. Edge security is crucial, though, since certain edge devices make decisions about machine behavior in the real world. Breach can result in equipment sabotage, other costly machine faults, or at the very least, misinformation.


  1. Maintenance


Due to bandwidth or storage limits, some edge analytics systems only share their results with the cloud. Businesses then have no way of reviewing the raw data that resulted from the analyses provided with cloud systems. 


As a result, they must ensure that inputs are processed using the most up-to-date analytics software; depending on obsolete models can lead to firms making decisions based on inaccurate data.


Also Read | An Overview of Computer Vision


Edge Analytics vs. Edge Computing: What's the Difference?


Edge computing and edge analytics are not mutually exclusive, but rather two sides of the same coin. Edge computing refers to the use of devices solely as computers for the purposes of logging events, performing inter-device communication, and monitoring position. 


Edge analytics takes advantage of the same device or devices to process the data that has been computed and turn it into actionable information right there on the device.


Based on the latest two or three sensor readings, edge computing may employ an algorithm that switches off a machine if a sensor shows that the power source is not giving the required voltage. Edge analytics might also do a long-term analysis of voltages recorded over the previous month in order to predict [potential] voltage abnormalities in the near future.


Advantages of Edge Computing


The advantages of edge analytics are numerous, particularly for organizations operating in low bandwidth, low latency situations.


  1. Security


Critical business and operational operations that rely on actionable data are very vulnerable when all of your data must eventually feed to its cloud analyzer over a single channel. Edge computing also aids businesses in complying with local compliance and privacy standards, as well as ensuring data sovereignty.


  1. Preventing latency


Because insights are identified at the data source, Edge Analytics allows for faster, autonomous decision making. 


For example, in situations where decisions must be made in a split second, such as oil rigs, aircraft, CCTV cameras, and remote manufacturing, there may not be enough time to transfer data to a central data analytics environment and wait for the results to effect the decision on time. It is more efficient to analyze data on defective equipment and shut it off immediately.


  1. Scalability


The increasing amount of data and gadgets puts more pressure on central data analytics. By decentralizing processing and analytics capabilities to the sites where the data is collected, edge analytics allows you to scale your processing and analytics capabilities.


  1. Cost-cutting


Edge computing allows you to organize your data from a management standpoint. By storing as much data as possible at your edge regions, you lower the need for expensive transmission capacity to link all of your areas together, and you reduce the need for expensive bandwidth to connect all of your locations, which converts into bucks.


Edge computing isn't about doing away with the cloud. It's all about maximizing your operating costs by streamlining your data flow.


  1. Reducing bandwidth consumption


The amount of data sent from edge devices to the central analytics platform increases as the number of devices increases. Many remote areas lack the necessary bandwidth to send data and insights. Edge analytics frees up resources on backend systems by bringing analytics to these remote places.


Also Read | Data Analysis Steps


5G and Edge Computing


Carriers all around the world are introducing 5G wireless technologies, which promise tremendous bandwidth and low latency for apps, allowing businesses to scale their data capacity from a garden hose to a firehose. 


Many carriers are incorporating edge-computing strategies into their 5G deployments in order to provide faster real-time processing, particularly for mobile devices, connected cars, and self-driving cars, rather than simply offering faster speeds and telling companies to continue processing data in the cloud.


Gartner's strategic roadmap for edge computing for 2021 emphasizes the industry's sustained interest in 5G for edge computing, claiming that edge computing has become an integral aspect of many 5G installations. 


Collaborations between cloud hyperscalers like Amazon and Microsoft and major wireless ISPs will be critical to achieving widespread adoption of this type of mobile-edge technology.


While the main purpose of edge computing was to lower bandwidth costs for IoT devices across long distances, it's apparent that the emergence of real-time applications that demand local processing and storage will continue to propel the technology ahead in the coming years.


Also Read | How is the 5G Network Impacting IoT?


Although edge analytics is a fascinating topic, it should not be mistaken for a replacement for central data analytics. Both models have a place in businesses and can and will enhance one other in generating data insights. 


One drawback of edge analytics is that only a fraction of data may be processed and analyzed at the edge, with only the results being sent back to central offices through the network. This will result in the "loss" of raw data, which may never be saved or analyzed. 


So, if this 'data loss' is acceptable, edge analytics is fine. Edge analytics, on the other hand, should be preferable if decision (and analytics) delay is not acceptable, such as in flight operations or essential remote manufacturing/energy.

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