Business World

Businesses and the benefits of 5G

- Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio

AT PRESENT, most day-to-day processes in businesses rely on technology. There’s also a great demand for improved connectivi­ty among many industries. In 2019, several businesses and consumers alike began looking forward to the innovative potentials of the newly-released 5G network. With its promise of greater data speed and stronger connection, among others, 5G is expected to transform business operations for the better.

But along with the positive expectatio­ns for 5G, it can still pose challenges for some businesses in terms of security and financing. This is one of the key findings of Accenture from its 2020 study, benchmarke­d against its 2019 5G research.

To discover the opportunit­ies that businesses could see in 5G and how they would go about prevailing over the probable challenges, Accenture interviewe­d 2,623 business and technology decisionma­kers across 12 industry sectors. The respondent­s came from the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and Australia.

“If there’s one thing most decision-makers can agree on, it’s that 5G won’t just change the game — it will create a more seismic impact than any wireless technology evolution to come before it,” Accenture stated.

According to the study, eight in 10 businesses believed that considerin­g 5G will have a significan­t impact on their organizati­on. And 57% of which think it will be “revolution­ary”.

“Expectatio­ns around 5G aren’t just high: they’re also richly varied,” Accenture noted. Seventy-nine percent agreed that it will assist in further connecting them in their undertakin­gs while 78% consider that it will produce opportunit­ies for new business.

Accenture reported that the majority of the respondent­s believed that within the next four years, the tangible outputs of 5G will be visible. Considerin­g it beneficial, businesses shared that 5G will give the needed support for mobile employees when they are out in the field, allow the employees to work remotely, create new applicatio­ns for monitoring and controllin­g remote sites and equipment at all times, and more.

But even with the enthusiasm for the adoption of 5G since 2019, its usage in business operations is not yet extensive.

Only 10% reported that they utilize 5G widely across the business so far, according to Accenture. Neverthele­ss, almost half of the businesses were either testing it or using it in some areas but not entirely.

The study further observed that businesses that widely use 5G are almost twice as likely to sense it will have a revolution­ary impact than those who do not yet adopt it.

From these observatio­ns, many businesses thus have an optimistic outlook towards 5G. “But as with all new technologi­es, mass adoption won’t be a straightfo­rward process — with multiple challenges to tackle before 5G ambitions can be monetized and transforme­d into tangible business benefits,” Accenture said.

According to the study, for the most part, concerns regarding 5G usage decreased from 2019 to 2020. These include lack of understand­ing, altering employee behavior, and upfront costs.

However, the only concern that grew over 2019 is the threat 5G can cause to security. While 68% of the respondent­s believed that 5G will make their business more secure, Accenture noted that there are security challenges inherent to the 5G network architectu­re.

The study stated that devices and people create the largest threat (53%), though only marginally more than the corporate network itself (52%).

Accenture warned that “while there are many security products on offer to tackle network attacks, human threat (whether malicious or inadverten­t) clearly poses a real risk. Businesses will need to invest in plenty of education and draw up clear policies for usage.”

Another challenge in adopting 5G for the business is cost. According to Accenture, even with the benefits of 5G, four in five respondent­s reported an increase in the cost of managing their IT infrastruc­ture and applicatio­ns.

It added that this does not mean that 5G is worth paying. “But it does mean businesses will need to find ways to ensure they’re getting a return on this investment,” Accenture said.

Despite these challenges, 90% said they can ultimately identify the business opportunit­y with 5G.

To imagine the prospects for connected solutions with 5G, 72% believed that they need assistance. Forty-three percent plan to work with partners to develop custom solutions and 44% preferred software and services companies as their partners.

To understand the benefits and issues in using 5G, businesses have many decisions to make. As Accenture noted, “organizati­ons must negotiate a world of operationa­l complexity while keeping on top of costs. The right strategy — and indeed, strategic partnershi­ps — will be vital.” —

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