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November 1, 2018 | Matt Pacheco

How 5G Will Impact Businesses & Their Customers

In the final part (part 3) of our interview with Dominic Romeo, Senior Product Manager at TierPoint, we raise the discussion up from the technical aspects of 5G to look at how it will impact businesses and their ability to serve their customers better.

Interested in reading more of our 5G Q&A?

How 5G will push businesses to adapt

Interviewer: So it sounds like 5G is going to have quite an impact, even though it’ll be different than the impact the evolution from 3G to 4G had. What level of effort do you think businesses will need to make to take advantage of 5G?

Dominic: That’s a good question because there are really two kinds of businesses: those who deploy 5G in their operations and those who benefit from 5G in the ecosystem. I’d like to focus on the latter group because they don’t have to do much of anything, yet the benefits will be tremendous.

Any business that communicates with end users through technology will immediately see a benefit when 5G is fully deployed. You’ll have the latency decreases; the speed increases. Web browsers will respond faster. Emails will download quicker. That’s just native in the 5G world.

Interviewer: Native, perhaps, but not to be underestimated. I believe Google did some research earlier this year that said the average mobile web page was taking more than 20 seconds to load, but people tend to abandon pages if they don’t load within three seconds.

Dominic: That’s right, and the business won’t have to do much of anything to take advantage of the increase in speed. Even a poorly designed website should be faster than it is today.

But to stay competitive, businesses will be compelled to evolve their go-to-customer strategies. Right now, we’re evolving from computer-driven interactions with our customers to mobile interactions. That is, we develop our websites and user interfaces as though the default interface is a PC browser screen, and then we ensure that the interface also works well across mobile devices. Or at least we should, but as we all know, some companies are better at it than others.

This approach is going to have to evolve to a mobile-first strategy. There are many, many end-users in the world, billions really, that will never use a computer to interact with your website. They will only use a mobile device. It’s been a couple of years since I saw the research, but as I recall, it said something like a quarter of millennials only use mobile devices. I would not doubt that percentage has continued to rise.

Interviewer: No doubt. They call the generation that came after the millennials the iGeneration for good reason. My daughter is in this group, and she rarely uses her laptop for anything. It’s all tablets and smartphones. It won’t be long before these kids are in the workforce and become a core market for goods and services.

Dominic: Right, so businesses will need to make sure they’re delivering an experience that is just as good, just as fast on the six-inch mobile device in the customer’s hand as it would be if they drove home and ordered on Amazon from their laptop. Instead of going from computer-first to mobile-first, our thinking is going to have to evolve to mobile-only. 5G will enable that evolution.

We’re getting there already. Even businesses that are late to the mobile-first party look at the traffic generated on their website and see that seventy to eighty percent of it is coming from mobile devices. As they watch that climb to ninety or ninety-five percent, it’s going to drive the remaining laggards to mobile-only.

Interviewer: There’s an internal side to this as well isn’t there? We’re talking about the end-user as the customer, but millions of businesses have salespeople and service personnel interacting with customers in the field, using only their mobile devices to connect back to the office systems.

Dominic: I look at these people as consumers as well. If you’re a road warrior, you need VPN to get back into the office. A lot of us who are working on a laptop from the road have to go find a WiFi hotspot with a good enough connection to allow us to get our work done reasonably quickly. That’s not always easy, and it can introduce security risks, although that’s probably a topic for another time. Once 5G is out there and running in the wild, we’ll finally be able to realize the concept of a truly mobile office. 

Considering 5G in IT planning

Interviewer: When the head of IT looks to the future, what kinds of things should they be thinking about? For example, are there going to be infrastructure changes they’ll need to make once 5G devices become the norm?

Dominic: The big issue is going to be connectivity. More and faster connectivity. Right now, if you think about it, we’re a little bit “edge constrained.” You can see it in the conversations on throttling. For the most part, this was what the net neutrality discussion was all about. The increasing number of unlimited data plans offered by mobile carriers also plays a role in increasing the traffic on the net. The fact of the matter is, with today’s networks, you can’t have a hundred thousand customers streaming Netflix, or YouTube or high-bandwidth applications because there isn’t enough bandwidth there. There aren’t enough channels. There isn’t enough throughput.

But when that barrier is broken down, and 5G is connecting our end-users at increased throughput, increased densities, then all of a sudden the links from those cell towers back to the data centers or from those carriers networks back to cloud providers, those are going to get flooded with even more traffic than they have now.

I think we’re all very aware that network traffic is growing at an incredible pace thanks to our love of technology. This seems to me to be just the tip of the iceberg. If data centers don’t have the connectivity they need to service these denser, higher throughput connections, they’re going to get quickly overwhelmed.

TierPoint can help you prepare for 5G

Managing your data and applications in the cloud can be a daunting task. Digital landscape changes, like evolving customer behavior due to 5G and security threats, can leave businesses asking themselves “What’s next?” A cloud partner can help you answer that question. At TierPoint, we have experts who know cloud and network services, understand your business needs, and guide you to the right IT infrastructure for success. Contact us today to learn how we can help you in your journey to IT transformation.

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