Edge Executive Insight – Sandip Kamat, Global Strategist, Retail & Industry Solutions, HP Inc
In the lead up to Edge Computing World, we’re taking some time to speak to key Executives from the leading companies supporting the show. Today we’re talking with Sandip Kamat, Global Strategist, Retail & Industry Solutions, HP Inc.
Hi Sandip ! What are the most important needs and use cases that you are seeing in Edge Computing?
Over the past few years, we are increasingly seeing the retail & hospitality businesses digitize their workflows for a variety of reasons like improving operational efficiencies, or customer personalization. COVID-19 has either accelerated or necessitated some of this process. The Edge technologies promise to solve these challenges in use cases such as Inventory management, Theft detection, Customer engagement, Workforce productivity and Promotion effectiveness.
Why Edge? There are multiple reasons. Some retailers thus far have worked with several cloud-based ISVs for solving individual use cases & sensors e.g., inventory management with RFID, or customer engagement with cameras etc. Multiple data silos like this cause a lack of cohesive, real time, actionable insights at the store level. At the same time, cloud has its own challenges including lock-ins, privacy concerns and latency issues. Also, in some cases, it may not make sense to send all the sensory data (e.g., computer vision data in gigabytes) to the cloud taxing your connectivity needs. They might rather process it onsite, take actions in real time and send more of telematics (or trends) to the cloud as appropriate. The pendulum has started shifting and in addition to on premise compute, some hybrid Edge models have emerged as well.
HP has a lot of experience with Retail & Industrial Computing. What are the opportunities and challenges of the industrial environment for edge?
Yes, as a trusted technology partner for global retailers & hospitality businesses, ISVs & channel partners. We have a definite vantage point. We recognize some challenges for deploying today’s Edge technologies for each of these parties. First, we see there are dozens of custom solutions that are hard to scale. This is due to the sheer variety of IoT sensors, toolchains, architectures, and cloud services. For an ISV, this means the solution for one retailer can’t be scaled to another. They effectively need to rebuild them at every new deployment. In addition, many ISVs do not have the wherewithal or expertise to globally support the compute hardware. It is not their core competency. As more use cases get added, procuring & installing flexible compute, or remotely managing those containers becomes challenging. We believe HP can play a role here. Built on the foundation of our retail-hardened, purpose-built hardware that is globally supported, HP is developing an Edge platform to manage the microservices (containers) and add elastic compute clusters as needed from a single pane of glass.
How do you see edge computing contributing to post pandemic business recovery?
On top of the retail transformation that was underway, the global pandemic forced retailers to respond to new customer expectations like Buy-online-pickup-in-store, omnichannel, or curbside pickup. There is enough evidence from multiple surveys now that the retailers with data-optimized Edge architecture were able to survive this disruption better. Nearly every retailer that had Edge architecture with cohesive data handling was able to outperform the market in terms of customer experience. This “unleashing of data” at the edge was able to help them make better predictions and handle the pandemic related shifts rapidly. This has also set them up for future where customers are going to continue demanding seamless omnichannel experiences. This momentum with Edge computing is going to continue beyond the pandemic.
Security and data sovereignty are often major considerations in industrial and retail environments. How does edge computing fit in?
Both security and data sovereignty are critical today for ensuring that the solutions can scale globally. The cloud -by definition- makes it easy for data to travel and be stored elsewhere and to at risk of attacks either during transit or storage. As global economies are mandating the data stay and be controlled on their own soil, Edge makes it easy to process data where it is generated and assign clear ownerships with zero-trust security architecture. As the Edge data is local & under the retailer (or hospitality operator) control, it helps with security to some extent. Again, security is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain, so usual disclaimers apply!
How does HP work with the ecosystem to bring compelling solutions to market?
This is an exciting space with lots of ecosystem players coming together to solve these challenges. We work with our partners, customers and the industry forums. For example, Linux Foundation recognized the high fragmentation of sensor protocols and the LF-Edge industry working group built the EdgeX framework to solve this. As a premier board member, HP is not only contributing to this effort, but we have launched our retail products powered by the Edge framework. In addition, HP is working with several ISV partners and retailers on running some early pilots for Edge deployments. We are testing our curated Edge stack that covers the HW/SW that supports containerized apps, manages the compute clusters, and configures the apps & microservices remotely. We have already started a few pilots with key partners and open to more collaborations.
What are you looking forward to most about your involvement in Edge Computing World?
HP is looking forward to the learning and networking that a global event like Edge Computing World offers. Edge is an exciting space with lots of players coming together to solve challenges in the ecosystem that spans multiple verticals. There are a few emerging architectures, common frameworks, and new collaboration models. HP will introduce our role in the retail and hospitality markets in the exec conference; We will detail our Edge offering in the keynote and we will also be hosting a super session to brainstorm ideas to move the industry forward. We are looking forward to the invigorating few days! Come, join us!
Thanks Sandip ! We’ll look forward to hearing more from you at the show !!
Sandip will be presenting his Keynote on “How HP is Helping Accelerate Edge Solutions in Retail & Other Verticals ” at Edge Computing World on October 14th.