There’s no doubt that 4G was revolutionary, helping to transform Uber, Spotify, Facebook and many other participants in the mobile economy due to increased data bandwidth. Fifth-generation wireless, or 5G, removes the latency seen with 4G, and much of what we imagine in the distant future — self-driving cars, remote robotic surgeries, smart cities — will finally be made possible. But beyond this, we believe 5G will bring with it a level of business transformation not seen before. In the wake of this technological leap forward, marketers need to know exactly what makes 5G tick.
How does it work?
5G uses higher radio frequency ranges and upgraded radio infrastructure to handle a large number of devices within a coverage area. Latency plays a huge role in this; in fact, it might just be the biggest upside to 5G. Lower latency means less lag time between a device pinging the network and the response received. With 4G, latency is about 20 milliseconds (which sounds pretty small), but with 5G, latency will be as little as 1 millisecond. It’s this decrease that makes responsiveness a game changer, allowing for more timely applications, plus faster (and larger) data transfer and collection.
As for those futuristic technologies mentioned, they require lower latency to properly function. Self-driving cars need real-time navigation, and the same applies for remote surgeries, where precision is everything. For brands, latency will change the way people consume data on their mobile and home devices. 5G means faster ad load times and increased opportunities to deliver higher-resolution videos and immersive content experiences to consumers.
Faster connections mean more people connections.
5G is set to have a huge impact on the Internet of Things (IoT) — the network of everyday devices sending and receiving data. With 5G in place, IoT communication between sensors and smart devices will become vastly more efficient. Without fear of an overcrowded network slowing things down, there’s nothing to stop companies from deploying more connected devices. 5G makes the connection and interaction between billions of devices of almost any kind possible. This means exciting possibilities to deliver sequenced story arcs to consumers throughout their everyday lives. And because it can process things so quickly, the very hardware of these deceives will shift — processors may become obsolete.
How can marketers prepare?
If marketers want to take advantage of this future world, now’s the time to start. That means having the frameworks in place for a quick transition when 5G becomes available. Whether implementing relevant technologies or shifting the approach to delivery, here are some things to consider:
1. Think beyond the screen.
With processors no longer required in screens, anything with basic computing power can connect to the public cell network with near-real-time high-speed communication, granting access to talk to consumers anywhere and anytime. Think beyond smartphones/smartwatches/smart TVs, to smart barbeques, smart beds and smart showers. For marketers, this means exciting new possibilities to understand consumer behaviors, needs, and interests — becoming a seamless part of a consumer’s daily life.
2. Consider the fundamentals.
Take something like car insurance: autonomous cars are quickly becoming a reality, and with smarter vehicles on the road we can expect lower vehicle accident rates and a corresponding drop in insurance. But how do you insure an autonomous car in the first place? If an accident were to occur, who is at fault — the driver or the vehicle? Before any industry can take advantage of 5G, they need to start thinking fundamentally differently. 5G is not simply an extension of 4G, nor is it merely a faster wireless capability. It is a fundamental shift in the way people interact with their devices.
3. Develop a 5G roadmap to transform your business as needed.
The implications of 5G are disruptive to current business models and could even make your product or service irrelevant. Cable companies are a prime example. When the cellular network can deliver faster and more reliable connections to their homes, why would consumers opt for cable? Cable companies will be facing major challenges to restructure their service or risk becoming a Blockbuster in a Netflix world.
4. Stay customer-focused.
Looking at your customer and how they interact with your brand, you may notice current friction points caused by bandwidth constraints. 5G might just be the answer to a lot of marketer’s woes. But, new technology, once widely adopted, brings new expectations from consumers. With more connected devices in use, we’ll see exciting possibilities to communicate with consumers in new and more relevant ways.
5. Have a first-party data strategy.
We’ll also see the amount of data we can collect grow. That means a dramatic increase in consumer expectations around receiving timely and personalized offers. With increased data collection, new data policy regulations will follow, ensuring consumer data is collected in a compliant fashion. Brands that will win in this new space will be those that clearly define their first-party data strategy — one that strikes a balanced and respectful data exchange between consumer and brand.
5G requires more research and billions in investments before it can be widely adopted. The rollout will be gradual, with 4G and 5G running in parallel. Marketers and brands need to ask: if you didn’t need to consider the friction in mobile delivery, what is a disruptive offering you could make right now? Develop a 5G roadmap for your business and understand where you can adapt across operations to make it a reality.
Chief Executive Officer