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What is the 5G journey from showcase to use(ful)case?

In 2017, there has been an ever-stronger industry commitment to 5G. But now our focus must shift to turning all the fancy showcases we've seen at events into use-cases. Or rather useful-cases, in which the 5G capabilities are prioritized where they matter the most.

What is the 5G journey from showcase to use(ful)case?
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A broad spectrum of showcases

The 5G showcases we have seen so far cover a very broad spectrum of industries and devices. Early prototypes have allowed us to get a  feeling for what 5G can support and enable.

As pointed out in the blog post on the DNA of a use case we often start with a challenge in a specific industry and its associated technology innovations.

  • Broadband and media - with mobility, 4K and virtual/augmented reality
  • Smart vehicles and transport - transforming the job to get from A to B
  • Critical services and infrastructure control - elevating the role of infrastructure
  • Critical control of remote devices - increasing the amount of time we can leave devices unattended
  • Human-machine interactions -  artificial Intelligence in any shape and form
  • Sensor-based networks – anything that can be measured will be measured.

The showcases we have seen to date are great examples of minimum viable products. Products designed for extensive feedback to get the concept right.

The art of pinpointing useful cases

A critical activity for the second phase – once the first product generation is out –  is to firm up the use cases for commercial launch. This journey requires sharpening our sense of what jobs must be done in order for innovative solutions to lead the 5G service launches.

The showcase phase also allows us to focus on what innovation solutions can do and evaluating which of the industry showcases are strong enough to drive a commercial launch.

An improved user experience is central to use case prioritization. Customer experience is the foundation for success in the market, and our ability to deliver a better experience will define what is useful and what is not.

A useful use case serves one of three purposes: A market need that is currently unserved, and where no real solution exists today. A market need that is underserved, where the current solution can be significantly improved. And the third, and least intuitive, a market need that is overserved and where a more optimized solution can allow for a new business model.

Blend the best of solution and business model innovations

As we move towards commercial launches of 5G, we can expect a handful of useful cases defining the launch phase. Where both solution and business model innovation are leveraged to maximize the potential of each useful case. All industry cases will not be optimized in the first commercial phase, but a few need to be in place to drive the service launch phase.

Due to the innovative nature of the 5G market, we expect a combination of both solution and business model innovation in play – experimentation across the whole eco-system – rather than each individual building blocks. This represent a new reality for all contributing parties. Solution collaborations across the whole eco-systems and business models satisfying multiple needs is the new reality.

Predictions for the future

My predictions for the journey from 5G showcases to useful use cases are:

  • Useful use-cases will require close collaborations across the whole eco-system in play for a given application.
  • 3-5 solid use cases will be the foundation for the commercial 5G launches.
  • A clear view of the jobs to be done is critical for turning a showcase into a useful use case.
  • Each industry will focus on 1-2 use cases, strong enough to fuel the initial 5G build out momentum.
  • Evolved fixed and mobile broadband – as well as media & entertainment and automotive – will be the driving forces behind the initial 5G build and associated service launches.

Please listen to me on Ericsson's 15 Minutes with 5G podcast.  I'm talking about making your network powerful with a 5G ready core.

Or you can explore our 5G use cases and ecosystem partnerships. Or for a deeper dive, gain insights into leading operators’ thoughts on the essential features of 5G and the opportunities they plan to pursue to monetize 5G in the on-demand version of our recent webinar.

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