UK Enterprises Look To 5G To Alleviate COVID-19 Business Pressures: EY


By Juan Pedro Tomás

UK enterprises are looking to 5G to help alleviate immediate business pressures brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and related global events, according to a new study by EY.

The EY Reimagining industry futures study revealed that 80 per cent of respondents say the impact of the global health crisis is driving their interest in 5G, up from 62 per cent in last year’s study.

EY’s study showed that 79 per cent of respondents say supply chain disruption has galvanized their 5G pursuit, while 68 per cent cite the focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. However, 40 per cent are concerned that 5G and internet of things (IoT) vendors’ current use cases do not meet their business resilience and continuity needs, and 51 per cent do not think their sustainability goals are addressed by today’s use cases.

Advanced 5G use cases featuring virtual or augmented reality are cited by just 22 per cent of UK respondents as a key application, compared to 49 per cent who favor process optimization.

EY UK and Ireland technology, nedia and telecoms leader, Praveen Shankar said: “While the hype around how 5G low latency could power the metaverse or commercialize augmented reality continues to build, the study shows that the technology has moved out of its infancy, with enterprises’ interest now fuelled by real-world challenges. This should be applauded, with 5G following the same innovation cycle of other transformative technologies. Sophisticated use cases will become important in time. More pressing, however, is the need for 5G providers to adapt their solutions to the practical demands of industry 4.0 today.”

5G leads all other emerging technologies tracked in the study in terms of future spending intentions, with more than half (56%) of UK businesses planning to invest in 5G within the next three years.

However, despite this promising outlook in terms of future 5G adoption, enterprises are less confident than before that they can deploy 5G to the best of their ability. Only 18 per cent are very confident that they can successfully implement 5G, down 4 per cent compared to last year.

EY global telecommunications lead analyst, Adrian Baschnonga said: “There are still fundamental anxieties around how 5G works alongside other emerging technologies. 5G providers should take this on board and adapt their customer discussions accordingly. By educating enterprises on how 5G can be harnessed by other emerging technologies, service providers can boost enterprise confidence in their 5G deployments.”

The study further finds that 71 per cent of UK enterprises are interested in using private networks to support implementation of 5G and IoT use cases, while 66 per cent are interested in buying 5G through an intermediary.

EY’s study also revealed that telecoms operators face a significant gap in terms of credibility. Only 13 per cent of enterprises view them as digital transformation experts, down from 19 per cent the previous year. Conversely, 33 per cent trust network equipment vendors as favored digital transformation experts, up from 13 per cent last year.

“Disruptive customer signals suggest that telcos’ traditional relationships with enterprise customers are under pressure and more agile go-to-market strategies are essential in a 5G-IoT world. Telcos should take steps now to ensure that they can meet enterprise demand for private network deployments,” Shankar added.

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