5G is making things possible that were previously unachievable. Analysts have long spoken about the potential of emerging technologies, like virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. Today, 5G is helping to turn these innovative technologies into business reality.
We're already seeing how big businesses are using these advances in a range of exciting areas. SMEs expect to benefit, too – 89% of decision-makers in smaller businesses believe 5G will enable the development of new products and services that have not been invented yet, increasing productivity, and maybe even allowing new industries to emerge.
Here are some of the areas of business where you might see 5G-enabled emerging technology having a significant impact in the not-too-distant future.
Data: Creating smarter insights that enable faster decision making
Thanks to its high bandwidth, low latency, and the ability to support higher end-point densities, 5G will allow businesses to collect more data, to analyse that data quickly with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), and to take action rapidly.
High-performing 5G networks will be capable of supporting the processing capabilities required for AI and machine learning. Experts suggest this new access to AI affords opportunities to all businesses, including SMEs. Global spending on AI systems is expected to reach $97.9bn in 2023, more than two and a half times the $37.5bn spent in 2019.
By using the power of 5G networks, in the next few years, your business can expect to start being able to use machine-learning tools to analyse huge amounts of information at much faster rates. Your employees will be able to use their devices to make AI-powered decisions on-the-go.
Cloud: Collaborating online to boost business efficiency
You'll know all about 5G because of its support for super-fast connections on the latest mobile devices. But 5G is more than just an opportunity for consumers to get their hands on the latest devices. Experts say the tech providers upon which large businesses and SMEs rely are now demonstrating how next-generation wireless technologies can boost enterprise applications.
Many of these apps will be delivered through the cloud. More than half (57%) of UK SMEs say the increasing use of cloud computing is planned this year. 5G will provide the platform for those cloud-based apps, from collaborating on documents to sending data-heavy documents and connecting via HD video.
There are also many other ways that the cloud can be used to boost business efficiency. These benefits include real-time updates to apps and features, the replacement of existing disparate applications with just one feature-rich tool, and the avoidance of ongoing switch maintenance. Businesses can also benefit by integrating existing in-house with hosted applications, making changes to apps much more easily, and taking advantage of the scalability that comes from being able to add new users on-demand.
IoT: Keeping your business better connected and better informed
5G will accelerate how businesses can use the Internet of Things (IoT) to boost their productivity. Almost three quarters (74%) of business leaders who are planning to use 5G value the low-latency and high-bandwidth access that the technology provides.
The IoT will allow your organisation to connect all your devices to networks and to use sensors to track how these are used. That improved connectivity could create big benefits for all kinds of business, particularly in areas such as transport, healthcare, manufacturing and retail.
Think of the operational boost that comes from using sensors to monitor how vehicles are running and knowing automatically when a part needs replacing. Or think of the efficiencies from smart lights and temperature controls that will help your business to reduce day-to-day wastage. This combination of 5G and IoT allows for smarter operations in SMEs.
VR and AR: Developing and supporting new ways of working
Experts believe the widespread deployment of 5G mobile networks could help to accelerate the adoption of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Worldwide spending on AR and VR is forecast to reach $18.8 billion in 2020, with researcher IDC expecting an annual growth rate of 77% through 2023.
5G networks should give developers the platform to design new and better experiences. 5G will help support HD-quality AR and VR, which means that users will be able to benefit from smooth, uninterrupted experiences. These high-quality experiences mean AR and VR will be used more widely and for longer durations in compelling use cases.
Imagine being able to train your employees via VR headsets in realistic scenarios, so that they can be trained remotely, helping your business to benefit from a better-trained workforce. AR and VR can also potentially open up new markets, as your business can showcase a product or equipment anywhere in the world without your employees needing to travel the globe. All of these high-performance and data-intensive computing tasks can be supported by 5G networks, with experts suggesting that small businesses will be able to benefit in the next couple of years.
Automation: Using data to power new operational opportunities
5G helps to extend existing communication ranges and enable faster data transmission. That means autonomous driving can be coordinated much more effectively and efficiently – and your business could soon be using driverless vehicles as part of its operations.
Drones, which have also long-been hyped as a means of delivering goods, also benefit from developments associated with next-generation networks. Start-up businesses are already using 5G-connected networks to track and control their fleets of drones.
5G networks will also provide the near-instantaneous response times that are required for robots to process more data in real-time. Businesses are developing autonomous robots that use a 5G connection to perform a range of operational tasks around the business, from cleaning to service and onto delivery. The British government is also keen to find ways to boost the adoption of automation amongst SMEs in the next few years.
5G is the gateway to innovation – and the pioneering developments above are just a starting point. While SMEs should be able to benefit from developments in cloud, IoT and VR in the shorter term, developments in AI and automation are likely to trickle down from larger enterprise deployments during the next few years. 5G will allow these developments to gather pace. Next-generation networks enable continuous and high-speed connectivity, creating benefits for you, your business and your customers. To find out more: ee.co.uk/business/small/network/5g/
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