How burgers can beef up your 5G use case focus

There will be no shortage of 5G use cases for a long time, but many industry players are struggling to decide where to start. How about turning to something familiar for inspiration? Here’s why your local hamburger joint can offer some food for thought.

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As discussed in a previous blog post Why 5G will be an intensive learning journey, 5G is a learning-intensive market which requires extensive collaboration between businesses and service providers. The most important learnings are around use cases where 5G can make a difference in solving pressing business challenges.

On this journey, businesses and service providers run into one or several of the following challenges: 

  • 5G expanding into the business segment, and solving more complex business problems than cellular connectivity alone
  • Finding a common ground where business needs and solution capabilities align
  • Narrowing down to the most important use cases among a broad range of possibilities that come with 5G for a particular industry
  • 5G is a platform where the killer application is the breadth of use cases it can support – and more than one is often required to justify the initial investment.

The nature of these challenges is similar to the ones people face when launching a restaurant franchise. First, it’s important to find a location, or designated use place, where you can open your restaurant. Before you can scale, you also need to nail the concept. Start by focusing on the key menu items you need to attract initial customers, and you have your minimum viable product.

Once the concept has been validated, there are two ways you can scale your franchise. Firstly, you can add more locations, and secondly, you can add more items to the menu based on customer feedback across the franchise. 

Interestingly enough, the process kickstarting an industry with 5G is similar to the hamburger restaurant analogy. Simply put, you need to:

  • Find a type of use place where you see the high revenue potential
  • Nail a few use cases that serve your target use places
  • Reuse and extend your offering to similar places once they’ve been validated
  • Scale further with new use cases once the network is in place.

The initial nailing and scaling of use cases can be simplified if you can limit the amount of use cases required for success. I personally believe it can be done with three or fewer for any given use place. 


Location, location, location 

For anyone opening a restaurant franchise, it’s critical that the first restaurant becomes a success and easily replicable. The same applies to use places. Understanding the location where you wish to provide services is just as important as the use cases you plan to support. 

The number of possible use places you can consider will eventually be in double digits, and each use place and its specific characteristics will determine which use cases you need to support. 

Beyond the type of place, you need strong business partners who share your vision of unlocking business value with 5G in the first place. Ideally, you want them to join you on the journey to collaborate and co-create use cases that can be scaled down the road. 


Identifying the hamburger (or the use case that will attract customers first)

The first question you should ask is: which use case represents the hamburger in your customer's eyes? You cannot open a hamburger restaurant without burgers. You can sell hamburger meals that include fries, but you can’t sell French fry or milkshake meals.

Suitable questions to ask for defining your anchor use case are:

  • What is the problem you are trying to solve, and can it be done today?
  • Which use case needs cellular connectivity, first and foremost?
  • Is this use case big enough to justify the investment? 
  • Is this use case sufficient enough to provide a logical solution? 


Identify the milkshake (a complementary solution that improves margins)

The second question is what represents a milkshake in your customer's eyes? This is the use case that your customer sees as a logical complement to the anchor use case. The absence of this use case will severely limit your ability to nail the use place offers. 

Suitable questions to ask for defining a complementing high margin use case are: 

  • What are logical complements to your anchor use case, the hamburger? 
  • Does this second use case serve the same business stakeholders as the anchor use case?
  • Can you unlock additional value beyond the sum of the first two use cases?
  • Can the complementary use case leverage the same network capabilities as the anchor use case above? 
  • Can this use case deliver quantified value that your business customers will pay more for? 
  • Are the two initial use cases enough to trigger the required network investments? 


Find your French fries (necessary add-ons with no/low value)

The third use case category plays the role of the French fries. These use cases add substance to the offering, but have little or no potential to drive incremental revenues. 

Great questions to ask when finding your French fries are:

  • Which use cases add substance but there’s no/low willingness to pay extra? 
  • Which use cases have low incremental cost when added to the initial investment? 
  • Which use cases have a strong correlation to the first two categories? 

With one use case in each category, you maximize the chances of initial investment and minimize the risk of being dependent on too many use cases initially. A great concept allows you to introduce the base concept in new locations and allows for incremental use case innovation at your pilot location. 


What comes next?

 The second wave of customer-led use case innovation!

Up until now, you’ve focused on nailing the three use cases required for a use place to take off. Your next challenge is to scale your innovation as far as possible – by adding new menu items and expanding into more locations.

The main purpose of the first innovation wave is to find a base concept that is strong enough to justify the initial infrastructure build out. The second innovation wave is different in nature, as it is value driven and customer led. Once a business has access to an excellent connectivity network, innovations will emerge through Gemba-like walks (incremental innovation common in manufacturing plants).

Going back to the hamburger restaurant metaphor, these are use cases that can be compared to apple pies, nuggets, sundaes, salads and coffees. These use cases target micro-segments of opportunity, most of which are not visible in the early pursuit stages. Businesses play a more significant role in this innovation stage as the network already is in place. 


Bringing it all together 

With this final piece in the Practitioner’s Guide to 5G for business – our summer school for sales professionals, marketers, and product managers – you now have some insights into how to start advanced 5G conversations. 

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If you’ve read the full guide, you’re now able to explain how 5G contributes to accelerating the pace of the market and the complex 5G spectrum landscape in terms that business customers can understand. You should also be able to articulate how 4G, 5G, and Wi-Fi 6/6E complement each other – and where they compete.

Now, the extra cheese and pickles will come as you begin to realize 5G opportunities.

This post is the last part of our 5G Practitioner’s Guide where we outline 9 strategic conversations service providers should have in 2020 to accelerate 5G for business. Investing time in these topics will make you better equipped to engage in 5G dialogues with your business customers.  Thank you for following us on this learning journey and investing in your personal 5G competence growth.

Download all episodes of this paper

A practitioners’ guide to accelerate 5G for business in 2020

5G builds on the first 4 mobile generations to accelerate the business world

5G pushes importance of first-mover advantages to new levels

Why 5G will be an intensive learning journey

What different 5G spectrum options mean for your business

How 5G is transforming the mobile ecosystem

Why 5G use places can be more valuable than use cases

Wireless business connectivity: what are the options?

Emerging business models for private cellular networks

How burgers can beef up your 5G use case focus


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