2020 truly transformed every aspect of our lives, leaving many of us more reliant on technology than ever before. For businesses, the pandemic has acted like an incubator, pushing organisations across all sectors to accelerate digital transformation to improve operations through emerging technologies like 5G.
As we look to the future, the adoption of 5G networks across the globe is set to revolutionise the way we do business. It promises to significantly upgrade our technology toolkit, improving operations and providing solutions that will create a more inclusive, connected and sustainable world, says Bhushan Patil, SVP EMEA, Tech Mahindra.
In 2016, the European Commission adopted an action plan for the rollout of 5G networks across Europe. Since then, the UK has made significant progress, with operators such as EE, Vodafone and O2 already rolling out 5G networks across UK cities in 2020. While many still think of 5G as a technological advancement limited to mobile networks, its ability to support new services and cutting-edge applications has the potential to transform every part of society.
The adoption of 5G and the benefits of its ultrafast connectivity will transform businesses across all sectors while creating a more inclusive, connected and collaborative world.
Having access to 5G networks will significantly upgrade businesses and consumer technology through ultrafast connectivity, high-speed live-stream video and instantaneous data sharing.
Take healthcare as an example. Telemedicine gained significant momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic and saw its global adoption rates increase to 43% compared to the 32% recorded in 2019. For doctors, physicians and health institutions, the ability to treat patients virtually was a game-changer as it made healthcare more accessible. With 5G, mobile network providers can develop solutions that will enable healthcare systems to further leverage telemedicine, enabling doctors to increase their reach. This has a host of benefits, including enabling the provision of specialist care to rural communities and the ability to access treatment from the comfort of patients’ homes.
The untapped benefits of 5G will also help to transform precision agriculture. By enabling ultra-high-speed connectivity across farm equipment and cattle, it will lead to faster two-way communication and real-time access to precise information. As a result, businesses will see an overall improvement in operational processes through smart crop management, efficient use of fertilisers and chemicals as well as an early warning of potential adverse weather.
Further, 5G-powered precision farming will allow farmers to directly combat the impact of climate change. In fact, the United Nations Development Program predicts that the collective ability of farmers to harvest more food more efficiently may be how the world feeds the global population.
The potential of 5G will also impact the development of smart cities. Its ability to connect millions of devices and sensors will accelerate advances in security, mobility and mobile payments to supercharge the digital economy and generally improve quality of life. Ultimately, 5G’s network capacity will help governments and their providers to develop digital solutions to significantly monitor and improve traffic, refuse collection, emergency responses, harmful emissions and much more.
Achieving a sustainable future
The power of 5G can also help combat climate change, an issue that has been near the top of the consumer agenda for the past few years. In a 2020 report entitled “Consumer Products and Retail: How sustainability is fundamentally changing consumer preferences”, Capgemini revealed that 67% of consumers globally said they will be more cautious about the scarcity of natural resources. For businesses that can adopt 5G to connect digital transformations with sustainability initiatives, they will not only see an increase in consumer satisfaction but also a boost in productivity and business resilience.
A prime example of this can be seen in the manufacturing industry. Research by O2 in a report titled A Greener Connected Future shows that by 2030, 5G could increase the manufacturing industry’s revenue to $740bn USD globally. Not only this, but it also has the potential to reduce resource usage and improve overall efficiency while saving 40 megatonnes of carbon emissions by 2035.
According to Latana’s “Sustainability Perception Index 2020”, sustainability has been high on the consumer agenda even in the years leading up to the pandemic, with 61% saying it will become an even more important factor to them after COVID-19. Research has proven that sustainability can no longer be just a ‘nice to have’ for businesses; the organisations that will see growth in the years to come will be the ones that embed sustainability into every core of their operations.
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A collaborative and connected society
Across all sectors, 5G has created the potential for a more inclusive society through improved communication between governments, businesses and consumers.
As 5G continues to be deployed across Europe, governments and businesses alike must recognise that we are now only at the beginning of discovering the potential of 5G. It has the power to create a more sustainable future, bridge the gap between businesses to encourage collaboration for cutting-edge solutions and connect those in hard-to-reach areas with essential services. Looking ahead, advances in technology accelerated by 5G will transform every sector of society, positively impacting our lives regardless of device or location.