The pace of change we experience today would have seemed unimaginable just a generation or two ago. And it shows no sign of slowing down – in fact, quite the opposite. One of the consequences of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has been an enormous increase in demand for a wide range of connected services. Many things that would once have been regarded as nice-to-have have become must-have items for businesses and consumers alike. 

Communications service providers (CSPs) and telcos found their networks facing unprecedented levels of demand. Despite concerns and even predictions that those networks wouldn’t cope, they demonstrated considerable reserves of resilience and robustness. For the organizations using those networks, a bigger challenge presented itself – how to re-imagine and re-engineer high-quality customer engagement in an online world. It is this that is at the heart of the latest surge in the pace and scope of change, and much of it is being made possible by 5G.

Telcos are turning to 5G in order to cope with increasing demand. Source: Shutterstock

A new beginning

Long before the pandemic, 5G was regarded as a transformative technology – the enabler of new ways of working and new ways of living. But now its possibilities have been thrown into sharp relief and its potential is being understood more clearly. The result is an abundance of opportunities for businesses to realign their offerings around what 5G can do for them and their customers. 

Zero-touch digital customer engagement has often been regarded as a high-risk option, one that would be synonymous with diminished levels of service and value. But old, established views on what customers want have been challenged by the wholesale shift to online and remote-working. Having demonstrated that this is what they want, customers will expect the businesses they deal with will rise to the occasion.

Furthermore, whole new market sectors are emerging that can only exist and succeed thanks to ever-present, stable, secure connections. Here are three use cases that demonstrate the relationship between end-user demand, robust networks, and the revolutionary nature of 5G’s advances.

1. Connected health

Not long ago, the idea of having a video call with your doctor would have seemed highly unusual for most people – to say the very least. Now it has become commonplace and, for some people, it may even be the preferred option. Network reliability and security are vital here – few things are more personal than medical data. 

So, too, is an understanding of the medical profession – what doctors need at their fingertips when undertaking an online consultation, what information must be gathered and how it must be stored, and how to adhere to all the necessary regulations in the medical sector.

5G makes online health services more accessible and effective. Source: Shutterstock

2. Civil engineering

Drones have become a valuable tool for remote condition monitoring, checking bridges, oil and gas rigs, ships, roads, airport runways and so on. They can go where people can’t – often for safety reasons – and deliver in-depth visual inspections. But all that video footage generates vast amounts of data. 

Processing, analysing and storing all that visual data – whether from drone or CCTV footage – would put enormous strain on a corporate network. But it lends itself perfectly to robust, secure, cloud-based operations. It would also need to be readily available for edge and near-edge computation, analysis and decision-making, delivered in a format or on a platform that is in-step with civil engineers’ needs.

3. Assisted living

Around the world, many countries have ageing populations. Plus, a growing number of seniors are living longer, healthier lives. Many of them will need a little help – whether at home or in a specialist facility. Monitoring someone’s well-being remotely can only be done effectively when such services are resilient enough to offer true peace of mind.

The coming together of leading-edge technology and elder-care services is something that requires careful, experienced handling. From devices to dashboards, everything needs to have ease-of-use running through it – for the patients and residents, but also for their families. Added to which, this scenario is likely to call for connections with outside agencies too, such as a doctor’s office, hospital or social care unit.

5G technology will also help advance assisted living capabilities. Source: Shutterstock

Other sectors set to benefit from 5G-enabled transformation include smart logistics, urban digital surveillance, smart factories, immersive in-stadium experiences, experience-rich retail stores and so many more.

What they all have in common is that breaking open these new markets will call for a new understanding of what an opportunity is and how to go about exploiting it. No longer will a stand-alone business view everyone and everything around it as a potential threat. Instead, everyone and everything around it should be seen as a potential partner in an ecosystem configured to delight customers and generate revenue.

Next steps: Purpose-centric ecosystems

There is significant potential in these developments. Moving forward, one of the most important considerations for businesses in all sectors should be how to redefine their role, their relevance and their sense of purpose. Being part of an ecosystem means collaboration and cooperation trump competition. For many, this may call for a process of internal business transformation to ensure all aspects of operations and performance align with the new, ecosystem-centric purpose for the enterprise. 

Key to everything is a growing reliance on always-available, always-secure online services. This plays to the strengths of telcos, who now need to further reposition themselves around resilience, security and reliability and put themselves at the heart of purpose-centric ecosystems. Purpose will become the unifying theme around which organizations will form partnerships, develop products, create propositions and attract customers. In turn, this will lead to the evolution of purpose-driven ecosystems.

On September 9, 2020, the TCS Innovation Forum – A New Beginning: Reimagining Businesses in the 5G Era – will explore these issues, and will try to answer some fundamental questions our customers ask about 5G, such as:

  1. Why and when should one adopt 5G?
  2. What are the demand- and supply-side dynamics in the 5G world?
  3. Which are the right use cases to adopt for maximized returns?
  4. How should you craft a 5G strategy that will provide a fillip to your business?

Senior executives across industries, including CSPs, will join us in the Innovation Forum to discuss and debate these questions and present their approaches to 5G. We hope you will join us, too.

Find out more in the TCS Innovation Forum: Reimagining Businesses in the 5G Era.

Register here.