This month, I want to zoom in on two key technologies that we’ve looked at in various contexts over the past few years: the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G. More specifically, I’ll consider how greatly enhanced 5G connectivity promises to unlock the vast potential of IoT, delivering tangible business benefits across a wide variety of industries.
IoT: Rapid Growth plus a Wealth of Opportunities
The Internet of Things has been around for several years now. Over this period, the global network of interconnected devices has grown to encompass a vast array of hardware, ranging from sensors and cameras right through to industrial robots.
But hardware is just part of the story. IoT also relies on sophisticated software. And when combined with powerful analytics solutions, for example, the Internet of Things offers a host of new opportunities for innovating products and services and boosting operating efficiency.
In fact, such is the potential of IoT that market-data provider Statista expects the network to comprise more than 50 billion connected devices by 2030. And this figure is set to continue rising.
Old Cellular Standards Put the Brakes on IoT
To date, however, it’s not always been easy to harness the power of IoT. This is due largely to the limitations of cellular technology. One major issue is that 3G and 4G networks are prone to disruption by anything from Wi-Fi signals to buildings. As a result, they can’t always provide the quality of connectivity that’s key for many IoT applications.
What’s more, as the number of networked devices increases, 3G and 4G rapidly reach their limits in terms of the hardware they can accommodate. This limitation, in turn, creates issues with latency, making it difficult to implement the real-time information exchange required for critical applications, where every millisecond counts.
5G: Unlocking the Full Potential of IoT
But help is at hand in the form of 5G cellular broadband. This new standard delivers significantly more reliable connectivity – a must for applications where reliability and security are key. Plus, it’s designed to handle as many as 500 billion devices, enabling businesses to capture far greater volumes of hitherto untapped actionable data.
In addition, 5G delivers considerably faster IoT connectivity across longer distances. And 5G reduces latency to just 1 millisecond – a giant leap forward compared to LTE, where latency can range from 50 to as much as 100 milliseconds. As a result, 5G opens the door to applications such as autonomous vehicles, where real-time data transfer is crucial.
Small wonder, then, that observers like IBM see 5G as a powerful enabler of IoT expansion. The greatly enhanced network availability and capability delivered by the new standard have the potential to drive broad shifts in the business landscape – from digitization of manufacturing through to applications like decentralized energy delivery and remote patient monitoring.
5G IoT in Action
If this all sounds too good to be true, consider the following real-world implementations of the tech. In Seoul, South Korea, for example, a 5G IoT-based smart traffic system captures data from roadside infrastructure and vehicles. This data is then analyzed and shared in real time with road users, warning them about hazards and gridlocks and making for greater road safety and traffic efficiency.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Cologne Airport is leveraging 5G IoT with the ultimate aim not only of tracking people and equipment, but also of transporting luggage on self-driving vehicles, and securing the site using autonomous robots.
As discussed in an earlier blog, IoT already enables continuous tracking and monitoring of large numbers of shipments and containers – enabling more precise control and greater predictability in supply-chain logistics. Adding 5G to the mix takes these benefits to the next level.
What’s in It for Your Business?
So, just how can this latest iteration of IoT benefit your company? No matter what industry you’re in, 5G IoT enables innovative new services and business models built on sensor-enabled intelligent products. What’s more, the tech allows you to develop new value-chain offerings.
Video-monitoring services are one example of this. These services can help ensure product quality by capturing images of products as they roll down the line. The images are then analyzed by AI to detect and resolve quality issues.
With ever more customers demanding personalized offerings, 5G IoT enables you to leverage user data to create personalized offerings more seamlessly across multiple channels. And finally, the tech offers attractive opportunities to create heightened customer experiences – through virtual reality and augmented reality, for example.
The bottom line? Initial 5G IoT implementations in factory settings are already increasing performance by 2%. Based on my experience, I expect this figure to rise to 10% going forward, enabling significant cost savings. And in healthcare, to name just one sector, others are also predicting annual savings of between 10 and 20% through connected health solutions.
Much More than Just a Communication Technology
As our real-world examples show, 5G is not only poised to transform the way we communicate; in conjunction with IoT, it also has the potential to transform businesses and even society as a whole. If you want to reap some of the many rewards of this tech, now’s the time to start looking into just how you can put it to use for your company.
Interested in finding out more about 5G IoT, its benefits, and how it could transform your business model? Feel free to reach out to me. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.