There’s often a significant lag between the introduction of a new technology and when it’s eﬀectively implemented. But potential 5G applications in the business world oﬀer a rare opportunity to close that gap quickly.
5G network technology isn’t just the next generation of wireless. It can have a massive impact on product development, customer experience, supply chain visibility, quality control and service delivery. Plus, with ultrafast throughput, the potential to carry large data volumes for multiple users at the same time and superlow latency, 5G should amplify the eﬀectiveness of other technologies, from artificial intelligence (AI) to edge computing, causing a flywheel eﬀect. This is all well and good, but it’s easier to visualize how 5G can empower business when you look at some potential 5G application scenarios and the transformations they could enable.
Online shopping catalyzed a technological revolution in retail. Innovations such as personalized shopping and contactless payment have continued to change the way consumers shop. 5G should open the door for yet another seismic shift—one that will be greatly needed to bring customers back into the store.
Interactive displays driven by AI could gather data from embedded sensors and use the 5G network’s high capacity and low latency to power their algorithms. Retailers could use them to create a unique shopping experience that sets them apart from their competition.
Imagine that a person with no intention to shop walks past a store display window. When they glance in, they don’t see a mannequin, but a rendering of themselves wearing a bespoke outfit. Or maybe the would-be customer doesn’t even look in the store window and is instead greeted on the sidewalk by a 3D fashion model that invites them into the store.
And while the concept of personalized shopping may have changed retail more than a decade ago, machine learning powered by 5G could give smart devices the capability to guide customers through a store in real time, facilitating deeper, richer, stickier and more cost-eﬀective engagement.
These technologies aren’t just limited to retail, though. 5G, AI and edge computing could also have a big impact on the way we manage people in hospitals, event spaces or even your typical work environments.
Smart, responsive things
Everyday objects like thermostats, refrigerators and speakers have already been empowered by IoT technology. But 5G could make them even more powerful—networks such as Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband will eventually handle 10 to 100 times more connected devices per square kilometer than 4G can.
5G’s massive capacity could also push forward autonomous vehicle adoption, and with cellular vehicle-to-everything (CV2X), we should see the enablement of real-time connections between vehicles, pedestrians, traﬃc infrastructure and cloud services.
Drones could also play an enhanced role in healthcare and emergency response, delivering medical supplies to satellite map coordinates or uploading on-the-ground situational data to the cloud to equip and rightsize response teams.
Imagine how else connected devices could enhance your business: increasing energy eﬃciency in buildings, assisting with stock management in retail environments or improving onsite security, to name a few.
Eﬃcient, cost-eﬀective processes
Logistics, factories and parts of the supply chain will use AI, machine learning and IoT for their unique purposes.
AI applications operating with a 5G infrastructure can transform your business operations and processes. Machine and computer vision operating with a firm’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform can turn video into an analytical tool. In a factory setting, it can enable automatic inspection on the production line to ensure consistent quality and can alert and respond in near real time to remove faulty products while automatically updating orders and workflows. Also, mobile-enabled software enhancements could allow for better situational awareness, data sharing and coordinated driving between vehicles in a fleet.
Employees prepped for the future
Once you understand and appreciate the power of 5G, the next step is to ensure that your teams can capitalize on its benefits. Start by thinking about how technologies underpinned by 5G, such as collaborative robots (cobots), might require upskilling. Some roles will involve managing information presented or actuated in diﬀerent ways and using tools such as AI and IoT to inform data-driven decision-making.
5G’s key performance attributes—throughput, service deployment, mobility, connected devices, energy eﬃciency, data volume, latency and reliability—should make remote work easier and more eﬃcient for businesses, making it their new normal.
The 5G applications we see today are just the beginning of how business will change. Leaders should use them to inspire strategies that ensure that every change moves the business forward.