Accelerating Innovation and Strategic Advantage with 5G Business Solutions

Accelerating innovation and strategic advantage with 5G.

5G adoption is best approached as a crawl, walk, run progression, and most organizations are still in the crawl or walk stages. But it’s when an organization reaches the run stage that 5G adoption will make the biggest impact.

This article is the third in a three-part series to help businesses deploy 5G on a timeline that makes sense for them. See Part 1 (Crawl) here and Part 2 (Walk) here.

Reimagining the future.

Running with 5G is partly about the speed and scope of deployment. But it’s also a way to envision and unleash technological innovations. Examples include:

  • Enhancing the autonomous operations of smart buildings and factories.
  • Creating massive sensor networks for real-time monitoring and analysis of complex industrial operations.
  • Adding virtual reality (VR) and other interactive capabilities to take immersive entertainment to a whole new level of excitement. 

The nascent market for autonomous, connected vehicles is just one example of how companies can make the transition—from crawling with 5G for early product development, to walking with 5G as prototypes hit the road, to running with 5G as trials expand into services across cities.

“You see innovation in lots of different ways in the industry right now,” says David Chan, Director – Product Management at T-Mobile for Business. “It’s happening everywhere.” 

The nascent market for autonomous, connected vehicles is just one example of how companies can make the transition—from crawling with 5G for early product development, to walking with 5G as prototypes hit the road, to running with 5G as trials expand into services across cities. 

With its ample capacity, low latency, and wide geographic coverage, 5G is ideal for supporting connected cars in a variety of ways. 5G already enables capabilities such as infotainment, telemetrics, and vehicle safety. Increasingly autonomous driving is next.

In fact, Halo, one of the first commercial driverless car services, has progressed through the crawl and walk stages and now operates on the T-Mobile 5G network in Las Vegas. “We’re seeing a lot of automotive companies reimagining what cars can do with massive car network communications,” says Chan. 

Few organizations have yet hit full stride with the run phase. But emerging 5G use cases are an indication of the direction they’re heading:

  • Smart grids and smart factories enabled by 5G ultra-reliable, low-latency communications services, with performance characteristics that go beyond what are generally available today. 
  • Immersive and mixed-reality experiences with 5G-powered wearable technologies, as has been demonstrated by T-Mobile and partners for Major League Baseball. 
  • Multi-access edge computing combined with 5G for low-latency data processing at local and remote locations—a key component of factories of the future.
  • Massive sensing networks with millions, and eventually billions, of devices for industrial automation.

Innovation as a strategic priority.

What will be the next breakthroughs? Remote healthcare, real-time analytics for oil production, and environmental research in the field—all of these are among the potential next steps described by IT decision-makers who participated in a third-party research focus group commissioned by T-Mobile for Business.

“It lets you leverage resources,” one focus group participant with a healthcare provider said of 5G. “If you can increase telemedicine, you can expand patient access and see more patients.”

The possibilities multiply when 5G is used in conjunction with emerging technologies such as AI, AR, and edge computing. In a T-Mobile for Business survey of IT and network decision-makers whose companies are using 5G, nearly half (48 percent) have deployed 5G as part of an AI initiative.1 “Our organization is now working on AI services to improve machine efficiency,” said one survey respondent.

For organizations that aspire to be early “runners,” here are a few basic questions to explore: 

  • How do you foresee data requirements changing in the future?
  • What new applications will require even greater bandwidth and resiliency?
  • Will increased adoption of IoT and/or automation require new wireless solutions in factories or other facilities?
  • Are there trends in your industry, such as robotics or wearable technologies, that will drive new use cases?

Organizations that prioritize investment in research and development are especially likely to race toward 5G’s run phase, according to Roopi Crowley, Managing Director, Strategic Accounts – Retail and Oil & Gas at T-Mobile for Business. “The ones that are on the forefront,’’ she says, “are the ones that have innovation centers.” 

The thrill of adoption.

Amusement parks are another environment where 5G’s low latency and expansive coverage offer potential for new efficiencies and experiences.

In one amusement park, 5G was initially deployed for a single purpose—to support the telemetry of a thrill ride. However, the park operator then recognized that 5G could be applied in other ways, such as monitoring and optimizing the flow of visitors through the park.

“It took them about six months to realize, ‘We can do so much more with all of this bandwidth and huge amounts of devices attached simultaneously that we could never do before,’” says Chan. “That’s when enterprises start to ‘run’ and dream of new ways of doing things.”

In pursuit of competitive advantages.

As businesses put 5G to work in unprecedented ways, product and service innovations quickly become competitive differentiators—so much so that project leaders may be reluctant to reveal too much about their 5G-enabled competitive advantages.

Deloitte found2 that 87 percent of the IT and line-of-business executives it surveyed believed their companies could create a significant competitive advantage by leveraging advanced wireless technologies, including 5G. “Organizations moving to advanced wireless are very optimistic about their ability to leverage the new technologies to innovate and compete,” Deloitte reported.

Equally important: Deloitte detected a downside for those that didn’t modernize—57 percent of Deloitte’s survey respondents believed their company’s current networking infrastructure prevented them from addressing the innovative use cases they would like to target.

Many organizations may need help envisioning and exploring the ways that 5G and other new technologies, used together, can help them seize these new opportunities, and begin pilot projects and enterprise deployments. With T-Mobile 5G Advanced Network Solutions, we at T-Mobile for Business are part of a growing ecosystem of technology providers and systems integrators that can help businesses realize greater outcomes with 5G.

The takeaway for business managers? Crawling with and calibrating 5G is the start. Learning to walk confidently with 5G is next. But because the business world moves so fast, they must be willing to run if they want to stay ahead of the competition. 

For more on how to “crawl, walk, and run” with 5G in business, see:

CRAWL: The secret to success with 5G? Start planning now
WALK: Moving from 5G exploration to embracing use cases at scale

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