Recent research (here) by UK5G, the national innovation network dedicated to accelerating the adoption of 5G in the UK, has found that, of 300 businesses surveyed, 70% are now using 5G or planning deployments. This seems somewhat surprising considering the maturity of the 5G roll out, but these businesses also said they have a plan for how they will use it to achieve competitive advantage. That is a significant finding and highlights the huge potential for 5G in a business rather than consumer context. It is something that UK business need to exploit. In the future, connectivity can be taken for granted, like electricity, it’s what you do with it that matters, so it’s exciting to see UK businesses embracing the opportunity. In the survey 66% believe 5G will make a positive contribution to corporate sustainability and improve customer experience, that’s significant!
The challenges to adoption
However, there are challenges with using the technology, some of which is cost, but possibly the biggest is technical understanding of how to build specific 5G infrastructure and in particular private networks. Many of the B2B applications will need this, as businesses don’t want their internal network to be part of a public network. Many are looking to “Big Tech” and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to improve their grasp on how to deploy 5G in a way that is commercially viable. For MNOs, in particular, this creates a new challenge as, by and large, they are geared up to sell to consumers. B2B will demand a new business model, new skills and new ways of working. Nonetheless, according to the survey, 45% of business are planning to make investments in 5G by 2023 and 66% said industry specific benefits would incentivise them to do so.
The Business Benefits of 5G
So, what are the benefits 5G presents to a business? Well, first of all, connectivity anytime, anywhere and anything. 5G networks will become like electricity, taken for granted, just there, it’s the access to devices and compute power that it delivers. 5G networks will allow the collection of a massive amount of data from connected devices and at the same time access to scalable compute power, in the cloud, with which to analyse it. It’s analysis that turns that data into intelligence, leveraging machine learning and AI, to more effectively manage the business. Add to that access to powerful, immersive visualisation that can represent more easily what’s happening in a business or process and it opens up many new possibilities and new ways of working.
The findings in this research are encouraging. They show that UK businesses recognise and are well on the way to seizing the advantages that 5G presents to transform their business. Whether that’s in creative industries, transport and logistics, manufacturing and health and social care, 5G creates the opportunity to unleash new revenue streams and business growth. All it needs is for a business to imagine how their world could be different, better.