A small-business revolution is coming--and it will be wireless.
That's according to Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, a nonprofit organization that educates and advocates for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Kerrigan recently spoke with Inc. about the impact that the rollout of 5G's more reliable, lower latency wireless service will have on small businesses.
Here are three aspects of your business that 5G will help transform, according to Kerrigan.
1. The customer experience
Companies can offer new digital customer experiences, thanks to 5G. While Covid-19 hastened the transition from in-person retail to online shopping, Kerrigan points out that there are still aspects of physical storefronts that customers miss, like being able to try on clothing and accessories. To that end, more companies are offering digital try-on services using augmented or virtual reality. Kerrigan believes more businesses will begin offering these services, as well as AR services that allow them to visualize how other products like furniture, appliances, or home decor look in their homes. And it will all be possible from practically anywhere.
"5G is going to offer amazing opportunities for customers to experience and interact with products, goods, and services offered by small businesses," says Kerrigan. "It will save people time, save them money, and make it a lot easier for them to shop."
2. Employee engagement
Low latency cell service will help ensure that companies can easily communicate with employees using video--regardless of whether they're at home or in the field. "This will allow them to have a seamless experience that feels more meaningful," says Kerrigan. "That makes them feel more engaged in the business, which goes a long way when it comes to retention."
Companies will also be better able to train employees using 5G, as workers will be able to more reliably receive video instructions from managers. And AR-equipped glasses or mobile devices will allow workers to view instructions overlaid on the world around them. "Workers across industries from construction to roofing, landscaping, home decorating, and health care services can better meet their customer needs and reduce errors through this type of training and guidance," says Kerrigan.
3. Data storage
Covid-19 forced many companies to operate remotely and, in turn, to move much of their data to the cloud. Kerrigan predicts that the rollout of 5G will cause many businesses to expand their cloud infrastructure even further. "Companies will start thinking about other core business systems or services that they can move into the cloud," says Kerrigan. "5G will really allow them to take advantage of virtualization."
Kerrigan says that 5G will allow companies to leverage the internet of things, giving business owners deep knowledge of their companies at any time, from anywhere. "They'll embed sensors across business operations to improve the workflow and allow managers to track inventory and shelf space in real time," she says. "5G will bring the next level of digitization that improves productivity and efficiency for all types of small businesses."