5G is coming and bringing with it the promise to transform any industry. And while the focus has been on the benefits to consumers, the effects on the enterprise are far-reaching.
Few examples of emerging technology have the potential to disrupt and downright revolutionize certain markets and processes than 5G.
For enterprise architects, it’s important to understand how a potentially disruptive emerging technology like 5G might be incorporated into an organization, in advance.
A 5G roadmap could be the difference between such disruptions being an obstruction or an opportunity.
As with any emerging technology, organizations need to test and pilot their projects to answer some important questions before going into production:
While the transition from 3G to 4G wasn’t all that eventful – or all that long ago – 5G is expected to buck the trend.
But how exactly?
5G promises dramatically faster download and upload speeds and reduced latency.
For context, average 4G speeds peak at around 45 Mbps (megabits per second); the industry goal is to hit 1 Gb (gigabit per second = 1,000 Mbps).
Telecom company Qualcomm believes real-world applications of 5G could be 10 to 20 times faster than that.
For consumers, this will mean dramatically faster downloads and uploads. Currently, downloading a two-hour movie takes around six minutes on 4G. A 5G connection would achieve the same in just 3.6 seconds.
Organizations will, of course, enjoy the same benefits but will be burdened by the need to manage new levels of data, starting with telecommunications companies (telcos).
Usually, when we think of emerging disruptive technologies, the technology (or process, product, etc.) itself is the primary cause of the disruption.
With 5G, that’s still somewhat true. At least for telcos …
For example, 5G-driven disruption is forcing telecommunications companies to upgrade their infrastructure to cope with new volumes and velocities of data.
On a base level, these higher data volumes and velocities will be attributable to the fact that by making something happen faster, more of it can happen in a shorter amount of time.
But the increase in data speeds will be a catalyst for products and services that are currently not feasible becoming completely viable in the near future.
But companies involved in internet-connected product market, as well as telcos, will need a 5G roadmap to ensure their enterprise architectures can cope with the additional data burden.
In addition to faster connection speeds, 5G will grant telcos more control over networks.
One such example of this control is the potential for network slicing, whereby multiple virtual networks can be generated within one physical 5G network, in turn allowing greater control of the service provided.
For example, self-driving cars would benefit from a network slice that offered exceptionally fast, low-latency connections to better accommodate their real-time data processing and transmitting needs.
Such a set up would go to waste for less-interactive, internet-connected devices. A smart fridge for example, could make do with far slower connection speeds.
This would mean telecommunications companies would start to look more like public-cloud providers and offer scalable services to their user bases.
However, realizing this potential would require more agile-oriented infrastructures than telcos typically have – which will of course require further input from enterprise architects to encourage an efficient implementation.
Another red pin to account for on the 5G roadmap.
So the answer to “Is 5G a disruptive force in and of itself, or is it a catalyst for disruption?” is actually … well, both. With telcos directly impacted by 5G disruption, and IoT product/service providers and digital business on the whole being disrupted by what 5G ultimately enables.
As addressed above, many of the business benefits of 5G are directly tied to increasing the amount of data that can be transferred at one time.
This presents a number of challenges for enterprise architects going forward.
As well as the increased volume of data itself, enterprise architects will need to prepare for faster times to market.
Radically improved data transfer speeds will encourage more agile product rollouts and updates, especially in connected devices that will feedback data insights about their performance.
The reduced latency will likely lead to a new influx of remote working, collaboration- enabling tools as well as products and services currently unaccounted for. Organizations with more agile enterprise architectures will be better placed to implement these smoothly when the time comes.