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5G A Top IT Investment Priority for Business Customers in 2021

by David Kerr | 4月 29, 2021

2020 was a hugely challenging year of shifting priorities, changing end user needs and increased complexity in supporting the needs of huge numbers of workers forced to work from home (WFH) due to the covid-19 crisis. Levels of work from home varied by country and by vertical and by occupation of course before the pandemic. The pandemic opened a Pandora's  box of problems and opportunities for IT Decision Makers (ITDM). 

Support for Zoom and other video conferencing solutions is just the tip of the iceberg.

ITDM were faced with a huge set of questions in terms of which devices to support, what security provisions needed to be revisited and what level of performance and access to provide newly established work from home staff.

Strategy Analytics has been evaluating the impact of WFH and remote working over the last year from both an employee perspective and from the business perspective. The good news is for the most part both employees and businesses have survived the worst that covid-19 and 2020 could throw at them. Some workers loved the flexibility of working from home while others loathed it. Some businesses adapted smoothly on the fly to new legions of remote/home based workers and others bordered on chaos. 

Two Thirds of businesses expect IT spending to increase in the next 12 months.

At this stage, no-one is sure how much of the WFH and increased mobility of work will sustain long term. It will vary across industries, countries, and cultures. However what is certain is that businesses have been given a rude awakening on just how quickly "normal" business practices and provisioning of necessary technology support can be disrupted.

The need for supply chain optimization, business process digitalization and optimization which were evident before covid-19 have been exponentially increased after the year that was 2020. Given the huge disruption to revenues, production, profits and growth due to covid-19 many firms accelerated plans that were already in place figuring the year was a write off and they may as well make necessary investments sooner rather than later.  

A range of investment priorities exist in different priorities across industries with management attention being sought including:

  • Productivity tools
  • Collaboration tools
  • Unified Communication
  • Business Intelligence/Analytics
  • Customer Relationship Management – CRM
  • Applications specific to your industry
  • Internet of Things – IoT
  • Artificial Intelligence – AI
  • Augmented Reality – AR
  • Virtual Reality – VR
  • 5G for mobile devices
Strategy Analytics regularly probes ITDMs around the world on priorities, attitudes to emerging trends, reality vs hype and benefits vs roadblocks as they seek to enable business success.

5G is already firmly top of mind for many business technology decision makers.

A survey of 4000 IT Decision Makers by Strategy Analytics  in April 2021 across 18 countries found:

  • 14% of firms rank Productivity Tools as their top priority for investment
  • Industry Specific Apps, CRM and 5G for mobile devices were all ranked as top priority by 12% of ITDMs.  This is a hugely impressive statistic for fledgling 5G devices.
  • Other buzzword bingo hot topics like AI and IoT  are listed as top priority by only 9% and  8% of ITDMs respectively. 


On another dimension the same survey suggests:

  • 1 in 3 firms are currently implementing or investigating how to integrate 5G in the next 12 months.  
  • Financial services and Manufacturing industry respondents are most advanced in evaluating 5G.
  • As expected there is a Large enterprise skew with 40% of 1000+ report they are implementing or investigating how to integrate 5G  in next year

Interest in 5G among a wide range of verticals and sizes across both mature and emerging markets appears robust.

The devil will be in the detail of what type of implementations will be supported.

Strategy Analytics plans to undertake a deeper dive on 5G plans for businesses in the next few months. Some of the question topics we are considering include the following. We would welcome your input and priorities for exploration.

Attitudes to 5G

  • 5G will be mainly about smartphone upgrades
  • 5G will be mainly about fixed applications (factory, warehouse, logistics, office, in-store) not necessarily traditional mobile worker/professional segment…
  • For 5G, we are most interested in improved download speeds
  • For 5G, we are most interested in low latency benefits
  • For 5G we are most interested in a Single Private Enterprise VPN or SD/WAN that supports access from All Fixed and Mobile devices/termination points incl. Work from Home (WFH)
  • For 5G, we are most interested in security benefits
  • For 5G, we are most interested in mobility benefits
  • 5G will reduce congestion in our wireless networks
  • For 5G, we are interested in ML, Vision learning and other IoT type applications
  • 5G will enhance our Cloud strategy
  • For 5G, we are most interested in AI
  • For 5G, we are most interested in Big Data analytics

 SA is also exploring the perceived benefits for businesses from 5G

  • 5G will create new business opportunities for my company
  • 5G Network Slicing will reduce cost of my Private Network
  • 5G will change the way my company interacts with our customers
  • 5G will create new opportunities within my industry and market
  • 5G will create opportunities for me, my role and my profession
  • I know which applications of 5G will be most beneficial to my company
  • Businesses that do not adopt 5G will fall behind their peers
  • Access to 5G technology will accelerate my company’s recovery from COVID-1
  • We have enough information to develop a plan to use 5G at my company

Developing a deep understanding of essential technological features of 5G that each type of business is looking for will be critical including:

  • Multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO)

    • Device-to-device connection
    • Inherent Network security
    • Virtualized network functions
    • Network slicing
    • Integrated RAN/backhaul
    • Network automation
    • Distributed core/mobile edge
    • Beamforming
    • Ultra-low Latency (ULL)
    • Licensed/lightly licensed spectrum
    • Deterministic SLAs

    Interest in different type of Network Slices are also something we believe is important to quantify:

    • Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) e.g. Peer to Peer Video Sharing
    • Ultra-low latency (URLLC) e.g. Edge Processing for Drones
    • Massive Machine Type Communications for devices (mMTC) e.g. IoT Subnet control
    • Vehicles connected to each other and other terminations (V2X)
    • Hybrid Private Public Networks (PNI-NPN)
    • Seamless WiFi6 and 5G Access on and off site
    • SD/WAN – On and Of Site for Work from Home
    • Multi-Campus VxLAN 5G Connectivity
    • Special Transactions Networks e.g. Blockchain, FinTech
    • Factory /Supplier JIT Extranets
    • Metro Area Mobile and Fixed Secure Healthcare /Telemedicine
    We will be going to field in a few select countries and vertical markets in the next month and we would welcome your input and priorities for exploration. Coverage for additional countries and topics can be undertaken by our B2B consulting team around the world.
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