5G is rolling out in more locations every day, and that’s good news for enterprises, which are poised to benefit from all the advantages this next-generation wireless technology will offer. And the time to start planning for how to leverage those advantages is right now.

5G will enable a broad variety of technological innovations that will have a significant impact on business operations, across industries and applications from asset management to augmented and virtual reality to home bio-connectivity. It has much to offer, in so many ways, with its improvements in latency, speed, coverage, capacity, and density. For instance:

Enhanced productivity. Higher speed will help people work more productively. No more scratchy conference calls or hesitant network connections, making it possible to make high-quality video calls, jump on impromptu conference calls, and do collaborative work from almost anywhere. Not only that, 5G can lead to whole new ways to work. Think of simple devices – essentially a screen with a battery and a high-bandwidth cloud connection – that do little computing themselves, but enable computing from virtually anywhere. For example, an enterprise could couple this device with augmented reality for streamlined warehouse operations or deliver premium services via these devices to customers.

Improved sales and training channels. Higher-bandwidth connections to the office and to customers will improve collaboration and facilitate more satisfying sales engagements. The addition of augmented or virtual reality will provide more immersive experiences for customers. These same features can be used to train people in innovative ways, from tech-assisted on-the-job training to aiding technicians with augmented reality-powered contextual diagrams for new and different machinery. These are only practical with the kind of high-definition content and lack of noticeable visual delay that 5G will eventually deliver.

Enriched customer experience. Videos that take minutes to download now will take just seconds with 5G, a capability that can help transform the experience an enterprise can provide to its customers. Retailers can do more to let customers view and “try on” the latest styles virtually. Manufacturers will be able to walk customers through a production process without the need to be on-site. Augmented and virtual reality can allow customers to view your products in detail and from any angle, expediting the ordering process.

Connectedness. We know that IoT holds the promise of enabling businesses to use new data and devices to accomplish more, including automating actions in response to the data that sensors are delivering. It could be tracking every item shipped from a warehouse in near real time or automating alerts to technicians when various systems need attention or maintenance.

Getting ready for the transformation

As we’re already seeing, 5G isn’t going to be an overnight, flip-a-switch transition. It is evolutionary, with the first phase being enhanced mobile broadband that delivers higher speeds and higher capacity. Following that will be advancements that offer benefits in massive IoT sensing and – eventually – critical IoT capabilities that will drive industrial automation and smart factories, smart grids, and autonomous driving.

Because of the technological leap involved in this dawning of the 5G Age, enterprises should be ramping up the pace of their planning for the transition. Then they will be in the best position to take advantage of the immediate benefits and prepare for all the other advantages that 5G has to offer.

What does that planning involve? There are many aspects to it, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Begin a process of education across the organization about the opportunities that 5G brings, and encourage creative thinking among departments as to how they would put it to work.
  • Start to identify use cases that require the high performance, lower latency, and higher densities of 5G for edge computing needs. Then compare those goals with the technology’s rollout timelines over the next few years. If there are gaps, look at near-term alternatives that could supplement your 5G plans.
  • Evaluate edge computing solutions that provide a ready-to-deploy software and hardware stack with minimal needs for customization and which can take full advantage of 5G’s potential.
  • Investigate how you can strategically build and distribute analytics into various layers from the edge, using cloud technology or through other internal capabilities.
  • Determine how cloud service providers are intending to deliver elements of their IoT capabilities to the edge, whether as managed software or services deployable on local servers, gateways, and edge devices.

One thing you can depend on is that new technology will drive new ideas. 5G promises to be an outstanding example of that, opening the door to new products and services that enterprises can offer and new business models that they can embrace for themselves. To learn more about the advantages 5G will be able to deliver to your company, visit our 5G Q&A.