Digital Transformation: New technologies mean data is more vital than ever before

Thanks to innovations like 5G, AI and AR, understanding the role data can play in an organisation is more necessary than ever

Donal Byrne, technology director, Triangle: ‘5G is going to generate more data than has been seen before at the edge.’ Picture: Mac Innes Photography

It is impossible, or at least inadvisable, to stand still in the ever-changing technological landscape. Nowhere is this more starkly demonstrated than in the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, which are now a normal part of business operations for many organisations.

With its background firmly rooted in infrastructure, IT services, storage and virtualisation, Triangle helps clients to move with the times, and technology director Donal Byrne said that more change is on the horizon.

“There's still a need for infrastructure in the back-end, but where we're seeing definite growth is in security, firstly, and also in 5G and AI,” he said.

Cyber security technologies that were once the preserve of major multinationals and financial institutions are now needed by even small and medium enterprises (SMEs), due to the continually growing threat from hackers. For instance, real security today means adding intelligence and automation into the mix.

“You're starting to see that threat grow, and awareness is growing with it. There is a need to connect with SMEs and provide them with automation and orchestration. It may not be complete AI, but certainly reducing the need for human intervention,” he said.

“If there's one thing we know, it's that security is essential.”


Of course, digital transformation is not just about threat mitigation, and Triangle helps businesses of all sizes understand what adopting the right technologies – and strategies – can do for them, Byrne said.

At the top of the agenda is agility, as this drives real results for customers.

“We tend to drive conversations around how the cloud can create agility, allowing you to get from business concept to tangible outcome for customers more quickly than dealing with heritage-type applications,” he said.

More dramatic changes appear to be in the pipeline, though, and as technology marches forward, the possible end results change and grow, too. While we have already seen how data can contribute to both top- and bottom-line growth in a business, 5G cellular networks are driving a further explosion in data.

But that is not all they are doing, said Byrne. Equally important is that 5G is driving edge computing, where data is processed locally, as well as driving down latency and increasing bandwidth – and bridging the gap to the cloud.

“If you look at 5G, there's something very interesting starting to come out of it. 5G is going to generate more data than has been seen before at the edge. If you think about the use case, the data that is generated there, and that can be generated from interactions, then needs to be carried over to the network. With 3G and 4G that becomes problematic,” he said.

Indeed, 3G and 4G networks’ relatively high latency and low bandwidth mean that industries such as manufacturing, logistics and transport have found themselves hamstrung. 5G changes this, allowing them to bring data right to the centre of their operations.

Whether the application is in smart city projects or predictive maintenance in factories, 5G is the linchpin for a transformation not only of our digital world, but the physical world, too.

5G networks are not just being installed by telecoms companies, either: enterprises are building their own internal networks, linking up devices in factories and offices to share data on a near real-time basis.

As a result, how and where data is processed is changing, Byrne said, with businesses of all types able to shift data around to where it is best suited.

“You're going to have some aggregation at the edge, and aggregation means some level of data and infrastructure at the centre as well,” he said.

Interestingly, this could bring an end to the hitherto endless pendulum swing from centralisation to decentralisation that has characterised the history of technology.

“I can't see it going back fully to centralisation because of the functionality we now have. Things like AR [augmented reality] and VR [virtual reality] require a level of data and bandwidth that isn’t suited to centralisation,” said Byrne.