How your business can take advantage of the 5G opportunity

The 5G excitement is building

The applications look mind boggling and will touch everyone’s lives, impacting every organisation in every sector.

We’ve heard about driverless cars, instant downloads, The Internet of Things, AI/AR/VR and other tongue twisting acronyms.

But there’s so much more. Here are just a few examples:

  • Doctors will be able to examine and consult with patients anywhere in the world. They’ll then be able to use smart medical devices to carry out remote surgery if needed.
  • In manufacturing, future industries will rely on 5G for automating plant and equipment control with predictive maintenance, automatic safety, process tracking, smart packing, shipping, logistics and energy management.
  • Farmers will be able to track location of livestock and manage them remotely. Smart sensors can be used for irrigation control, access control and energy management.
  • In our towns and cities, managers will have total control over resource allocation and deployment of the emergency services, making them safer and more efficient.

Are you ready for the 5G impact?

A recent survey by Accenture uncovered an element of complacency and even cynicism amongst technology and business executives regarding 5G.

53% believe there are “very few” things 5G will enable them to do, over and above what they can already do with 4G.

Only 2 out of 5 executives believe 5G will provide a revolutionary shift in speed and capacity.

And 72% of those surveyed need help to understand the future possibilities and use cases for 5G.

There’s a big educational job to do to get the message across.

Those who do get the 5G potential are in the minority.

They clearly understand that 5G is a disruptive technology.  It’s a massive opportunity that cannot be missed. Unlocking that vast potential will come down to visionary leadership.

It will change the way your company conducts its business – whatever industry or sector you’re in. You may not even be fully aware of the full impact 5G will have on your business. Now is the time to find out and plan accordingly.

That means making decisions based on facts, not hype – of which there is plenty.

The winners in the race to 5G will be those who plan ahead, to take advantage of the opportunities it will bring. There won’t be time to play “catch-up” from the back of the grid.

Getting your company over the 5G line

So how should you go about getting pole position for the biggest technology transformation program we’ve seen since the introduction of the internet?

McKinsey estimate that 70% of business-critical change initiative programs fail due to lack of planning up front. They point out that failure is often unwittingly ‘built into’ programs.

5G is a brute of a business- critical program that will challenge companies to do things they’ve never done before.

Coordinated program management – where everything is mapped out and joined up – is the only way to success.

To prevent your program becoming just another failed program here’s a guide – built on experience of successful program execution – to getting your strategy on the right track

You may feel these points are only common sense.  But the trouble with “common sense” is that it’s not very common. Many organisations find it easier to not to pay attention to these important issues – preferring to skate over them instead.

1. Executive alignment

It is absolutely critical for your top team to be working towards the same strategic goals. Otherwise, what chance does the rest of the organisation have to execute the strategy?

You need to clearly communicate the agreed approach to everyone in your organisation, set out what people’s roles are and what they’re accountable for, as part of the strategy.

This will leave everyone with a clear understanding and sense of purpose.

2. Separate a business-critical program such as 5G from ‘business-as-usual.’

Existing company organisational structures are built for dealing with day to day challenges. One thing’s for sure – implementing 5G is anything but “business as usual”.

Business-critical programs work best with a dedicated specialist core team whose sole focus is the 5G program, and then tapping into additional resources across the organisation as required. This structure ensures clear accountability and focus.

You need to get the right people with the right skills assigned to the core team, and they fully understand their roles. Then they need to be empowered with the authority to make decisions so that they feel they can make a difference.

3. Make sure the existing organisational structure doesn’t get in the way

The existing hierarchy within an organisation can impede success. A rigid “top down” culture can stifle highly capable program executioners from achieving their objectives. You need to give people their head to make decisions and deliver.

In larger organisations, you may need to make sure that departmental siloes don’t prevent the free flow of information vital to a program’s success.

4. Bridge the gap between theory and practice

This is a crucial point in the process. You’re now at the stage of executing the strategy.

Those involved in the strategy planning have made their recommendations and often throw them over the fence for others to execute and work out in practical terms how 5G is going to happen.

Their original plan may be over-ambitious. There may be limitations in the ability of the organisation to deliver.

This will require strong and effective leadership to streamline goals and redirect resources to focus on what can and should be achieved within the timescale.

5. Plan for contingencies to mitigate the risk of failure

Prepare for the unexpected so it’s not a surprise. Have plans and resources lined up and ready to be implemented.

External factors will always threaten program success. Deciding how to respond requires answers to the following questions:

  • What has happened?
  • Why has it happened?
  • Is it going to continue?
  • What are we going to do about it?

6. Measuring the results

Tracking the progress of a program against objectives is vital. Even more important is that those leading the program take on board the facts presented to them by those who know the true state of play.

Applying sticking plasters to fundamental problems won’t hide the real issues – as the management of Crossrail recently found out.

There needs to be a reporting system that clearly shows hard facts and performance insight. This is to identify, track and avert any threats to the program. And to identify what’s improved – after all, measurement is also a tool for finding ways to do things better.

Get your 5G program off on the right start

5G is an exciting prospect and will open up massive opportunities. Getting to market before your competitors is what your stakeholders expect.

With such a complex business-critical program, you need in-depth planning and program management for it to succeed.

Fully understanding 5G and how your products, services and customers can benefit from its immense power, is key.

Don’t be complacent. The race is now on and you could get left behind.


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