This year, the triumphant arrival of 5G to Belfast certainly had everyone talking. We’re one of the first cities in the UK and Ireland to have it – and we’re well on track for region-wide roll out throughout 2020.
The new ‘fifth generation’ networks promise huge download speeds, greater stability and more capacity than ever before, bringing new and exciting benefits for everyone, and particularly business.
What’s important to remember though is that 5G’s arrival isn’t being defined by a single new technology or an overnight revolution. It will start to unlock the opportunities for the development of more advanced technologies and applications such as AI and automation. That takes time.
So, as you look forward to what 5G will bring, have you ever really explored, utilised and felt all the business benefits of the 4G handset in your hand? Believe it or not, everything you need right now, and more, is at your fingertips.
For a start, it remains relatively new. It was only introduced in 2012 and many people are only now starting to get used to its benefits. It’s also highly reliable, there’s widespread geographic coverage and there are a range of applications it can readily handle.
The introduction of 4G brought speed and reliability to a new generation of users who embraced its potential and helped to encourage a much greater focus on flexible working, improved productivity and digital innovation. Aligned with greater Wi-Fi availability, higher speeds and a proliferation of business and personal apps, it’s hard to think what we were doing before mobiles arrived.
Yet still, few of us are utilising its full potential.
Using applications such as Microsoft 360 means you can replicate your ‘network’ computer anywhere you are, giving you and your colleagues free and easy access to all your stored files and data. In fact, the entire Microsoft Office suite which is available as an app for mobile devices and tablets means there’s little you need to do back at the office if you don’t need to.
Think you need to be in the office to hold or attend a meeting? Your immediate tendency is yes, but do you really? With the technology available, voice and video conferencing means that you can connect with one or several members of your team for an update or to progress a project quickly without the need for traffic and travel.
Have a bigger project, proposal or correspondence to deal with that requires focused thought and concentration? Your office and colleagues are of course important, but so is peace and quiet to think. Experience the peaceful joy of working remotely, at home or away, using your mobile or tablet and see your productivity improve.
With new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, your mobile can even replace your old office handset, diverting calls straight to you through an innovative ‘Avaya’ app that logs your calls, collects messages and even arranges workplace meetings.
Additionally, if you use new cloud technology, capacity and storage issues are removed and online software management and business programmes can be easily and quickly updated on the move.
There’s no question that 5G will bring big benefits and businesses are already preparing to exploit the opportunities which it will bring. But that doesn’t mean you need to align your business plan now.
Fortunately, businesses across Northern Ireland have a few years yet to fully explore the options further as they exploit the benefits of the technology available now.