5G is a top-of-mind investment for business leaders across most enterprises. A recent Amdocs report found 88% of IT decision-makers mentioned 5G as the top emerging network technology their organization is exploring. But there’s an issue.
This article originally appeared in Techspective
There’s a lack of understanding around 5G’s advantages blocking mass adoption, creating a ‘Big Gap’ between early adopters and the eventual majority. Communications service providers (CSPs) hope to be the primary supplier of 5G and deliver benefits such as security, reliability, and mission-criticality. Still, there are a few fundamental steps you must take first.
What’s the problem?
The main issue goes deeper than comprehension of 5G technology itself. When purchasing next-gen solutions, businesses immediately think to reach out to an IT vendor, but this isn’t necessarily the best solution. Instead, CSPs are better suited to optimize wireless solutions that provide seamless connectivity across enterprise and macro networks, combining application-level speed, latency, security demands with the likes of cloud and edge computing.
However, our research shows only 12% of IT decision-makers would prefer a CSP as their primary vendor for purchasing next-gen solutions, whereas 29% would buy from an IT vendor. This disconnect is driven by a lack of knowledge of how CSPs can solve the next-generation business solution demands and a lack of value proof points at the right price point for enterprises.
How communications service providers can address this “big gap”
To minimize the disconnect, CSPs need to concisely explain how 5G services will integrate with existing IT and corporate systems, as well as public and edge clouds already in use. Cost is also an essential factor, but it goes deeper than just a single monetary value. Business leaders need to understand the cost of change, considering potential downtime for the network transition and the cost of upgrading all devices to allow connectivity to the 5G network.
Security plays a role, too, and CSPs need to assure that the new 5G network will safely hold any existing and new data. To close the gap in adoption, they need to showcase these benefits, ease of implementation, and prove cost-effective migration from 3G/4G/WiFi/Ethernet to 5G. When developing service-level agreements, CSPs must articulate these unique value propositions.
Different, flexible ways for enterprises to pay for 5G services are also critical. The data cited above found that 36% of IT decision-makers prefer to capitalize the expenses upfront, but other options are desired as well, such as pay for hardware, fixed as-a-service, or consumption-based pricing. By offering more flexible business models, in addition to greater value clarity, CSPs can better engage with potential 5G buyers.
Moving beyond speed and solving real-world problems
Our data shows that 37% of IT decision-makers see speed as the key benefit of 5G, followed by security and coverage availability, both 20%, respectively. But it’s time to move beyond just “speed” and into what’s possible on a bigger scale.
A recent ecosystem-specific example is how a private 5G network can help farms. With our 5G Open Innovation Lab partners earlier this year, we successfully launched the first drone-to-cloud data gathering using private 5G networks and analysis solutions to provide real-time insights about their fields. This solution allowed farmers to be more eco-friendly and produce more crops.
Real-life examples like these will be indispensable for widespread adoption. In the same way as Google and Apple have certain “apps” that they own, CSPs should consider what verticals they want to focus on and excel. I expect this to vary per operator, and this approach will help them better educate enterprise customers on what they can gain compared to too wide of a net.
At a broad level, enterprises are interested in adopting 5G. Still, CSPs need to package 5G solutions that are readily applicable to industry needs, bringing along cloud, edge computing, and an application ecosystem that addresses specific industry segments. This is how to ensure 5G becomes a technology that enterprises can’t live without.