It has been a little over eight years since 4G was introduced to the world, giving us improved mobile commerce, gaming, video streaming and other innovations that were exciting for the time. That technology got us where we are today, but it can’t get us where we need to go. Queue the next evolution in wireless with the launch of next-generation 5G networks.
5G is hitting the market at just the right time as consumer expectations take a turn from company-focused to customer-focused. Of course, users are still going to keep doing the same things they did with 4G, like texting, calling, downloading and shopping, they just want to be able to do them faster. With 5G, they can. If speeding up these capabilities isn’t enough to improve their satisfaction, then the network slicing and enhanced broadband 5G will offer even more opportunities as applications such as virtual and augmented reality, AI and machine learning gain in popularity. 5G will provide immediate gratification, access to innovations, customization and convenience — all indicators of what it takes to gain customer loyalty. And, that’s where commerce comes into the picture.
Customers don’t give a company their business because they have to. They give a company their business because they want to. However, when it comes to the digital economy, need and want are often one and the same, and that leads to some exciting monetization opportunities.
5G will open the door to these opportunities. However, will all that new network capacity be capable of leveraging the possibilities? Network slicing. Micro-targeting. IoT. End-to-end virtualization. They’re all great in the abstract, but when it comes to making money with the new 5G service, the key to success is closing the gap between what the network is capable of and how the operator monetizes those capabilities.
For example, mobile transactions, from consumer acquisition to pricing to delivery, will be instantly tailored to the customer. Gone are impersonal catalogs and one-size-fits-all experiences. 5G offers the potential to impact every aspect of the user’s buying journey. The result? Personalization of experience at scale. For Telcos, it provides a unique advantage to position themselves as digital leaders by dictating the customer experience, end to end.
Commerce, any type of commerce — digital or not — is about giving the customer what they need and want. When businesses fail to adapt to the wishes of the customer, they fail to succeed. Digital customers want faster speeds, increased capacities and more flexibility. As 5G becomes a reality and digital service providers strive to meet these expectations, Telcos must remember the lessons from other organizations that were once at the forefront of their industries (Toy-R-Us, Kodak), yet ignored what their customer was asking for before a “Going Out of Business” sign was hung on their storefront. Perhaps, 5G is what customers want, but it is exactly what Telcos need.