5G: A Global Company’s Secret Weapon in a Post-COVID-19 World

The next evolution of wireless connectivity, 5G delivers the increased speed, network capacity, reliability, and availability needed for data- and IoT-intensive functions, from smart sensors to automated processes. The World Economic Forum writes that “5G has the potential to be for the Fourth Industrial Revolution what the railways were for the first and second ones.”

As COVID-19 and its repercussions continue to impact workplaces, transportation networks, and supply chains worldwide, 5G can help companies adapt quickly and effectively. Examples follow.

Overseeing and optimizing far-flung operations

With travel bans and shutdowns impeding physical access to facilities, global companies have been challenged to achieve visibility, efficiency, and control across multinational operations. 5G networks, with their ability to support automation, analytics, AI, and advanced robotics, offer powerful solutions. Imagine:

  • “Smart factories” where processes optimize and adjust in real time across assembly lines and plants
  • Warehouses equipped with automated vehicles and computer vision-enhanced quality control
  • Streamlined, accelerated machinery repair and maintenance through an AR interface that guides engineers and highlights parts in need of attention
  • Remote oversight of supplies, schedules, and activities through advanced IoT, analytics, and edge computing technologies

Companies are already working to bring such scenarios to life. In France, for example, Schneider Electric is exploring the use of remote assistance for field maintenance technicians, site tours via telepresence and robotics, and automated guided vehicles that gather data and perform tasks on the factory floor.

Transporting goods more efficiently and reliably

A broken-down delivery truck, delayed shipment, or lost shipping container can have serious repercussions in terms of costs, customer satisfaction, and corporate reputation. 5G-empowered technologies can help global companies maintain vital logistics.

Solutions to explore include:

  • Smart fleet and traffic management apps, in which live data from smart traffic lights, CCTV cameras, and roadside sensors travel across 5G networks to analytics platforms, delivering drivers real-time alerts of accidents and traffic anomalies
  • Sophisticated logistics tracking systems that provide real-time visibility across transportation modes, carriers, and jurisdictions
  • 5G-powered predictive intelligence solutions, for faster and effective inspections when goods arrive at busy ports or borders

Keeping workers safe and operations running

Just as the COVID-19 outbreak intensified the importance of keeping workers safe, many conditions surrounding the pandemic—like social distancing and remote work environments—made workplace safety more difficult to achieve, particularly for companies with operations across multiple geographies. 5G-enabled technologies like drones, IoT solutions, and augmented/virtual reality can help.

Businesses can use drones for contactless deliveries or remote monitoring in areas that are inaccessible or dangerous for humans. Companies can increase worksite visibility even more with IoT networks of sensors and video cameras. And they can use VR-enabled solutions to give employees valuable “hands on” experience in scenarios where in-person training is neither safe nor practical.

5G’s high speed and low latency also make it well suited for business continuity applications. “How do we make sure that the people who need to be productive and uninterrupted have the right resiliency? 5G would play a huge role in that,” Mick Slattery, president of Compucon Information Technologies, told Tech Republic. Compucon provides cloud computing, managed IT, and server consolidation services—all solutions where uptime and reliability are mission critical.

Scaling at the pace of business

In many industries, mergers and acquisitions have abounded, with Gilead’s $21 billion acquisition of Immunomedics and Salesforce’s $27.8 billion acquisition of Slack being two big examples. So have opportunities for organic growth. One particularly high-profile example has been Zoom, the video communication provider that became a household name during COVID-19. Revenues for the quarter ending October 31 were up 367 percent over the same period in the previous year.

Yet successfully operationalizing an acquisition and scaling growth can be easier said than done—and that’s where 5G comes in. 5G gives companies the power to expand into new markets and integrate operations faster, with fewer headaches.

For a growing company in a competitive business environment, 5G enables and empowers:

  • Faster communication and data-sharing across more reliable networks
  • Wireless sensors and other Internet of Things systems for data collection and monitoring
  • AI and augmented reality tools that can automate tasks, increase efficiency, and predict outcomes

“5G has the potential to be a very quick way to extend network coverage and also provide added redundancy into those locations without a lot of additional infrastructure,” according to Mick Slattery of Compucon.  This means swifter, more economical expansion and more reliable operations. Moreover, 5G networks can be leveraged by a wide range of industries: financial services, insurance, real estate, retail—wherever a network is needed.

Once new locations are online, 5G’s speed and power facilitates upgrades, new application deployments, and collaboration across a geographically dispersed workforce. In short, 5G is the network that brings the infrastructure of the future together—data centers, cloud applications, edge computing, and beyond—and makes it run, which makes it a competitive advantage for growing international businesses.

Ready to get started? Specialized consultants and advisors can help you evaluate 5G availability in the places where you do business, then explore ways to put this new technology to work. For more information, contact us.