Jun 27, 2021

5G, Edge, AI as Key Drivers of a Connected World

Rajeev Nayar, Vice President, ...
4 min
Rajeev Nayar explains how the rollout of 5G services coupled AI and edge computing has created immense business opportunities

5G has arrived. The rollout of 5G services coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) and edge computing has created immense business opportunities. To deliver a better customer experience, improve business process efficiencies, and create new revenue models in partnership with the industry eco-system and build a connected world.  The very high speed, large bandwidth, and enhanced connectivity of 5G, the accessibility and scalability of storage,  compute and intelligence enabled at the edge, and automation, accuracy, and predictability brought by AI mean that organisation will be able to sense the customer and business events in real-time and respond with actionable insights for immediate value creation. This will lead organisations to become sentient.

How do we make this happen? Businesses need to think of key initiatives with a superior value that can be enabled by advanced analytics and cognitive intelligence capabilities and build a platform blueprint for adopting these technologies to deliver it at scale.


5G technology is rapidly evolving for enhanced mobile broadband, machine to machine communication, ultra-low latency, and will soon become ubiquitous. The low latency and high throughput of 5G promises an exponential increase in data traffic through various devices. The intelligence closer to devices will help enterprises respond to market signals in real-time to capture significant value. And in doing so, 5G will offer better reliability and serviceability through software-defined networking.

To begin with, enterprises must understand the industry-wide impact of 5G, the value it delivers to B2C and B2B customers, how it dovetails with existing product/services offerings and how it improves the business processes to be more agile and responsive? The success of 5G will depend on the roadmap enterprises layout in partnership with suppliers to transform their supply chain, customer experience and digital, data, and analytics initiatives.

5G has much more to offer at a limitless scale. Enterprises in collaboration with players from the industry eco-system can create monetisation opportunities in gaming, health sciences, transportation, and more by leveraging use cases around AR/VR, wearables, autonomous cars, and smart cities, and so on. 


The advances in AI and AI-first approach are significantly enhancing the ability to rethink business processes in fundamental ways. AI applications are data-hungry; the more the data used for the learning, the better insights these algorithms produce. The 5G will supply a huge amount of data from various devices while edge will offer at-scale storage and compute capabilities for AI to be more effective. As data sources grow, AI will help the enterprise transition away from descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics to build more cognitive capabilities and drive a sentient outlook. 

Advances in and the intersection of natural language processing, cognitive science, and responsive AI are creating a high level of automation and intelligence, thus defining the future of enterprises to run it differently. Applied AI along with 5G and edge helps accelerate the realisation of use cases from the lab to the real world thereby improving the quality and speed of decision-making and effectively the velocity of business.

Edge Computing

The pay-as-you-use and on-demand availability of cloud computing enable more data analytics on the go. While centralised cloud computing will persist, radically new ways of data creation and processing at the device and network edge are creating new markets. 

For example, by using data and analytics on the Edge, retailers will be able to observe customer activities in store to increase the conversion. Video captured through smart/ non-smart cameras can be processed at device/far edge respectively to understand customer path thru store planogram, behaviour on product handlings, and also interaction of sales rep. The insights derived can help for conversions as well as improve sales rep productivity and planogram effectiveness.

Similarly, city administrators can improve public safety through vehicle-to-anything interactions by fusing data captured through sensors installed on moving vehicles including self-driving cars along with stationary sensors from buildings and traffic lights. With technologies that enable real-time streaming, analysis, and integration of video/sensor data, traffic police can understand citizen behaviour and put in place rules or campaigns to promote adherence to traffic rules. 

The common pattern to deliver these use cases will be to bring storage, compute, and intelligence – i.e. edge – close to where data originates. Hyperscalers, telcos, and OEMs are driving this change of edge with a strong focus on data security and privacy. A data-on-cloud infrastructure that complements the distributed 5G network footprint including edge will enable telecom operators to drive industry adoption of 5G. It can build partnerships that enable new applications/services across industries and monetise network capabilities. Data control and monitor will assure service quality and delivery.

In a nutshell, enterprises of the future will be live enterprises that are autonomous and sentient. They will have the capability to drive intuitive decisions, build responsive value chains, and deliver perceptive experiences, and all of these at scale. The key capabilities required to be a sentient/live enterprise include the ability to sense and acquire large amounts of data/ signals in real-time, infer intelligence from these events at the edges and react to these signals in real-time by integrating with enterprise and ecosystem players. 5G, Edge, and AI are at the cusp of making ‘sentient enterprise’ a reality and deliver a seamless experience to its customers.

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Jul 27, 2021

Vodafone: 5G could add £6.3bn to UK manufacturing by 2030

edge computing
2 min
manufacturing 5G Vodafone
A new report from Vodafone suggests that 5G could add as much as £6.3bn to UK manufacturing by 2030

A new report from Vodafone suggests that 5G could add as much as £6.3bn to UK manufacturing by 2030.

The report – Powering Up Manufacturing, Levelling Up Britain – employed economic analysis from WPI Economics to scope 5G’s impact on the manufacturing sector nationally.

Boost for 5G adoption

Vodafone’s paper calls on government to set ambitious targets for 5G adoption in manufacturing over the coming decade, including support for industry to invest in private 5G networks and 5G testing and innovation centres with a view to harnessing the benefits of IoT and edge computing in manufacturing.

Key areas of the report

  • Wirelessly connected factories with bespoke 5G mobile private networks (MPNs) can support the sharing of large quantities of data from thousands of devices simultaneously in real time, enabling better and faster decision making, facilitating machine learning and allowing processes to be adapted to maximise productivity.
  • 5G allows for predictive maintenance. This means monitoring hundreds of variables, forecasting when and where repairs will be needed and avoiding expensive unplanned downtime.
  • 5G-supported Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology can be used to visualise and plan designs in detail prior to the construction of physical prototypes. This will help workers to maintain and repair failed machinery and enable workers to be trained with less direct use of expensive physical machinery. 5G-supported AR and VR technology can also connect workers on a factory floor with engineers and designers located elsewhere, enabling them to access technical expertise without costly and time-consuming site visits.
manufacturing 5G Vodafone

Beginning the 5G journey

Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone said: “We are only beginning the 5G journey, but through our work with Ford, we know it offers huge potential for the manufacturing sector and beyond.

“To realise this potential, we need to all get behind it, from Government and Ofcom creating the right policy and regulatory environment, through to businesses embracing the power of innovation, and, of course, us as network operators creating this network of the future.”

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said: “5G can change the way Britain builds and we’ve sparked a wave of innovation in UK manufacturing through our £200m 5G trials scheme.

“We’ve seen driverless vehicles at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, VR at BAM Nutall building sites in Scotland and Vodafone boosting laser-welding robots in Essex.

“The benefits of 5G for improving productivity, efficiency and safety in our manufacturing sector and beyond are clear, and Vodafone’s report is a ringing endorsement of how this revolutionary technology can help us build back better from the pandemic.”

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