As telcos around the world began their rollout, 2020 was to be the year of 5G. Few people could have predicted that a pandemic would beset the world and accelerate the demand for faster, more reliable internet in the way that it has.
5G New Radio (NR) boasts many advantages rarely talked about outside tech circles. Whereas past network upgrades—3G, 4G, LTE—targeted device owners, today, small businesses are poised to benefit most from technological advancements made possible by the 5G network.
● COVID-19 has increased internet use 70%; streaming more than 12%
● 5G provides faster, more reliable internet to remote workers and remote learners
● 5G enables small businesses growth but also global competition
Driven by the explosive growth of AI and internet-of-things (IoT), demand for faster internet is increasing exponentially. The IDC predicts there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices in 2025. Ranging from watches to refrigerators and cars to door locks, these technologies are monitoring, servicing, managing, updating, and decommissioning through machine-to-machine interactions via the web.
Liam Bal, CEO of Spintel sheds light, “IoT has been discussed a lot over the last few years and we expect the take up will rapidly increase as 5G devices start entering the market. We believe there’s an opportunity for telcos to actively help business owners connect the dots between 5G and internet-enabled devices, kickstarting an eagerness to explore and benefit from new technologies.”
In a study released by Qualcomm, the company estimates the world will realise the full economic benefit of the 5G network by 2035, affecting businesses across retail, education, transportation, entertainment, and more. These industries could account for $13.2 trillion in 5G-enabled goods and services.
Though the 5G rollout is just beginning, it has already and will continue to hasten IoT innovation and disclose new and profitable opportunities for small businesses.
5G and the use of AI
Innovators created artificial intelligence (AI) to support humans and in its infancy, AI was quite expensive, putting it out of reach for most small businesses. Since then, AI has become more affordable, and 13.6% of SMBs are leveraging it. Of those already using AI, more than half the SMBs surveyed are using AI for business operations, 45% for customer engagement, and 20.2% for talent management and hiring. As more SMBs adopt 5G, more will also be able to benefit from AI.
AI is suitable for more applications than those currently using the technology, but processing speeds of existing networks have limited the adoption. 5G wireless technology has the potential to remove or reduce processing limitations, opening the door to interminable opportunities.
The use cases of AI in business operations is as vast as the industries already using it. Companies can use AI to predict machinery degradation over time or when maintenance will be needed, or to add sensors or automation to older equipment. They can also use AI to make predictions about inventory levels or manage process controls.
Using AI to enhance business operations is known as enterprise cognitive computing (ECC). In ECC, embedded algorithms automate repetitive, formulaic tasks to increase the speed of information analysis and improve the accuracy of outputs.
ECC applications also reduce search time, processing more data to enable the business to make informed decisions. This can result in enhanced productivity, freeing employees to perform higher-level work focused on the type of work requiring human creativity and adaptability and creativity.
AI can improve the customer journey by making it more personal and natural. The customer experience, or CX, is a significant contributor to growth. Though CX has always been important, the application of data insights has dramatically enhanced it. This data of customer behaviour is a disordered array and businesses can easily collect more than they can use in a meaningful manner.
Successful AI used in CX requires three fundamental components: data unification, access to real-time insights, and business context.
Data unification is the process of creating a single customer view to examine behavioural analytics. Current AI-driven data unification tools can perform these tasks inexpensively, quickly, and efficiently.
If AI is to be useful in improving the customer’s experience, insight must be delivered instantaneously tracking each touchpoint. Unfortunately, most businesses have numerous touchpoint data, including on-site, internally developed, and legacy sources such as product interfaces, payment processors, POS, customer success, tech support, and more.
Gaining real-time insights from these disparate sources is a challenge, but AI-driven CX analytics applications and SaaS are now capable of delivering this type of cross-platform, in-depth analytics with a lower cost to entry.
AI primarily automates low-level tasks and provides decision-makers with detailed, accurate information. Businesses can immediately reduce operational costs when armed with such data. Recruitment software of today goes far beyond merely automating HR administrative workloads by enabling potential employers to evaluate how a candidate performs in practice.
AI has a high level of accuracy when algorithmically assessing skills and experience. Using AI to collect additional data on candidates can facilitate more thorough evaluations, and HR managers can identify which of the candidate’s abilities are most needed by the organisation. AI-based applications conduct these processes and analyse immense amounts of data in seconds, delivering understandable results to decision-makers. Approaching hiring in this way makes the business more productive and motivated candidates to improve skills.
SMBs are using AI and machine learning for business operations, customer engagement and talent management and hiring. With these AI tools, the companies are benefiting from reductions in manual work, increased productivity, and fast, actionable insight, which allows them to compete with and win against larger businesses.
AI and automation will indeed continue to eliminate some employee positions, but these technologies will also create jobs and make workers happier by automating rote tasks and leaving them to focus on creative opportunities in which they can excel.