2020: The 5G Revolution Begins
“In 2020, edge computing will begin revamping [customer experience], moving user experiences into device endpoints and revising traditional omnichannel constructs and frameworks,” he states.
“With edge computing, brands will be able to engage with customers at an unprecedented speed and reduced latency, resulting in a hyper-personalized, omnichannel experience, even as customers access services from millions of different devices,” he adds.
As an added concern, with 5G, device and network security, at least in the short term, will require a lot of attention as well.
“5G is increasingly based on software. Vulnerabilities around security and privacy, which exist for any software-based application, is something that every company must take into consideration and actively monitor,” Carney says.
Kagan agrees. “Security is always, and will continue to always be, a big concern,” he says. “This is a constantly escalating battle.”
Because of that, Carney recommends that companies “adhere to strict standards around security and introduce advanced network and traffic monitoring systems to avoid any kind of data breach.”
But there are other steps that companies must also take to achieve the full benefit of 5G’s advanced capabilities.
“As 5G rolls out, companies need to think about leveraging any device as a way to spread the message of their brands. Customers are now going beyond traditional websites and mobile devices to learn about products and services, such as through bots, voice assistants, and connected devices,” Carney explains. “As more and more devices become connected devices, companies need to consider how these channels increase engagement opportunities with their customers to strengthen relationships.”
Carney also notes that to truly capitalize on the benefits that 5G could bring, companies need to dismantle the siloes in their data and organizational structures. In a 5G world, an interaction with an in-store associate cannot be completely disconnected from a customer’s purchase online or a phone call with a service representative, he maintains.
And though companies can harness technologies that exist today to unify data, take advantage of AI-powered insights, and create personalized consumer experiences, bigger changes, including training and incentives, should complement the new tools, he says.
And, it is worth noting, not all customers will be able to access whatever 5G-enabled services companies offer. To use 5G network services, people must purchase a 5G phone; 4G smartphones and tablets will not be able to connect to or access 5G services, Kagan points out.
That was one of the reasons that 5G was so slow to take off, according to data from ABI Research. 5G, ABI concluded, had stalled for so long because of the relatively high price of 5G-capable smartphones. But now, “the infrastructure value chain is maturing, handset vendors are manufacturing mid-tiered 5G handsets, and consumers are now discovering higher speeds, better user experiences, and new services, including cloud gaming and AR/VR applications,” says Dimitris Mavrakis, research director at ABI.
Andrew Brown, executive director of enterprise research at Strategy Analytics, takes a more tempered approach to 5G. “The majority of 5G vertical use cases are still in conceptual and developmental stages. While 5G has the potential to transform various industry processes, the true value to end users remains to be established,” he says.
Kagan notes that the changeover to a full 5G network will take time. “As we start to roll out 5G, we will still be mostly 4G for the next few years,” he says, noting that most wireless network advances take between five and 10 years to fully catch on.
Lux Research’s Sullivan agrees, noting that “it will take the telecom industry a few more years to deploy adequate infrastructure to provide quality of service for high-level applications.”
Until then, Kagan expects the hype to continue on a massive scale. “5G will be written about and talked about plenty in coming years. This is the early time, when every company is rushing to be first,” he points out. “Reality will move in over the next year or two as the network catches up on a nationwide scale to the promises we are hearing today.”
But whether businesses will see the impact of 5G in one year, five years, or 10 years, make no mistake—it is here. Businesses must prepare for the technology today to achieve the performance improvements it will offer tomorrow.
“When it comes to customer experience, no one knows precisely what fruit this new technology will bear. But companies that understand and prepare for the changes ahead will be in the best position to take advantage of the possibilities,” Carney concludes.
Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.