Dell Technologies exec on AI, 5G and edge computing trends

14 Jun 2021

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Dell Technologies’ Jason Ward discusses the tech trends he’s most excited about, from the future of AI to the ‘game-changing’ 5G.

As we continue to explore the possibilities of emerging tech and the influence it will have on society, it’s always interesting to hear from leaders within the technology space to see what they are focusing their attention on.

Jason Ward is the vice-president and managing director of Dell Technologies Ireland, having previously worked with Dell EMC for more than a decade.

He told Siliconrepublic.com that AI is a major trend that continues to fascinate and excite him. “When people think of AI, we usually talk about benefits in areas like finance, healthcare and business,” he said. “[But] AI is so much more than that and can benefit society in many ways and in some weird and wonderful places.”

He gave the example of bees, which play a vital ecological role in the world but are also susceptible to diseases and are in severe decline due to the climate crisis.

To tackle this problem, scientists have used AI to develop robotic bee drones to help fulfil the pollination role.

“AI is also becoming a part of our everyday routines – although we may not always realise it. Many of us are now using AI-enabled toothbrushes which help in better removing germs and protecting teeth against bacteria. Systems have also been developed using deep learning algorithms that remember your brushing behaviour and can adapt to it.”

‘5G is converging with AI, IoT, cloud, edge computing and robotics to drive forward the fourth industrial revolution’
– JASON WARD

However, Ward said that while an increasing number of organisations are adopting AI, there is still a lot of unlocked potential.

“As the technology develops further, it has the potential to bring improvements to every spectrum of society – from better predicting the weather and offering more accurate warning systems to improving the ability of healthcare professionals to better understand the needs of the people they care for,” he said.

He also said he is excited to see the next generation of robotics flourish, starting with connected sensors in the manufacturing sector.

“Practically, sensors are used on the manufacturing floor to measure a raft of critical parameters such as pressure, temperature, current, vibration etc. Industrial sensors or ‘sense’ is the first step in creating valuable insights for firms as it enables critical data to be sensed and then collected,” he said.

“Without these sensors in place, firms cannot generate the relevant data that are needed for AI or robotics. These sensors aid the manufacturing process as they can act as a quality control or monitor equipment, and if this data can be made usable, it can ultimately help improve efficiency within the manufacturing process.”

Another major trend to watch out for is the increase in cyberattacks, from company breaches to major ransomware incidents. “Over the past year we’ve been reminding customers to increase their cybersecurity as workforces operated in a remote environment,” Ward said.

“Our latest Global Data Protection Index has shown that 82pc of organisations globally have suffered from a disruptive event. Cybersecurity is going to have to be a priority for businesses as they move into a new phase of remote working and we look to a future of hybrid workforces.”

‘5G will be a game changer’

Looking towards other emerging technologies, Ward said we are on the cusp of widespread connectivity enabled by 5G,  with more than 175 zettabytes of data set to be created around the world by 2025.

“5G will be a game-changer,” he said. “5G is more than the next-generation mobile network. It is the digital fabric for our data-driven era. In gaining real-time insights at the edge, companies can roll-out new applications and transform how they do business. From speaking with customers, 5G is converging with AI, IoT, cloud, edge computing and robotics to drive forward the fourth industrial revolution.”

This means a massive digital transformation is on the horizon, and the International Data Corporation predicts that there will be an 800pc increase in apps at the edge by 2024.

Edge computing is a distributed, open IT architecture that features decentralised processing power, enabling mobile computing and IoT technologies. This means data is processed by the device itself or by a local computer or server, rather than being transmitted to a data centre.

“Although we are seeing the accelerated roll-out of telco 5G and growing connectivity, Ireland will need to ensure that businesses across the country can access its potential. With seamless access to 5G, businesses of all sizes will be able to translate real-time insights from the production floor or their fleet of vehicles and use those insights to innovate at speed,” said Ward.

“However, there is a lack of awareness amongst some leaders as to how and where edge computing can fit into their IT transformation programme and how it can benefit their business. An edge can be a video camera, drone, plane, an engine in a car or the whole car.”

Dell Technologies runs 5G edge labs from Cork and Limerick, bringing together 5G, edge computing and machine learning to prototype next-generation products and services.

The team in Cork have previously worked with researchers at Munster Technology University and others internationally to apply these technologies in the area of telehealth to advance the delivery of emergency healthcare services.

“Our team across Ireland is also at the forefront of innovation fuelled by artificial intelligence, robotics and cybersecurity,” Ward said.

“We see these technologies and security transformation as being key to enhancing the competitiveness of Irish businesses as they scale up their growth. That’s why we’re currently looking for new recruits to join our team.”

Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

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