Obtaining the edge in the 5G era ahead: SME Edition

Jayden Soh, Head of Solutions, HKBN JOS

We are about to enter a new dawn of connectivity, and 5G will change the world as we know it with some studies predicting that mobile operators in Asia-Pacific are expected to spend more than 400 billion U.S. dollars on their networks between 2020 and 2025, with 331 billion U.S. dollars on 5G deployments. According to a study conducted by GlobalData, Asia Pacific will also be the largest region for 5G adoption with a 44% share, followed by North America with 32% in terms of revenue by 2024.

There are no boundaries that 5G cannot push as it supercharges great advancements to many industries spanning from telemedicine to manufacturing. Going beyond just a bridge between people and information, 5G will also connect people to millions of devices on a single network within geographical areas.

With many SMEs embracing remote work, the constant and reliable access to 5G will elevate the remote working experience by empowering remote workers to communicate and collaborate with colleagues with greater ease.

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Essentially, the increased reliability and near-zero lag time that 5G has will transform the way we live, work and our daily lives.

Opportunities for SMEs

The advent of 5G technologies present enterprises of all sizes with unprecedented possibilities and new capabilities. With ultra-low latency and superfast download and upload speeds, the user experience that we know today will change immeasurably along with the rise of new consumer behaviours and expectations.

As 5G continues to gain traction in Singapore, consumers will expect businesses to adapt accordingly to deliver services that support their usage patterns. This means that 5G will no longer be just a good to have but will become a fundamental requirement for businesses to continue growing in this new digital environment – organisations in Singapore will need to adapt this reality to capitalise on the full potential 5G has to offer.

With an increased network capacity, SMEs will be able to leverage on 5G to maximise the efficiency and usage of equipment, optimising costs while achieving greater productivity and larger business growth.

Moreover, 5G will enable SMEs to adopt other disruptive technologies to transform the way they operate and expand revenue streams with new ideas that we cannot imagine yet.

Lastly, 5G will also unlock new opportunities to create and generate newer and more accurate data that would play a crucial role for SMEs in keeping up with ever-shifting customers’ demands.   

At the heart of this monumental change, SMEs must capitalise on these opportunities and leverage on technology to strengthen their data management and analytics capabilities to derive maximum value from the large amounts of data 5G will generate.

Doing so will not only enable SMEs to further boost productivity and streamline operations internally, but also exceed customer expectations through new ideas.

Risks and dangers for SMEs

Like every other technology, there are certain risks involved with 5G. Cybercriminals, just like organisations, will be looking to fully leverage 5G and its abilities. The adoption of 5G technology will likely result in new security vulnerabilities for SMEs that we may not possibly be able to foresee now.

At the same time, since more information and communication technology components are also required by the 5G network as compared to its predecessors, this may result in business disruption and cyber threat manipulation.

Aside from utilising sophisticated encryption and effective security monitoring systems, SMEs must also make every effort to remain in the know about the latest security threats and measures in order to stay secure in what would be a rapidly evolving landscape.

The perception of 5G being just an emerging technology and not having many use cases is a common misconception many SMEs have. The potential for 5G to unleash innovation, thereby speeding up the delivery of applications and digital services, means that in the long run, 5G will become the standard for digital connectivity, and leveraging 5G will benefit SMEs who made the switch early most.

Areas SMEs must take note of while harnessing 5G

A digital core is imperative for any business looking to unlock greater potential in the digital future ahead.

With 5G adoption will come waves of massive data which could potentially overwhelm an enterprise’s data infrastructure if they are not agile enough to handle this surge in data. To support this ever-increasing data load, SMEs must work to ensure their data architecture and data warehouse management achieve consistency while deploying technologies in their infrastructure.

SMEs must also leverage on cloud platforms to be resilient and agile to achieve better business continuity and growth in a remote cloud reality.

Lastly, when it comes to safeguarding confidential information and applications, SMEs must adopt a holistic approach by assessing current security posture and ensuring that all gaps and vulnerabilities are addressed before moving forward.

Conclusion

A promising future lies ahead for SMEs in the region as 5G will transform the SME landscape in time to come. One factor that will set the top SMEs apart will be their ability to fully leverage on 5G. SMEs will hold the advantage of 5G over their larger MNC counterparts due to their agile nature and ability to ensure it integrates well with current information technology solutions.

The key is to work with a trusted technology partner with the necessary expertise which will help SMEs unlock the full opportunity of 5G.

It is crucial for SMEs to plan ahead for the future and consider how 5G could disrupt one’s business, lead to the creation of new opportunities and get overtaken by competitors. 5G is likely to not only usher in a new age of entrepreneurs and innovators but also boost overall revenue, reduce operating costs and revolutionise customer experience with SMEs being able to deliver services and solutions in a much shorter time.

As the world moves full steam ahead on 5G, one thing is for sure – 5G will spur tremendous change globally and become the greatest enabler of innovation for businesses, big or small. Change is now survival-critical for businesses.