Experiential value creation with 5G across industries
Every new “G” standard in mobile communications has been welcomed with great industry excitement. Ever-faster mobile connectivity and new applications at each step of the way have captured imaginations. In many ways, 5G could be just another rung up the mobility ladder.
However, as Kamal Bhadada, President, Communications, Media and Information Services, at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) stressed: “5G promises to be a lot more than yet another generation of technology, with focus shifting from the consumer towards business requirements.”
He was speaking at the eighth edition of the TCS Innovation Forum 2020, which brought together senior representatives from service providers and a range of industries to offer a balanced view of the impact that 5G will have on the demand, as well as the supply side of business. While the industry experts clearly articulated their expectations from 5G, executives from Verizon and Three UK shared how they plan to service these expectations.
In the words of John Hoffman, Chief Executive Officer of the mobile industry’s trade and standardization body GSMA, “The big winner in 5G is going to be enterprises.”
New beginnings for finance and manufacturing
Hoffman pointed to finance and manufacturing as some of the first sectors to benefit.
“Low latency and enhanced security are going to offer tremendous opportunities for the finance sector: wearable payments, secure trading and process efficiencies across the board.
“In manufacturing, we’re going to see tremendous changes in factory automation, for example in robotics, and many supply chain efficiencies,” Hoffman added. “Everything from warehousing and parts inventory to the end-user is going to be completely up-ended and done in a new, much more efficient way with 5G.” Tata Steel’s digital transformation plans are a case in point. “For a site the size of Port Talbot in the UK, which is one of our two primary steelmaking sites,” said Alisdair Walton, the company’s UK Innovation Lead, “we may have as many as one million sensors in place once we’re fully digitalized.”
While Tata Steel will use a mix of different technologies in its “IoT toolbox” – including mesh technologies, WiFi and wired sensors – Walton expects 5G to step in where current technologies reach their limits. “As part of our plan to digitalize our plants and factories, we will start generating huge amounts of data,” he said. “And we’ll need mechanisms to transport that data securely. 5G fits with that potential vision of a fully digitalized factory.”
Merging multi-technology information
International oil company Total faces similar challenges. It has just launched a digital factory in Paris. According to Sylvain Comiti, Digital Transformation Director for Refining & Chemicals, Total will significantly expand the number of sensors currently in use in its factories.
“We will be bringing together not just IoT but multi-sensor technology – including sound and video monitoring – for analysis. And for that, we really need some large bandwidths.”
Large data volumes of a different kind are a challenge for broadcasters like BT Sport.
“Unfortunately, 4G is a consumer network. It’s a single network, so it is subject to congestion, especially in areas of high footfall and high density,” said Matt Stagg, BT Sport’s Director of Mobile Strategy.
With 5G network slicing, broadcasters will have a dedicated virtualized environment with guaranteed bandwidth, latency and uptime. This has the potential to make mobile the primary link technology – as fibre and satellite are today, he added.
A multitude of capabilities
And while technical selling points are important for the success of 5G, it will also enable innovation in terms of the services companies can offer the end-user, as Stagg pointed out:
“When we did a 5G demo at Wembley Stadium, we realized what creative opportunities you get with a completely untethered camera – being able to go anywhere around the stadium or outside the stadium. You can even drive the cameraman up to the opposition’s bus as it comes in.”
“Making such applications real will require multiple industries to come together to exploit this multitude of existing and new technical capabilities,” noted TCS’ Kamal Bhadada.
Service Providers are at the confluence of trends
Facilitating these collaborations will be a new challenge for communications service providers.
Shankar Arumugavelu, Senior Vice President & Global Chief Information Officer at Verizon, explained, “We have to create an innovation platform with a diverse ecosystem of partners in order to be able to realise the full potential of what we’re talking about here.”
Automation of network and service management is critical to enable smooth co-creation of new services with partners, he added. Verizon recently tied up with AWS Wavelength to prove 5G along the lines of Edge and the cloud ecosystem, for businesses to try and validate their interpretations of the art of the possible.
“The way we look at this is, if you think about the ultra-low latency, the high bandwidth and the high reliability that 5G brings to the table, you couple that with the elasticity, the pay-as-you-go pricing and a broad set of services that AWS brings to the table, you combine the two, now it’s a compelling value proposition for many latency-sensitive use cases across multiple verticals, whether it be healthcare, whether it be smart factory, whether it be sports,” he said.
To Susan Buttsworth, Chief Operating Officer, Three UK, this is part of a much bigger shift in operators’ mindsets which also goes along with the technological move from traditional telco networks to the Cloud.
“It’s a whole new way of working, it’s business ethos, it’s about a strategy that the whole business needs to embrace, not just IT,” she emphasized. “You need a mind shift in how you deploy infrastructure, how you structure your business, how you interface and interact with partners, how you measure success, and how you define cost parameters.”
Summarizing the opportunities of this new era in mobile communications, Kamal Bhadada, concluded: “5G is truly a metaphor from next generational network, into the confluence of various technologies resulting in the fascinating new capabilities both enabling efficiencies as well as business growth for enterprises .5G ushers in the era of the experience economy, where new economic value creation will be achieved with products and services built around experiences.”