According to Accenture’s 2019 Technology Jobs Outlook, business leaders say that metro Detroit can be the next tech hub in the U.S., so it’s no surprise that emerging technologies like quantum computing and 5G already are making a splash in the region. As more markets begin rolling out 5G technology, it’s vital for us, as business leaders, to understand it before taking it head on.
What exactly is 5G, and why is it such a big deal? Essentially, it’s the next generation of wireless technology after 4G. Because 5G networks rely on much smaller and more closely deployed antennae that can be fixed to existing physical structures (e.g., buildings, light poles, etc.) instead of traditional cell towers, signals will be carried faster and more reliably. It doesn’t just mean faster streaming for your bingeworthy shows, it means better business opportunities. Nearly four in five local Detroit business leaders (79 percent) agree that 5G will revolutionize their industries through new products and services, according to Accenture’s 2019 Technology Vision report.
Without a doubt, 5G will be a complete game changer impacting everything from how consumers use their connected devices to how businesses operate both internally and externally. On the upside, 5G has its benefits, which can be summed up into three focus areas:
- Speed – With a much faster network, 5G will work up to 100 times faster than existing 4G networks.
- Latency – Users will see much less delay or lag time when using their devices. To put it into perspective, 4G networks latency is typically around 40-50 milliseconds. With 5G, it should be one millisecond or less, going undetectable to the user.
- Reliability and Capacity – With a much greater capacity, 5G will be able to cope better with many high-demand applications at once, so you can stream, text, tweet, and more without delay.
A great example of the benefit of 5G is the impact it will have on smart vehicles, connected roads, and other infrastructure. It is estimated that smart city applications made possible by 5G networks could create three million new jobs and contribute $500 billion to U.S. GDP over the next seven years.
Many business executives acknowledge that 5G technology has important competitive implications by providing a major wave of connectivity that opens new dimensions for innovation and commercial and economic development. However, there are perceived barriers to adoption among executives, including the upfront investment, security, employee buy-in, and the specific business use cases.
There’s truly no shortage of predictions about the potential for 5G technology. As found in Accenture’s latest book, “Pivot to the Future,” there seems to be a similar mismatch between the potential of new technologies and their actual, realized benefits, which are growing, including with artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing. While the question of when 5G will be available to harness for its full potential is still unknown, 44 percent of metro Detroit business leaders believe it’s just around the corner within the next three years, while 15 percent are quite optimistic in seeing change this year.
While there is still so much unknown when it comes to disruptive technologies like 5G, the one thing we know for sure is that as business leaders, we cannot afford to ignore it.
Dan Garrison is the office managing director for Accenture in Detroit. In this capacity, he has recently moved the Accenture offices to downtown Detroit and is driving a strategy based on deeper partner ecosystem involvement and expansion of relationships with key organizations. Garrison also runs client delivery for Accenture Digital in North America, a portfolio of more than 500 active client contracts. Garrison has been with Accenture for over 21 years and has delivered technology projects for clients across every Accenture operating unit.