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Why now and what next?

The transition to 5G will be unlike any previous development in mobile communications. The order of magnitude improvement 5G will generate in data transmission will support a wide range of innovative technologies and business transformation needs. 

“5G is going to transform mobile Internet, and I don’t think companies are aware of that. Many aren’t aware of its potential to change how they deliver services and completely re-wire their business processes,” says the futurist Bernard Marr.

As this report has shown, businesses with greater 5G maturity have been better able to maintain productivity and increase customer engagement in the challenging climate created by COVID-19. The most 5G-ready companies are also typically the fastest-growing.

Growth vs maturity

“It should come as no surprise that 5G adoption will fuel future business success,” says Raghav Sahgal. “As with companies that are today embracing private wireless networks for their OT connectivity, organizations that integrate 5G stand to benefit from numerous advantages that go beyond having faster, more efficient and reliable network services. These include enhanced connectivity, productivity and collaboration across the workforce, improved data management, cost and business efficiencies, and incremental revenue growth. 5G will be the catalyst for businesses to overhaul their systems, better understand their customers and introduce a new generation of products and services both informed and delivered by cutting-edge technology.   

“As 5G helps businesses to transform, it will also accelerate wider technological and economic trends: the growth of smart cities, the acceleration of Industry 4.0, and the arrival of virtual, augmented and mixed reality into the mainstream.”  

The cities, hospitals and factories of the future will depend on 5G and the unparalleled ability it offers to move, process and store vast volumes of data. While the biggest challenges we face as a society – from climate change to pandemics – can be better tackled through at-scale use of the data and technologies that 5G will underpin. As Bernard puts it: “5G is the critical building block for the future of a smarter, greener and connected world.”  

5G is not the communications infrastructure of the future. It has already arrived, and the businesses that are harnessing its power have started to race ahead. “5G will force those who ‘wait and see’ to react and respond to 5G and likely lose market share in the process as they are behind the current,” says global technology futurist, Daniel Burrus. “Businesses should ask themselves who they want to be: reactive or a disruptor?”

“Those who wish to be the first to leverage the immense possibilities of 5G cannot afford to lose more time,” urges Gabriela Styf Sjöman. “To capture the tremendous opportunities of 5G, organizations must start or intensify their planning now and accelerate business model innovation to remain competitive in a rapidly digitalizing global economy. Beyond investment in the technology itself, this will require modernizing operations, processes and ways of working to capture the full potential of 5G.” 

Key steps to take include:

Develop understanding across the business

5G is a technology with business-wide implications, and as such must be understood by the entire business. “This cannot be a matter for the IT department alone,” says Gabriela. “Decision-makers across an organization must understand the rationale for 5G, its enabling effect on a range of innovative technologies, and how this can help them to either achieve efficiencies or shape new products and services.”

Think long term – but keep it simple

5G will deliver the most meaningful benefit in organizations that see its full potential – not just as an enhanced communications infrastructure, but the cornerstone for building a better, more innovative business. Companies need a long-term 5G strategy that can see the entire picture, but they key to success is operational simplicity. 

Make it personal to you

Businesses should take time to establish the benefits they need or expect 5G to deliver to their business. Raghav advises that “initial implementation should be closely tied to specific use cases and proofs of concept that will allow project leads to demonstrate the impact of 5G and its potential to add value in other areas of an organization.” 

Trust in the right partner

As the first chapter explained, 5G supply has matured before demand has caught up in all industries and countries, meaning this is not a new or unproven area of technology and there is increasing availability of solutions tailored to industrial needs. Organizations should trust the experts to advise on the right path for their business – whether that’s a fully-fledged 5G network or private wireless.

Collaborate – and be part of the global community

For 5G to succeed, organizations need to partner on a level not seen before. They need to partner on standards, solutions and applications to raise awareness, improve understanding, boost confidence, open up new use cases and create the demand that CSPs need to see in order to pivot their businesses towards enabling the supply.

For some companies it may seem counterintuitive to invest in 5G at a time of such economic risk and uncertainty. Yet the circumstances of COVID-19 have increased every company’s reliance on digital connectivity. Digital transformation, already a necessity, has become even more urgent. “Tomorrow’s winners will be those that make the best technological investments today, and that dare to adopt innovative business models that enable them to get the most out of the technology,” concludes Gabriela.

“Any business that wants to come out of this pandemic situation, and be successful, has to invest now,” says Bernard. “We’ve seen this with all previous economic downturns and other crises. Companies that invest strategically during these times emerge much stronger and leaving competitors behind.” 

And there is no technology that better fulfils the definition of strategic investment than 5G.

To conclude our 5G Readiness Report, Nokia President and CEO, Pekka Lundmark, and global influencers Daniel Burrus and Dr Sally Eaves, have given their view on what 5G means for businesses, why now is the time to act, and the benefits it will bring to society as a whole. 

Seize the potential – Pekka Lundmark, Nokia President and CEO

The economic case for 5G is clear. This report finds businesses which are furthest along on 5G deployment have also seen the biggest increases in productivity. And employees at those early adopter companies are three times as likely to have confidence in their organization’s ability to cope with COVID-19 disruption.

But the implications of 5G are far bigger - 5G is a game-changer economically and environmentally. It has the potential to help lift global economies by sparking a huge increase in productivity in a sustainable way.  

5G will transform entire industries by enabling widespread digitalization and automation. Early adopters obtain both a competitive advantage and the means to make their businesses more resilient and better equipped to deal with another global crisis. 

How? 

Through fast, secure, low latency connectivity, supported by artificial intelligence and edge computing, unlocking new opportunities for businesses to optimize their operations. 5G will dramatically reduce the energy required to transfer bits of data, cutting energy waste and conserving natural resources.

The 5G-enabled Fourth Industrial Revolution is already under way. But the outcome of this revolution will not be determined by technology, but by the actions people take. If we want to drive a global economic recovery, solve the big problems like climate change, and ensure everyone has access to critical connectivity in this new era, then now is the time to seize the potential of 5G and shape this technological revolution for the good of all.