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Three 5G application scenarios and how they could change your workforce

Author: Shane Schick

There's often a significant lag between the introduction of a new technology and when it's effectively implemented by the workforce. But potential 5G applications in the business world offer a rare opportunity to close that gap quickly.

Even more than the emergence of PCs in the office or apps on smartphones, 5G networks should have a broad impact on hardware, software, workflows—just about everything across almost every market. This includes areas that are key to empowering efficiency, like faster throughput—one of 5G's key performance attributes. 5G networks can also carry large data volumes for multiple users at the same time, and provides lower latency than 4G LTE networks.

This is all well and good, but it's easier to visualize how 5G can empower the workforce when you look at some 5G application scenarios and the transformations they should enable.

AI and machine learning

Online shopping catalyzed a technological revolution in retail. Innovations such as personalized shopping and contactless payment have continued to change the way consumers shop. 5G opens the door for yet another seismic shift.

Smart interactive displays driven by artificial intelligence (AI) could gather data from embedded sensors and use the 5G network's high capacity and low latency to power their algorithms. Retailers could use them to create a unique shopping experience that sets them apart from their competition.

Imagine that a person with no intent to shop walks past a display store window. When they glance in, they don't see a mannequin, but a rendering of themselves wearing a bespoke outfit—possibly sparking a sale.

And while the concept of personalized shopping may have changed retail more than a decade ago, machine learning powered by 5G could give smart devices the capability to guide customers through a store in real time, improving their shopping experience and increasing the likelihood of a sale and a return visit.

The intersection of AI and machine learning with 5G doesn't end with retail. It could also offer a powerhouse combination in areas such as media and entertainment, healthcare and manufacturing.

The Internet of Things

Everyday objects like thermostats, refrigerators and speakers have already been empowered by joining the Internet of Things (IoT). But 5G could make them even more powerful—networks such as Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband will eventually handle 10 to 100 times more connected devices per square kilometer than 4G can.

5G's massive capacity could also push forward autonomous vehicle adoption, and, with CV2X (Cellular vehicle-to-everything), we should see the enablement of real-time connections between vehicles, pedestrians, traffic infrastructure and cloud services. 

Supply chain operations

Logistics, factories and other parts of the supply chain will use AI, machine learning and the IoT for their unique purposes.

AI applications operating with a 5G infrastructure can function both inside and outside four walls. Machine and Computer vision operating with a firm’s ERP platform can turn video into an analytical tool that not only enables automatic inspection on the production line to ensure consistent quality, but can alert and action in real time to remove faulty products while automatically updating order and workflows. While mobile-enabled software enhancements can allow for better situational awareness, data sharing and coordinated driving between vehicles in a fleet.

The lower energy requirements of 5G also mean that supply chain components like IoT devices that rely on batteries should use less power and as a result experience longer uptimes.

Prepping the 5G workforce

Once you understand and appreciate the power of 5G, the next step is to ensure that your teams can capitalize on its benefits.

Start by thinking about how technologies underpinned by 5G, such as cobots, might require upskilling. Some roles will involve managing information presented or actuated in different ways, and using tools such as AI and the IoT to inform data-driven decision-making.

5G's key performance attributes—throughput, service deployment, mobility, connected devices, energy efficiency, data volume, latency and reliability—are expected to make remote work easier and more efficient for businesses making it their new normal. It's time to develop strategies that account for where talent comes from, how teams might be distributed and the way remote work would affect processes, policies and culture.

The 5G applications we see today are just the beginning of how the workforce will change. Leaders should use them to inspire strategies that ensure that every change is for the better.

Learn more about how Verizon can help you get 5G-ready right now.