Greater network stability, faster data speed, lower latencies – we are now all well aware of the technical advantages of 5G. The technical improvements allow smart additional functions that pave the way for entirely new business models and processes. If 5G is a game changer for almost every industry, then the new standard really will allow Industry 4.0 to take off.
Joe Wilke, an expert in Industry 4.0 at Ericsson, believes there is tremendous growth potential. For him, 5G is not only a further development of LTE, but an entirely new platform. For instance, thanks to private networks that enable individual production facilities to network quickly and wirelessly through their own transmission masts. 5G allows factories, farms and logistics centres to analyse and optimise their processes in real time. Intelligent machines react to changes and adapt processes within milliseconds.
With data, we will come across new things, learn faster and better, set up new logistics and really be able to deliver in real time. This combination, and communicating directly with the customer as well, will create new opportunities."
5G is the key to the cloud
Apart from the short latency times, the tremendous data throughput, i.e. the transferable amount of data, is the most important feature of 5G. The gathering and dispatch of large quantities of data enables the use of new AI technologies. This allows automated analyses to be created and even more precise findings to be obtained – and since AI recognises itself what data is relevant, this in turn leads to an even better data acquisition.
Of course, this system of digital feedback loops will only work if there is a powerful infrastructure behind the cloud on which the data is stored. Ralph Kink, Director Technology and Solution Development for Microsoft Germany, explains: "Everything that happens on the subject of innovation and transformation is based on data." So the size of the data packets in data centres is constantly increasing. For smart factories in particular, data volumes of one petabyte can quickly be generated – every day. Only 5G offers the necessary infrastructure to transfer such amounts of data securely and quickly.
The unstoppable revolution
However, data analytics can do much more than just optimise business processes. They are essential for new industry companies in particular in order for them to proactively determine customer requirements. Thanks to these new analyses, retailers and product developers are able to open up entirely new markets. And not only are the sales figures relevant, but so too is customer behaviour. Trailblazer Amazon is developing new products based on the search queries entered by customers. This approach is now also being used by smaller retailers with a hybrid shopping model and their own apps.
And the digital transformation isn't going to stop there. "Anything that can be digitalised will eventually be digitalised," says Peter Hinssen, specialist in digital development, speaker and author. "And this is going to open up entirely new paths before our very eyes. Time to tread these paths," Hinssen states. For many companies, 5G will be the key to realising this vision.
Exponential change is a core feature of the digital ecosystem. Basically, everything is getting faster and faster, and it's becoming more and more difficult to predict what is actually going to happen tomorrow."
New Normal? Never Normal
Digital applications are now commonplace for Hinssen. If it is not possible for an end customer to purchase or use a product or service digitally, then he will not do so analogue either.
It is now expected that a digital solution is offered in every area of everyday life. The fact that this normality is changing rapidly and that even more complex digital solutions will be expected tomorrow is something that companies need to internalise quickly and now. So it is important to act directly rather than just react. According to Hinssen's analyses, things are always easier for pioneers than latecomers.
Just what a pioneering role like this could look like in concrete terms was explained at eleVation by Kerstin Larsson-Knetsch, head of the 5G pilot programme at Vodafone Germany. Whether the design of Europe's first 5G medical centre or controlling a driverless train in the Erz Mountains of Saxony, concepts that have 5G as the driving technology are already suitable for everyday use
5G campus networks from Vodafone provide company locations with a private mobile network. Such an application is particularly interesting, for example, on a company campus, in the area of airports, or on a hospital campus. But universities and public administration can also benefit from such "private" or semi-private networks.
More performance with Campus Private:
|Learn more about 5G campus networks from Vodafone!|
"Innovate or die"
Mixed reality in the operating theatre and WFH for a train driver: these projects are no longer a sci-fi scenario, but have been successfully realised in recent years with Vodafone's support. Key technologies such as 5G had to be adapted much earlier: "Innovate or die applies to all companies. Not only the big ones, but also to SMEs," explains Alexander Graf, CEO of the e-commerce company Spryker Systems.
Graf calls primarily German SMEs to account in the digital transformation, and sees "significantly more opportunities than risks" for German retailers. According to Graf, AR and VR have tremendous potential for this sector. The faster data transmission provided by 5G enables more complex content. The fading-in of product information and targeted management of visitors’ channels integrate a more detailed, data-driven analysis of purchasing behaviour in day-to-day business. The customer already has the tool required for this: his mobile phone.
Digitalisation doesn't wait
Smartphones are now a matter of course everywhere, and show how closely digital and analogue spaces are interlinked. We notice the effects more and more every day. Our perception and our understanding of technology have changed radically in a short period of time. What was new yesterday is commonplace today. However, according to Alexander Graf, digital know-how only has a short half-life, and it is impossible to make reliable predictions.
So it is entirely up to the companies to adapt to these changes quickly, and to rely promptly on key technologies that pave the way for a variety of opportunities in industry and everyday life. Because one thing is clear: digitalisation is going to continue to progress and change our everyday lives. But this process can be mastered with creativity, entrepreneurship and know-how. Because what applies to 5G also applies to any other key technology: it is only as good as what companies make of it.