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Ericsson predicts the effects of 5G on the IoT
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Ericsson predicts the effects of 5G on the IoT

Posted by Zenobia HegdeSeptember 13, 2016

I remember being told, by a football coach, that there was one player nobody expected to make it as a professional, writes Nick Booth. But not only did that gangly, one-footed hoofer prove them wrong, he went on to become a successful club manager.

And now he’s the England football supremo. OK, that’s not saying much these days but nobody can dispute that Sam Allardyce has gone global.

Technologies are the same. The new generations always seem to defy expectations. You never know which will fail, which will do the job and which will get the crowd on their feet.

The engineer’s Short Message Service was pretty limited and only intended as a test system, but text messaging was a global commercial success. All the experts predicted that simple systems like Ethernet networking and mainframe computing were doomed. And yet Ethernet triumphed over the fancy footwork of ATM and today the majority of OTT content on mobiles is handled by IBM mainframes. So much for the analysts.

With punditry in mind, a new report from Ericsson, Opportunities in 5G: The view from eight industries, outlines the anticipated impact of 5G on a range of industries. In order to speculate on how industries will apply 5G the report authors quizzed 650 chief technology, marketing and information officers across the globe. The chiefs were asked what use cases they can envisage and what business logic will persuade them to move to 5G.

The result? Ericsson’s chief strategy officer Rima Qureshi now predicted that the IoT will be the catalyst of a transformation to automation in a range of industries. Of the eight industries examined, the most obvious beneficiaries from 5G-driven IoT would be the automotive sector, utilities, public safety, and high-tech manufacturing.

Still, we shouldn’t overlook the other influential sectors examined in this study. There is no reason to discount the idea that healthcare, financial services and the creative sectors (such as media and gaming) will not become outstanding players in the IoT tournament. I’ve long suspected that many news outlets, pundits and even satirical comedy programmes could be automated, so predictable is their output. The inclusion of a study of Internet/digital natives in the Ericsson report is puzzling but, given the unpredictability of technology market outcomes, who can argue with the logic?

The Ericsson report’s conclusion is unsurprising. “The disruption of M2M is a key driving force behind industries,” it says. Its conclusion, if correct, would be great for sellers of 5G equipment, such as Ericsson. “A large majority [of the study] indicated they intend to make significant changes to their businesses in order to take advantage of 5G when it arrives,” concluded Qureshi.

Many of our industries will become unrecognisable to the people who grew up with the old models, Qureshi said. This means that traditionalists may become sidelined. Today’s cocky millennials, currently lording it over older generations with their inherent understanding of the ‘digital age’, could risk becoming marginalised themselves. This is a potential outcome that is examined by the study, but – disappointingly – Ericsson sees today’s millennial thriving. However, this is an area that could merit further investigation.

I wonder if people who grew up with the IoT – which surely is the generation after the millennials – might have an even more progressive outlook. For the moment, however, Ericsson sees them as a powerful group that must be catered for by the rise of 5G, if only to create more applications to please them. So online stores, social networks, collaboration tools, travel and ride-sharing services must all exploit 5G to its fullest feature sets in order to ‘stay relevant’ to the millennials and win their loyalty to brands.

I wonder if the next generation of young adolescents and adults will grow up in perfect harmony with machines and will see them as an extension of themselves. Once they grab power at work, they’ll start to condemn anyone from Millennials upwards of being machinophobic or, worse, old school. Nobody really knows what will happen.

Here’s a question though. Surely, the IoT is a team effort, in which there should be no stars. So why does everything have to be geared around the millennials? Big Sam wouldn’t like that.

The author of this blog is freelance IT and communications writer, Nick Booth.

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Zenobia Hegde

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