5G-enabled automation can boost efficiency, savings, and customer experiences.

Automation is a key strategic component for a growing number of forward-looking business managers. And increasingly, they’re turning to 5G’s reliable, low-latency connectivity to deliver the efficiencies, savings, and innovation they’re after.

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  • Business process automation, including robotic process automation, is a strategic imperative as companies look to increase productivity and reduce costs.

  • 5G enables “hyperautomation”—the ability to automate many business and IT processes quickly.

  • 5G can lead to more accurate insights and better decision-making, impacting KPIs in meaningful ways.

When we say 'automation,' what exactly are we talking about? It ranges from business-process automation—things like inventory management and sensor-enabled building management—to robotic process automation on the factory floor and elsewhere.

A growing number of companies are pursuing not just one or two automation initiatives, but many simultaneously. Based on a 2021 survey of 558 business technologists, research firm Gartner found1 that 56 percent of organizations had four or more concurrent “hyperautomation” initiatives underway—and that leading companies had more than 10. Gartner describes hyperautomation as a disciplined approach to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.

5G is uniquely capable of providing the speed, capacity, and performance necessary to improve how you’re automating today and open up new opportunities to increase productivity, reduce costs, or otherwise impact business KPIs.


People shopping in big market with magenta boxes describing items

How 5G can optimize your processes.

Robotic arms working on cars in a factory
Robots on a factory assembly line

How 5G unlocks operational efficiencies.

In a survey of organizations with more than 1,000 employees and some level of 5G adoption, we found that process automation was one of the top five reasons businesses upgraded to 5G. According to our report, “Adoption & Acceleration: What 5G Means for Your Business,” two-thirds of the IT and network decision-makers surveyed indicated that process automation was a reason for their move to 5G.

Why are automation and 5G becoming part of the same business conversation? For starters, consider 5G’s capabilities:

  • High-speed and low-latency connectivity, allowing for near real-time data transfer, split-second responsiveness, and faster overall processing of automated tasks.

  • Coverage and reliability across wide areas, making it possible to automate even in remote and rural locations.

  • Greater network capacity and flexibility compared to previous generations of wireless, making it possible to simultaneously support a variety of data types across many automated tasks.

This powerful set of capabilities can unlock efficiencies across industries—through tech initiatives like intelligent robotics in smart factories, automated inventory management in supply chains, and video analytics nearly anywhere.

But beyond efficiency improvements, 5G-enabled automation can free your employees from repetitive tasks to focus on skills development, data analysis, and business decision-making.

Of course, this can improve employee morale and help you retain talent.

Faster, better, more responsive—and repeatable.

5G-driven automation makes 24x7 operations possible. Automation can also scale processes to get more done—whether that’s the number of customer applications approved, new products packaged, or something else.

Once a process is automated, it can be replicated to other areas of your organization that perform a similar function. This can provide tremendous benefits to businesses of all sizes.

Here are a few use cases for 5G-driven automation:


of organizations surveyed by Gartner had four or more concurrent “hyperautomation” initiatives underway.

Manufacturing: automated transport improves productivity in smart factories.

As product development cycles continue to accelerate, 5G can help businesses carve out efficiencies by making smart factories more responsive and less prone to downtime. According to a report by telecom consultancy STL Partners, the productivity benefits of 5G could unlock $740 billion of value in manufacturing in 2030.

How will that be achieved? The possibilities include just-in-time inventory management—where goods are ordered and delivered as needed—and use 5G-enabled sensors to automatically relay cargo details during transportation. That ensures you have the parts to get the job done on the production line, saving time and money.

Meanwhile, components necessary for production can be transported via autonomous mobile robots, using 5G connectivity to navigate around the factory floor, transport loads, and move heavy parts. And fixed robots can automate visual inspections, flag defects or potential hazards, or pick the right parts for assembly. 5G can support it all.

Supply chains: faster and more accurate inventory management.

Retailers can use 5G-enabled business-process automation to adapt to changes in customer preferences, which might lead to adjustments to their forecasts and supply chains. At the same time, manufacturers and distribution centers can use these insights to more effectively manage products and inventory, as well as fine-tune their stock management. According to Deloitte, such changes could increase revenue by up to 5 percent and reduce operating margins by as much as 6 percent.

For consumers, in-store 5G connectivity can enable augmented reality and virtual reality capabilities, changing the way they interact with brands. Some retailers are providing VR-based shopping assistance to let customers try before they buy.

Sensors located on retail shelves, warehouses, and loading docks—and connected wirelessly by 5G—can be used to track items in near-real time. The result: faster and more accurate inventory management across thousands of tagged items.

5G also allows tracking and recording of shipments across distances, preventing cargo from getting lost or stolen. And once shipping containers arrive at their destination, busy ports can use video analytics to monitor their location and status. 

Smart buildings: sensor-controlled power, cooling, and security.

Commercial real estate developers and building managers face tough challenges, including the need for energy efficiency, lower costs, and robust security. Highly automated smart buildings, enabled by 5G, may be the answer. According to Ericsson’s report, “5G Connectivity in the Real Estate Market,” 5G can support sensors and control of power, cooling, and security systems, as well as visitor services that require high bandwidth.

Using smart cameras and other wireless technologies, managers of commercial business and residential properties can monitor their inside and outside environments, processing video and other sensor feeds to detect problems or defend against potential threats. If an unauthorized person is spotted in a controlled area of a commercial building, for instance, the 5G-enabled network can lock doors and send a security alert. While some of these capabilities may be possible with other networking technologies, 5G goes a step further by extending them geographically across a town or city’s public services.

For all of these reasons, there’s a growing business case for smart buildings. In a survey of 750 real-estate executives, Deloitte found that 43 percent of respondents believed that tenants would pay a premium of up to 10 percent to lease space in a smart building, while a quarter indicated that tenants would be willing to pay between 11 and 15 percent more.

The business benefits of 5G-enabled automation.

Managers need a full palette of technologies to build an effective automation strategy, one that takes into account AI, IoT, edge computing, and private networks. 5G can help integrate these into a tech foundation for business innovation.

The list of potential benefits from using 5G to drive business automation keeps growing. It includes:

  • Reduced power consumption and other cost-saving efficiencies

  • Improved accuracy of insights and forecasting

  • A role in optimizing supply chains, minimizing downtime, and empowering your workforce

  • More effective adoption of industrial automation and simplified monitoring of machines and processes

Of course, it may be impossible to automate the hardest part of business leadership—strategy setting and execution. But the efficiencies and safety 5G-enabled automation can achieve, and the data insights it helps generate, can provide the next best thing: a truly competitive advantage.

Discover more 5G insights.

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