The only certainty is that everything changes, in particular, the pace of technological change over the past few hundred years has been staggering. The advent of 5G promises the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution.

5G – a reminder

5G promises improved speed; reduced latency; and greater capacity. From a business perspective, we will be able to work faster and more efficiently than ever before. It won’t just be phones that are smart-enabled, everything will be connected, with continuous flows of intelligent data helping businesses to be better managed. The use of robots will become commonplace Great strides will mean that virtual and augmented reality are also used much more, in ways previously unimagined.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. As with all new technology, it will open up advances which we just cannot anticipate, creating new markets and industries.

So, business needs to be ready for this change.

How will 5G change business?

Let us consider a number of examples as to how businesses may change:

  • speed – faster turnaround of tasks than is currently the case, enabling improved output. Could also free-up human resource for more value-add tasks;
  • efficiency – leaner process could lead to, for example, less wastage of raw materials and less rejections during the quality assessment process;
  • data – the flow of intelligent data will aid business in many ways. For example, better information in real time for strategic planning or advertising; or real-time diagnostics to identify and remedy (or even predict) issues arising;
  • inventory tracking – businesses will be able to use smart devices to better track inventory. Indeed, smart technology can track the supply train from the ordering of raw materials to the sale the end-user; and
  • remote working – improved connectivity will lead to more flexible working, including remote working. For example, for meetings, the use of virtual reality will be a more viable option than physical meetings or conference calls.

Businesses need to consider how and when to change not whether they should change. Some may be reluctant to change, there is a risk such businesses will be left behind.

What about business models?

There are a number of factors to consider, which include:

  • revenue streams – will the introduction impact upon pricing? Will new revenue streams open up/old markets close?
  • costs – will there be efficiencies to be gained with the introduction of 5G? Will there be additional costs, either of a one-off or continuing nature;
  • people – will there be a need to train or redeploy resources? Will recruitment be required? Who will embed the incoming changes in your business? And
  • data – the increased analytics available will impact on the design and implementation of any go-to-market strategy.

All businesses will need to consider the potential opportunities and risks and act accordingly.

In conclusion

This is not exhaustive as to the impact on business by 5G but It is meant to provide some food for thought. There are many model variations (for example, does a business continue to sell products or does it move to provision of a service) and there are many other factors (such as cyber security).

The main point to stress is that this new technology is already impacting businesses and will do so increasingly over the coming years. Business needs to be ready.


Matt AppletonMatt Appleton

Tax Director | RSM