As the world begins to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic that has redefined the way people live and work, the proliferation and growth of 5G connectivity, paired with a cultural shift toward remote everything, is expediting digital transformation of businesses and industries.
“I think most people would agree that the pandemic has accelerated the process of digital disruption and transformation in virtually any industry you can think of,” said Joe Weinman, digital strategist and founder of Cloudonomics, in an interview at Mobile World Congress Shanghai in February.
“We all work from home … we learn from home, we get our medical diagnoses from home, and that’s really just going to accelerate even further as we move into a more connected world,” he added.
Indeed, while getting some medical diagnoses remotely during the pandemic became more of a necessity due to stay-at-home orders, Weinman points out that this trend is likely to grow and become more mainstream ith the evolution and increasing adoption of wearable and implantable technologies that will allow people to easily do at home what would have previously required an office or lab visit.
“Rather than go into a cardiologist office, I can use a mobile device to be able to take my EKG and have it reviewed by a cardiologist who could be halfway around the world,” he said.
For that reality to become mainstream, hinges on the course of 5G’s ability to provide next-generation connectivity necessary for true and sustainable digital transformation.
“5G is the enabler that reduces latency, increases bandwidth, increases security, performance, density, mobility, all of the different dimensions that we’re familiar with. The cornerstone of the global economy is digital, the cornerstone of digital is mobile, and 5G is the new mobile,” said Weinman.
As 5G continues to grow beyond its early hype and begin reaching enterprises, organizations and consumers in meaningful ways; the next-generation mobile technology will act as a sustaining innovation for existing market segments, like consumer broadband. But it will also bring about “new market disruption” because the technology is going to be creating markets that did not previously exist.
“The idea of high density, the idea of IoT, low energy for use in factories for example, ease of connectivity, network slicing, all the different dimensions, really are enabling entirely new applications,” he explained.
“As the rapid pace of 5G growth leads to new enterprise use cases and opportunities, businesses will also need to accommodate for disruption to their existing ecosystem, says Weinman.
“On the one hand, you need technology providers with global scale, scope, engineering talent, product management talent, manufacturing talent, and so forth to create these products and services that bring the technology this far. But you also need partners like consultants and systems integrators and application developers that help bridge the rest of the gap so that customers – business, consumer, government, service provider – have the kind of solutions they want and need and are profitable for them,” he said.
“The business impact of 5G is simply better mobility – and ‘better’ defined in just about any dimension you could cover,” said Weinman. For example, when it comes to the auto industry alone, there are several segments to drill down into where high-bandwidth and mobility will come into play, including self-driving cars, ride sharing, predictive analytics for maintenance, and in-vehicle entertainment systems. “No matter where you look, there are these subdomains of subsegments of industry segments of broader industry,” he said, demonstrating 5G’s broad transformational powers.
Overall, Weinman outlines four generic strategies when it comes to 5G, including improved internal company operations; solution leadership, or moving from standalone products to smart digital connected products; better customer relationships; and using digital for accelerating innovation.
While the tech landscape and the culture at large are adapting favorably to a 5G future, that future also depends on telecommunications policies and collaborative global efforts that support rather than hinder its growth and success. “We need policies that foster 5G adoption, policies that allow for spectrum auctions,” he said.
“We need global standards, global collaboration and cooperation on technologies, because those lead to scale effects and learning-curve effects that basically bring the cost down and open up a new tranche of applications. The point is, the policy environment needs to not strangle 5G, it needs to support 5G,” said Weinman.
Should we manage to pull that off, Weinman said, “we’re sitting on the cusp of something truly incredible.”