Why 5G will lead to more flex positions and greater employee engagement

5G is especially exciting for companies that need better connectivity. Eric Hanson of Fuze explains how businesses can prepare to take advantage of 5G and the possible benefits to expect.

Why 5G will lead to more flex positions and greater employee engagement

5G is expected to have a transformative impact on our cities, our health and just about every facet of our everyday lives. The workforce will be greatly affected as well by the possibilities of this new generation of wireless connectivity. I spoke with Eric Hanson, the VP of market intelligence at Fuze, about the enormous impact 5G will have on the enterprise. The following is an edited transcript of our interview.

Eric: Thanks for having me...5G is really an exciting technology. Actually one of the pilot cities that Verizon is rolling out in is in my backyard in Sacramento, California. When we think of things like IoT or the enterprise version of IoT, we think about maybe self-driving trucks or cars, drone enabled use cases that help us in more rural areas, around things like farming. There's a whole bunch of different use cases that open up new economic opportunities for communities, for organizations and actually for workers. This is where we can actually expand potentially beyond just the way we think about knowledge workers, traditionally in unified communications, but also front line workers which, in some cases, have been underrepresented and maybe not as engaged with their companies. So we see a huge opportunity just in terms of more inclusivity and really, empowering organizations to drive greater engagement of their employees as well as really driving efficiencies.

SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (TechRepublic download)

Karen: There is so much talk surrounding 5G when it comes to smart cities, how will things change in that realm?

Eric: So I think, again, it's an exciting time. Again, I live in a secondary market based out of our San Francisco office. But I live in the Sacramento region, which is a secondary market. And it's a market that is combined ... it combines high tech with more rural business like farming. California is one of the state's that has quite a bit of agriculture and when you think about some of the use cases, or things that we like to talk about at Fuze, things like collaboration in the field where you are connecting front line workers, field workers, or experts, whether it be farming or other types of industries, where maybe they haven't had that connectivity back to a home office or to other experts at their headquarters.

And now all of a sudden, 5G combined with communications technology really opens the door for those types of use cases where maybe the efficiency wouldn't have been there in terms of going back and forth to the office. You're going to service something, but do you have the right part? All of a sudden, 5G increases the accessibility to greater, richer connectivity and then opens the door for much greater interaction to solve some of those types of problems.

It also opens the door for maybe areas where you don't have good connectivity relative to say, Comcast or maybe your carrier doesn't offer high speed Internet. All of a sudden, organizations can take advantage of secondary markets or even smaller markets than that, and explore access to talent, where talent lives, versus trying to drive them towards urban areas. So I think it really opens the door on a whole bunch of different fronts from an economic development perspective, for communities, but also from the perspective of really enabling this, what we like to call "employ me" generation of workers that are entering the workforce. That's working where you feel the most productive, it can be more important than clocking in 9 to 5 and having to go into a main office.

So, we think it's really going to empower organizations from that perspective as well in a very competitive labor market.

Karen: There are so many companies that are going to want to take advantage of 5G and there are several cases I know that you know of specifically. So just talk about some of those and any advice you may have for companies that are looking to take advantage of 5G when it does roll out.

Eric: It is still in the very early days. And it's funny because you can ... your audience can definitely look online and read a lot of articles about what is 5G really. And some of the carriers that are really pioneering, I think the technology, and they are out in front and others are quickly trying to play catch up and even using variations of the words 5G to kind of keep up in the short-term from a marketing perspective. But, organizations really need to just be thinking about it in terms of what is their culture ... Starting fundamentally, what's the culture of your business? What is your business? Do you have front line workers? It's a challenge with keeping those front line workers engaged with the company. We've got trucking companies that one of their biggest challenges when they came and consulted with us was, they had a challenge with truck drivers turning and one of the reasons was that communications was a challenge for those truck drivers as they're driving across the country.

And so again, the availability in terms of accessibility to richer connectivity and better tools for communication and collaboration back to the home office, makes the employee experience for those types of workers much better. Therefore, they want to stay engaged with that company because it's a good place to work. Because they are making a good living and because they don't have that type of barrier to staying connected back to the home office. So I think that those are some examples. Another quick example using trucking, we have a very large customer in North America with 15,000 trucks where they've enabled Samsung tablets in these trucks tying it back to dispatch. And that's a huge move, moving away from traditional sort of proprietary in- truck technologies that you might see in a police car today or what have you.

They've moved to something that is closer to off the shelf, which is a ... really lessens the burden on IT but again, also gets back to creating a much better engagement for that worker that's driving that truck back to the home office. But the other thing that that particular customer is doing which is really exciting and I think 5G has the opportunity to help enable is this idea of what happens when a truck breaks down? When you have a tool that is optimized for a richer communication and collaboration experience powered by that type of connectivity that higher speed options, LTE when it's available and certainly 5G will take this even further, now all of a sudden, that driver then assess the situation over video with a technician back at the home office.

Now they are dispatching the right technician with the right set of parts versus having to go back and forth which is traditionally what has happened, which is hugely inefficient and costly to the company. So it's those types of things that I think will really move the needle for organizations as we think about some of these non-traditional use cases. Another example would be in health care where we see a lot of younger workers, and we've got some customers that are doing this, coming into the workforce initially as in the field workers going in home and leveraging ... rather than just relying on a traditional dial in type of interaction with the home office or with doctors back at the home office, they are having richer experience leveraging video and again, 5G is really going to enable those richer experiences to really optimize the experience both for that worker, but also for the person that they are giving care for.

So it's a really exciting time in terms of how all these things are converging together.

Karen: We certainly appreciate your insight...Eric Hanson of Fuze with us today. For more on 5G and what's to come with the technology, we have lots of articles on ZDNet and TechRepublic.

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