The personal use of 5G has been a much-explored topic in recent years, as has the unsteady pace of 5G rollout in the United States. But despite stumbling blocks, even businesses (both big and small) are dipping their toes in the world of 5G connectivity to experiment with new business models.
In fact, some experts believe 5G has a lot more potential to benefit businesses rather than everyday consumers. “If you were to ask a random person about how 5G has impacted them, they are most likely to tell you that their battery does not last as long!” says Allen Proithis, CEO of Capstone Partners, a company providing 5G applications to the US Department of Defense among other organizations. “5G today is a bit like the internet twenty years ago,” he adds. “At the time, the internet seemed like it would be a big thing, but no one quite understood how to fully use it as a business tool.”
The increasing pace of the 5G rollout has some obvious benefits for businesses at all stages of growth, experts say. “5G technology offers a tremendous opportunity to transform, particularly in three areas: Operations, employee experience, and customer experience.,” Daniel Hays, principal at PwC, told Digital Trends.
Considering the advantage of 5G in the field of operations, Hays says, “5G can provide a path for improving operational performance and cost, thanks to the increased connectivity, faster speeds, and lower latency that it provides. This can, in turn, be applied to intelligence and automation for routine tasks. That includes factory and warehouse automation, or perhaps intelligently monitoring traffic flow for major cities and big events.”
Another example is with healthcare, which is seeing a great impact from the adoption of 5G. “The more efficient connection allows for collaboration between doctors and first responders that can end up saving lives,” says Nick Cherukuri, founder and CEO of ThirdEye Gen, an Augmented/Mixed Reality company that uses 5G to connect field operators and first responders to those back at the base.
Beyond operations, 5G also benefits employees, experts say. “5G technology can boost employee performance, efficiency, and safety,” according to Hays. Proithis agrees, saying high data speeds and low latency enable a class of AR applications that can significantly reduce employee training time while increasing the quality of knowledge transfer. He points to the example of “companies like Taqtile (a Capstone technology partner) [that] have created a class of AR tools that easily allows anyone to capture the data around how to execute a task.”
Experts believe 5G has the potential to bring small and mid-sized businesses to a level playing field.
In this process, the task expert can use AR goggles or even a smartphone to document a task as it is performed by another expert. “Thanks to the 5G network, the user can see a superimposed layer of information on top of what they are seeing with their natural vision,” says Proithis. “Anyone who has ever played a modern video game is accustomed to an information layer, and we can now put it to work to drive efficiency.”
The best part? Experts believe 5G has the potential to bring small and mid-sized businesses to a level playing field. “Though most early experimentation is likely to happen in larger enterprises with more technology and resources,” Hays says, “5G offers small businesses the opportunity to connect more with existing customers, access new customers, and achieve levels of operational efficiency that were previously only available to bigger organizations.”
“Just like other new technologies, 5G will trickle down to everyone, just more quickly than usual,” Proithis says.
Yet despite the numerous advantages, 5G, like other technologies, comes with its own set of drawbacks.
“Access is the number one challenge in adopting 5G,” says Delmond Newton, founder and CEO of Groopview, a co-viewing application capitalizing on the use of 5G networks. “5G technology is still being implemented across the U.S., but there are a lot of hurdles in the way, especially in rural areas where the infrastructure is lacking.” That’s proved particularly true for consumer-level 5G home internet, which has faced technical challenges and is not widespread enough to gain adoption.
The bottom line that all the experts Digital Trends spoke to agree on is that making the most out of 5G will take time. There will be a huge learning curve as companies try to figure out how best to take advantage of the innovations but these are all problems that can be solved, perhaps even as soon as the coming year, according to Marc Price, CTO of MATRIXX Software, a 5G monetization company. “Over the coming year, we will witness an explosion in supporting hardware and software solutions, as well as with systems integrators who understand how to apply the technology.”
Proithis agrees, “Soon, the only limitation to benefiting from 5G will be a company’s creativity and willingness to learn.”