Innovations with 5G and rapid digital transformations. Here are some examples:
The faster speed of 5Gnetworks and high-resolution screens of 5G-enabled devices might lead to a higher degree of customer willingness to engage in e-commerce activities, more time spent on e-commerce websites, and more purchases online. The features of5G can also lead to a higher degree of effectiveness of e-commerce vendors’ activities such as online advertising. Finally, faster speeds and higher-resolution screens are also associated with a higher degree of enjoyment(psychological or intangible benefits) when consumers engage in e-commerce activities. Consider online video ads, which are a key component of an e-commerce ecosystem.
In 2017, social video ad spending in the US was estimated at over US$4billion dollars or 20% of the total social media ad sales. Most video ad tags contain sophisticated tracking codes, making it possible for advertisers to track users’ interaction with the ads. Due to their larger file sizes, loading video ads is more difficult and time consuming than loading text or photos. This is a major concern because many viewers strongly dislike ads and other content that do not download quickly. In a survey, about 80% of respondents said that if content takes too long to download, they will stop viewing it or switch to a different device. Likewise, another study conducted in 2017 by video analytics firm Mux found that 85% of respondents would stop watching a video if it takes too long to load 5G offers great promise and potential to address these challenges. With 5G, data transmission and processing speeds will rocket to new levels. 5G will thus help create and deliver effective online video advertising that can attract customers’ attention and produce the best results. Likewise, 5G networks ensure that devices do not lose Internet connections when traveling from one location to another.
Autonomous vehicles are capable of operating without human inputs in most conditions. Inthe U.S., autonomous vehicles (AVs) have the potential to reduce crashes by 90%, and save aboutUS$190 billion annually. AVs have already achieved impressive results. During the 2018 the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, AVs drove guests around the city’s stadiums, ski slopes and ice rinks.
In lower generation networks (e.g., 4G LTE networks), high latency is a concern. In order to maintain awareness of the surroundings and safely steer through traffic with vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications, autonomous vehicles need a 1 MS latency. With 5G networks, an autonomous car will be able to hit the brakes and stop it within one inch compared to 4.6 feet taken with 4G.
Using 5G it is possible to perform remote robotic surgery in a more reliable and secure manner (Newman, 2018). From an operating room, a surgeon can watch alive feed and control a robotic arm remotely to perform surgery. The task requires a high data transmission rate and a low latency.
5G’s key features noted above make it possible to achieve the same accuracy and effect as performing a surgery on a patient in front of the surgeon. 5G networks can make it possible to get hospital services at home.
With 5G it is possible to monitor things continuously. One benefit is personalization of healthcare. The ability to continuously collect patient-specific data and analyze them quickly. By communicating the processed information and recommended actions, patients can manage conditions on their own. In this way, 5G networks have the potential to increase the effectiveness of preventative care substantially.
Combining5G networks with other technologies
5G networks’ value creating potential can be maximized if this technology is combined with other technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR). The analysis can be generalized to other economic activities.
Internet of Things and 5G
Estimates suggest that companies would spend about US$5 trillion on the IoT during2018-2022. There were from 6.6 billion IoT devices in 2016, which is expected to increase to 22.5 billion in2021, (Newman, 2017). A study found that 70% of retailers worldwide were ready to adopt the IoT to improve consumer experiences.
TheIoT can produce transformative economic impacts. For instance, IoT makes it easy to track inventory in real time and manage it more effectively. By doing so, human errors can be reduced. IoT can also help minimize waste, control costs, and reduce shortage. For instance, temperature-monitoring sensors can be used to maintain optimal temperatures for perishable products and send alerts when certain conditions are met.Unsurprisingly, e-commerce companies have made heavy investments in IoT. China-based e-retailerJD.com’s 3-System Fridge has sensors on every shelf and an internal camera. It registers the time and date when items are stored inside. The data is fed to a smart screen on the fridge’s front side, which sends an alert when an expiration date is near. It can also order the next grocery list from JD.com based on the fridge’s contents.The amount of communication that needs to be handled will also increase costs exponentially. The current 4G networks are not capable of handling this growth. Due to their higher data transmission and processing speeds, 5G networks will play a key role in processing and analyzing massive amount of data created with a large number of IoT devices.
Artificial intelligence/machine learning and 5G
AI and ML can be applied in diverse settings, such as in the (near)real time personalization and delivery of ads related to customer purchases. AI-enabled devices are already playing important roles in helping consumers in e-commerce activities such as making buying decisions and tracking products. For instance, virtual assistants are transforming the way consumers purchase products online. Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa, for example, has been integrated into Amazon products as well as those from other manufacturers. Customers can use Alexa to find information about local concerts through eBay’s online ticket exchange company StubHub. In addition, they can arrange transportation to the event via Uber and order pre-event dinner from Domino’s. The order status can be tracked in real time. Likewise, consumers can order flower arrangements with1-800-Flowers.com through Alexa or Google assistant-enabled devices (Renfrow,2018). AI-enabled devices have already started handling unstructured information. For instance, social media platforms use AI to enable facial recognition and photo tagging.
5G will dramatically improve consumer experiences with AI-based devices. With 5G,AI-based devices can access additional structured and unstructured information quicker and understand the environment and context better. Overall, AI-powered services will be more reliable in a wide range of contexts and situations in which they operate.
AI and ML would also help5G operators deliver enhanced services to customers. For instance, ML and AI can identify the bandwidth requirements in a given situation. AI can translate a customer’s intent and uses that insight to configure the network. Resources can be optimized based on workload models.
Finally, AI may improve cybersecurity in 5G. For instance, whenever some threats arise, machine learning can identify them using analytics.
Virtual/augmented reality and 5G
In 2017, the retail industry was estimated to spend US$1 billion in VR/AR solutions, which was growing with a CAGR of 240%. By 2020,the retail would be the top industry for VR/AR spending. By 2025, the VR and AR retail markets are expected to reach US$1.6 billion and US$30 billion respectively.
VR and AR are likely to emerge as driving forces in diverse economic activities. For instance, by wearing a VR headset, a shopper can instantly find herself in a company’s virtual shop, where she can “walk” around to explore items exactly as she would in the real shop. For instance, if she wants to know more about a new piece of jewelry in the shop, she can focus her sight on that item and see the relevant information needed to make a purchasing decision. If she wants to buy it, she can make the payment or add it to her cart and look for additional items.A furniture vendor can develop an AR-enabled app that allows a customer to point the mobile camera to the place where she wants to keep the furniture. The app places a 3D model of the furniture as an overlay on the living room’s live image. The shopper now has a clear visualization of how the furniture would fit in her living room.. In addition, by rotating the camera, she can see where the new furniture fits best. This has already been done by some companies such as Lego and IKEA. Likewise, the home furnishings and decor company Wayfair launched its AR app Way Fairview in 2016, which is available in Google Play.In the current online environment, consumers face difficulty in estimating objective product quality. A high level of uncertainty associated with product attributes that consumers are unable to experience online may lead to a lower willingness to buy online (Kim & Ramaiya, 2015). 5G networks in combination with AR/VR would allow consumers to have the same experience as visiting physical stores regarding the design, fit, feel, and texture of the product.
The complexity and richness of the AR and VR worlds require processing a large quantity of data. Current 4G networks suffer from some limitations such as those related to bandwidth, latency, and uniformity, especially when the data needs to be fed remotely. In this regard, 5G networks are likely to unlock the full potential of VR and AR technologies. 5G’s significantly faster speeds and lower latency would help overcome these weaknesses. 5G streams’ transmission delay is about 1MS, which is much shorter than human beings can notice.Contents with higher resolution require bigger data capacity. With lower generation networks, there is often a time lag between a user’s actions and updates in the screen (IANS,2018). Many people experience discomfort due to this time lag. This discomfort can be virtually eliminated with 5G networks. 5G networks’ almost zero delay in transmission is thus likely to enrich customers’ experiences with AR and VR technologies.According to Time Trade research, 85% of consumers prefer shopping in physical stores. Many features of brick and mortar stores cannot be replaced by e-commerce. However, AR and VR can create consumer experiences that are close enough to brick and mortar stores.
By combining AR/VR with AI, retailers can create customer experience that is significantly closer to real-world environments. With AI, for instance, customers can view a realistic human avatar walking in the room. The customer thus has information needed to make the purchasing decision. This may lead to a higher relative preference for shopping online.Retailers can also use AR and VR in concept testing to measure consumers’ responses and feedback before implementing their ideas. Such testing can provide retailers with insights into consumers’ emotional connection with the products, which can result in consumer adoption and market impact.
Blockchain and 5G
One of the most high-profile future uses of blockchain is likely to be smart contracts. Smart contracts are agreements that is automatically executed by a computer program. Put differently, such contracts execute themselves “automatically under the right circumstances” (The Economist, 2015). A smart contract can be executed either “above” the blockchain or “on” the blockchain. In the former, the software program runs outside the blockchain and feeds information to the blockchain. In the second case, the software program is coded into blocks.In many smart contracts, effective communication between the underlying IoT infrastructure to facilitate reliable and secure processing of IoT data is Critical. When blockchain and IoT are integrated into a smart contract framework, the concerned parties need to decide where interactions would take place. Three possibilities can be envisaged: (a) inside the IoT; (b) a design that involves IoT and blockchain; (c) through blockchain. Especially the first approach requires reliable IoT data and low latency in IoT interactions. In the cases of (a) and(b), smart contracts are executed “above” the blockchain. For (c), they are executed “on” the blockchain. In smart contracts that are executed “above” the blockchain, 5G can play a key role in feeding the information (for example, from IoT devices) more efficiently. Many business models are evolving that combine blockchain with the IoT. For instance, a house is rented on AirBNB, could unlock automatically when the payment clears. In the music industry, smart contracts can help artists make some extra money by renting their equipment. The rented equipment will automatically turn off if payments are not received.Swiss Coffee Alliance(SCA) uses Ambrosus’ sensor-to-blockchain technology to fight unethical distribution of profits in the global coffee supply chains. The participants include SCA’s network of farmers, roasters, product developers, manufacturers and retailers. It utilizes blockchain, high-tech sensors, and smart contracts to create immutable records of transactions in the food industry. Products are tracked with sensors to transmit real-time environmental and logistical data.To take another example, the provider of compliance and certification and laboratory testing services, Breau Veritas has developed a blockchain-based system to provide highly reliable information about product’s history. The system relies on continual verification rather than samples provides. The goal is to resolve ethical dilemmas consumers face in their decision to buy sustainable products. Relevant participants share records and validate transactions. By flashing a QR code in-store, Shoppers can see a product’s history in order to make informed purchase decisions.The above examples make it clear that a smart contract’s success hinges on the availability of reliable data and continual verification. 5G networks make it possible to receive and transmit created data in a reliable manner. In this way, organizations can use blockchain to create a real value proposition for the consumer.Cyberattacks have been a main concern for the growth of e-commerce. Such concerns are further heightened by the rapid growth of IoT networks, as IoT sensors carry sensitive information about their users. Securing these systems is thus important. Another key use of blockchain would be addressing security issues in 5G. Telecom companies can provide an eSIM (embedded SIM) or an app to a subscriber that creates a unique virtual identity that is encrypted and stored on a blockchain. Subscribers can use the unique IDs for automatic authentication on e-commerce websites. Blockchain also allows for secure P2P network solutions.