In August 2006, Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt first used the phrase “cloud computing.” Even those of us immersed in enterprise IT for years were taken aback by what this revolutionary approach could mean for business as usual. Needless to say, this transformative way of storing, analyzing, and accessing data and applications changed the face of business. Thanks to cloud computing, anyone can collaborate on projects in real-time, gather at any moment in one virtual room for web conferences, serve customers better, and process huge volumes of data to rapidly access relevant insights. Now, we’re facing another technological sea-change: 5G.
Although 5G’s long-term RoI — or “killer app”— is yet to be determined, the potential implications of the “massive IoT,” connectivity, ultra high-reliability, and low latency are very promising. The difference between this transformation and the cloud one, though, is that enterprises have the benefit of knowing what’s on the horizon. We don’t have to scramble to adapt. So, what can we do now to get ready for widespread 5G integration in the coming decade?
Preparing for 5G rollout
For companies like Schneider, there is one thing I cannot express loudly enough: 5G integration requires a collaborative effort between enterprise IT, those who manage your operations network, product R&D and lines of business (to ensure your connected offers are 5G compatible), your cybersecurity team, mobile providers, and strategic partners for the network backbone. And don’t forget to get your regulatory team on board to help navigate various regional regulatory environments and their implications on the 5G value chain.
Although the 5G landscape varies widely by country, the common thread is that 5G rollout takes a village for sure.
What company doesn’t want to jump at the chance to have reliable and fast connectivity anywhere in your office? Along with speed and dependability, the impact isn’t just about enhanced efficiency. Imagine serving customers better as pockets of 5G availability start to connect into a pervasive network that delivers instantaneous and seamless communication and interaction with your web, apps, digital tools, customer-facing platforms, and more. And this is just a slice of the bigger picture from the outside looking into the enterprise layer. How can 5G change your supply chain, essentially transforming the industry as we know it?
What does 5G integration for the industry look like?
Here is a pragmatic look at 5G’s impact on the shop floor at Schneider’s own Le Vaudreuil factory in France, recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of the world’s top nine advanced “lighthouse” sites that embed the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution into production. Today, we are co-innovating with Orange, a global operator and carrier-grade integrator, to simplify IT operations, improve support to manufacturing, and accelerate factory digitization in this flagship smart factory. One pilot 5G integration project with Orange is testing our EcoStruxure™ Augmented Operator Advisor application. 5G can take our current Augmented Reality applications, as used by our OEM customer Bühler as well, to another level. Operators will have improved experiences seeing and interacting with contextual and real-time information on mobile devices for both production and maintenance applications.
With 5G deployment, both within and outside the factory, there will be better quality and noticeably faster response time, thanks to low latency. We are taking the coverage outdoors as well. In fact, this is one area — bringing high bandwidth connectivity to mobile applications in areas that have spotty or no reception — is where we expect 5G to be truly transformative to the services industry. We can envision the day when our customers can use the Augmented Operator Advisor application in outdoor and/or remote locations such as electrical installations, water plants, or solar installations, where you can improve both day-to-day operations and field service visits.
A new digital landscape
We can see clearly on the horizon 5G’s many promised benefits for accelerating digital transformation through heightened efficiency while unleashing massive opportunities for seizing IoT’s business value. Just as cloud computing forever changed the digital landscape, so, too, will 5G. And as the global 5G drumbeat becomes louder and louder, we hear it. We’re ready.