When we talk about 5G, there are a few names that usually come up. The big telecom players like AT&T and Verizon are obvious inclusions. And there are hardware companies like Apple and Samsung that now offer numerous 5G devices.
But you might not have heard a lot from small businesses. In fact, right about now, the average small business owner might be thinking: What does this do for me, anyway? You’re probably not going to be installing your own 5G antennas in electrical enclosures outside your business, so what benefits can you expect to derive from 5G?
Actually, there’s a lot that 5G can potentially do for your business. For entrepreneurs willing to embrace the transition, 5G might be able to provide your small business with the leg up that it needs to thrive. Read up on these five ways that 5G can benefit small business owners so you can start thinking about how you might make this technology work for your business.
- Customer transactions can become smoother and more secure
4G gave us innovations like mobile payment processing and cloud-based point of sale that have provided small businesses with a major network booster for office. 5G offers even more opportunities for a more connected and friendly landscape for small businesses and the customers who patronize them.
What kind of new payment technologies might 5G give us? It’s still a little too early to say, but we can expect to see a variety of benefits to retail and service payments such as a greatly increased number of acceptance points, as well as incredibly fast and seamless transactions throughout the purchase process.
The 5G rollout will thus be a key part of the continuing shift toward mobile eCommerce. Combined with the continuing boom in e-wallets and instant payment services like Cash App and Venmo, one can now imagine a future with truly instant mobile commerce where it’s possible to buy almost anything from almost anywhere.
- New customer experiences will become possible
Technologies like alternate reality and virtual reality are cutting-edge in today’s world. But once 5G rolls out, there’s a good chance that AR and VR will become much more common.
That’s because 5G will provide much more easily available bandwidth for these data-hungry applications. With the amazing speed and efficiency increases that 5G promises, small businesses will be able to create customized AR and VR experiences that truly set them apart from their competitors.
What kind of experiences might we see? Clothing brands might offer a “digital mirror” that allows you to superimpose an outfit over your current clothing, while furniture companies will make it easier than ever to visualize a piece in your home. Some small businesses might even spring up wholly based on AR and VR, offering specific fun or exciting AR or VR experiences.
- The Internet of Things will continue to give businesses new tools
The Internet of Things (IoT), the network of smart devices that’s likely already in both your home and your business, keeps creating new opportunities for businesses. As 5G becomes more widespread, it will offer an increasing variety of chances to connect your business to IoT technologies in profound and transformative ways.
IoT gives small businesses an important opportunity to make their operations more data-driven. Many businesses are using IoT solutions to perform functions like tracking inventory, improving predictive maintenance practices and monitoring storage conditions. Plus, these IoT applications allow businesses not just to track data but to use it to automate processes.
Lots of potential also exists in customer-facing IoT. Smart devices can perform important functions for customers, such as placing orders via a voice assistant or guiding customers to what they’re looking for via Bluetooth beacons. Each of these technologies also presents an opportunity to collect (with the customer’s consent) valuable data and use it to refine business practices.
- Innovators will create new technologies and build small businesses around them
Every new technology has tech-savvy entrepreneurs who are ready to create something new, and 5G will doubtless be no different. Once 5G’s promised speeds become widely available, all kinds of technologies are likely to follow, and more innovation and more new businesses means opportunity for everybody.
Existing small businesses will have exciting new options for partnerships and investment. Many startup owners have successfully grown their businesses by serving local businesses that weren’t getting the solutions they needed from big industry players. 5G could supercharge these innovation processes by facilitating the development of new business models.
New technologies can also help solve problems for small businesses and create stronger ties to communities. When everyone has access to 5G’s highest data speeds, there will be no shortage of new ways to solve old problems, and businesses will have the opportunity to find a niche in the constantly evolving world of tech.
- 5G will be a huge part of the remote work revolution
Working remotely is a critical element of the labor market today, and many small businesses will operate entirely remotely in the future. That means everything from pitching to clients to applying for a business license, to workshopping a new product may move online. With stakes like that, business owners need to make sure they have fast and reliable data connections on their mobile devices. Of course, that’s why we have 5G! The high speeds and low latency of 5G are a perfect fit for an always-on, cloud-based business where people are working from many different locations. It will be particularly important for applications that require extensive field work, collect mobile payments or work with data on the fly.
But 5G isn’t even just for mobile. Some companies now offer 5G internet for homes and businesses using fixed wireless broadband technology. This technology beams a 5G signal straight into a receiver in your house, and it usually doesn’t even require the standard technician visit and cable junction box installation. Fixed wireless broadband can be a solid alternative for remote workers without access to standard high speed broadband, such as people in rural areas.