In brief

In brief

  • 2019 was the year 5G truly caught the public’s attention and, over the next decade, we will continue to see society transformed by 5G’s capabilities.
  • But what are global businesses looking to see from 5G in the coming years – and how will they go about overcoming the challenges they encounter?
  • Accenture’s latest research set out to discover just that. From expectations and concerns, to plans for implementation, here’s what we unearthed.

What do businesses expect from next generation connectivity?

2019 was the year 5G truly caught hold of the public’s attention with device rollouts and city tests. And over the next decade and beyond, we will continue to see consumers, business, the economy and society transformed by 5G’s capabilities.

So, what are global businesses actually looking to see from 5G in the coming years – and how will they go about overcoming the challenges they encounter? That’s what Accenture set out to discover in our latest research, building on our 2019 5G study. From expectations and concerns, to plans for implementation, here’s what we unearthed.

Great expectations: Attitudes to 5G

If there’s one thing most decision makers can agree on, it’s that 5G won’t just change the game – it will create a more seismic impact than any wireless technology evolution to come before it. Eight in ten (79 percent) businesses believe that 5G will have a significant impact on their organization, of which 57 percent believe it will be ‘revolutionary’ – whereas less than a quarter (24 percent) felt the same about 4G.

And expectations around 5G aren’t just high: they’re also richly varied, with the majority of respondents believing these benefits will be seen within the next four years:

Percent of businesses who expect the following to happen within the next four years

The early adopter impact

Despite the excitement – and increased belief in how soon all of this will happen – 5G adoption is still in its infancy. While over half (54 percent) of businesses are either testing or have part-deployed some level of 5G capability, a further 34 percent are yet to use it in any way. However, it’s likely these figures will shift rapidly over the coming years.

But as these respondents reveal:

The more 'early experience' a business has with 5G, the more inclined they are to feel enthusiastic about its potential.

Challenges and concerns

There are also a number of perceived barriers to adopting 5G applications and technology, including a lack of understanding, internal skill gaps and upfront costs – although these concerns have diminished from 2019 to 2020, with the only concern to have grown over the last year is the threat 5G poses to security.

Overall, businesses believe 5G will make their business more secure (68 percent). But there are security challenges inherent to 5G network architecture, including user privacy, number of connected devices, multiple networks, service access and supply chain integrity.

Making 5G pay

Innovation requires investment, which means businesses will need to find ways to ensure they’re getting a return on this investment. When it’s time to build a use case, the ability to demonstrate that a business is setting itself apart through its 5G investment will be crucial.

How businesses will develop apps reliant on 5G

None of these challenges are insurmountable, particularly with the support of the right partners and expert advisers. The trick here is turning opportunity into tangible outputs and identifying what needs to happen in order to achieve this goal.

Looking outwards to move forward

So – how can they go about this? For most businesses, this means seeking external help: 72 percent believe they need help to imagine the future possibilities for connected solutions with 5G.

And when developing custom solutions to unlock 5G’s potential, the majority will look outside their own business to make this happen. Four in ten (42 percent) expect to access solutions in the market that are 5G-ready, while 43 percent plan to work with partners to develop custom solutions.

Most important challenges in relation to 5G

Gearing up for the 5G future

Organizations that want to lead the 5G race have many decisions to make. From feasibility issues to priority use cases, new business models and device strategies, organizations must negotiate a world of operational complexity while keeping on top of costs. The right strategy – and indeed, strategic partnerships – will be vital. With this in place, businesses will be well primed to define their 5G vision… and then accelerate its journey to reality.

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