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5G – Game-changer, or hype?

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It has become increasingly clear that digitising businesses is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a necessity that if not already completed or underway at your organisation, now essentially needs to happen overnight. Adding to the urgency and need for companies across all sectors to prioritise digitisation, is the rise of Fifth-Generation cellular wireless networks – ‘5G’. Not simply a faster 4G, 5G has been hyped up to be one of the most transformative technologies in the history of telecommunications. 5G is 10 times faster, supports 10,000 times more network traffic and can handle 100 times more devices than 4G networks while enabling one-fiftieth the latency (the time it takes a message to go from one device to another) with zero perceived downtime. Holding the promise of such high data speeds, underpinned by such substantial improvements in latency, capacity and bandwidth – this fifth-generation network technology is truly more than simple hype. It’s the catalyst in an evolution in advanced products and services that includes everything from mobile, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality, the ‘internet of things’ (IoT) and so much more.

5G is a cloud-based network that connects people on mobile devices to the internet faster than previous networks. Unlike 4G which requires cables and infrastructure to run optimally in a suburban or commercial setting, 5G’s cellular towers amplify cloud-based signals eliminating much of the infrastructure and cabling requirements. And these are just what futurists and technologists call ‘first order effects’; those benefits that are directly attributed to 5G’s properties. Beyond these, 5G will help realise the potential of many other emerging technologies, and foreshadow new approaches, ideas and business models that no one has yet conceived of. Fully realised, 5G networks will pave the way to a host of new options for streaming content, live events, gaming, and other high-quality immersive and interactive experiences as well as usher in a sea change in both product and service innovation, experience and delivery.

It is no secret that 5G will open a door to new consumer services and experiences, as well as expand enterprise opportunities across a broad spectrum of verticals and use cases. Increased broadband speeds will facilitate and likely encourage even greater consumption of content. Streaming will become instantaneous and all downloading will happen in seconds rather than minutes. In addition, the massive amount of bandwidth available may see business models around mobile changing in response. For instance, the abundance and ubiquity of broadband could see a future where users are no longer charged for data use but are billed in other ways that encourage them to use their devices more, without worrying about cost. It thus follows, that a new ‘5G marketing mindset’ focussed on use cases, customer experience and immersion as well as product and service differentiation is increasingly becoming a critical priority for marketers. The right strategy starts with asking how 5G can impact fundamental marketing strategies and product mix across multiple industries. Marketers will need to consider abandoning their current tried and tested playbooks and open their imagination to the limitless possibilities of what could be achieved when harnessing the full potential of 5G technology. Marketing with 5G requires a complete rethink of your four P’s: product, place, price and promotion. It need not only be about promoting your product in isolation, now by leveraging 5G marketers

Rethinking What You’re Selling – Product / Service

Things that aren’t readily possible today, like true live dynamic and interactive virtual experiences and tutorials, will become a reality in the 5G world. 4G has served consumers well in some use cases, but 5G will enable vastly richer customer experiences. Want a VR cooking lesson, an in-home mixed reality interior design consultation or to experience a live event through the power of VR? Think about a MasterClass series, but with Malcolm Gladwell for instance, actually being beamed right into your lounge to give you that introduction to writing class essentially in person. 5G makes it possible.

Delivery Where Consumers Want It – Place

Likewise, 5G may realise the possibility of ‘Minority Report’ like adverting. For those unfamiliar with the Tom Cruise Block buster, Minority Report is a movie set in the future where one of the features is personalised in situ advertising. In the film, ad’s are served to customers based on retinal scanning and recognition technology paired with big data to deliver personalised tailored ad content and discounting based on your individual preferences, purchasing habits and location at the time. Marketers will soon be able to deliver what customers want, where and when they want it, as network capacity will no longer be a restricting factor with 5G. Consumers will no longer have to go to a store or open their laptop to find out about, test or buy products. Using 5G, products can be marketed to customers anywhere, leveraging a plethora of newly imagined devices. Take going to the gym for example, advertising could be done directly via a connected health device like an Apple watch or Fitbit. Signup packages could be introduced utilising try before you buy virtual classes delivered ‘in-home’ leveraging AR or VR technology supporting one-on-one virtual personal training sessions.

Monetisation – Price

5G will enable marketers to offer their customers tiered immersive experiences perhaps spanning from baseline to intermediate and premium or even exclusive experiences for AR and VR. One-size-fits-all pricing models that do not differentiate value will increasingly become a thing of the past as the world of mass customisation finds a delivery channel that will support and encourage dynamic pricing models, much the same as those used in airfare pricing – everyone is on the same plane but almost every individual ticket has a unique price depending on where and when you bought it and the accompanying basket of privileges you are seeking pre, during and post flight. Using 5G, you can offer consumers a new proposition to pay for individualised experiences and subscription plans, especially when considered from the viewpoint of a retailer or event promoter where experience is an inseparable part of the purchasing or consumption act itself. 

Meaningful Marketing – Promotion

5G is new, dynamic and increasingly in vogue offering marketers a catalyst to inject new energy and vitality into their brands, through inspired application and creative execution. But to ensure sustained engagement, marketers must elevate the utilisation of 5G and allied technologies to move beyond simple gimmicks and cheap tricks, shifting application further than fad to becoming a fully-fledged channel for rich immersive experiential delivery. Promotions must above all else resonate with your target audiences. Today’s hyper-connected world makes it imperative to deliver an ad experience that does not ‘feel’ like advertising

We live in a hyper-connected world and while 5G won’t change everything completely, or instantly, it will unquestioningly amplify many of our digital experiences. Marketers and businesses alike must   align our strategies to this new reality, allowing ourselves to explore and apply more of the innovative technological opportunities in our campaigning – especially in the realm of AR, VR, AI, and smart devices. 5G opens a world of new opportunities for marketers and brands unafraid to scrap their old playbooks and buck the status quo to grow customer engagement and brand loyalty.

In concluding, here are just five simple ways 5G will likely revolutionise digital marketing:

  1. Mobile ecommerce will accelerate.
  2. Targeted customer personalisation and CX (customer experience) will get easier—and more accurate.
  3. Segmented video advertising will proliferate.
  4. Augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR) will enhance customer experiences.
  5. Advertising will be more interactive.

At the IMM we’re always connected, always current and always exploring.  Check out all our qualification and short course offerings, each one uniquely developed to keep your knowledge, skills and industry awareness at the leading edge of innovation, best practice and thought leadership.

Appendix: 01

https://www.singlegrain.com/digital-marketing/digital-marketing-trends-2021/

https://recommend.pro/personalisation-trends-2020-part-1/

Commercial Trends Appendix

https://www.roboticsbusinessreview.com/research/the-next-generation-supply-chain-market-75b-by-2030/

https://www.supplychaindigital.com/supply-chain-2/top-10-supply-chain-trends-2021

 

 

From cloud computing to cloud chains – the rise of SCAAS

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Ever since Salesforce arrived on the scene nearly 20 years ago, the holy grail of business start-ups has been to emulate the model it essentially created: software as a service (SaaS). There is good reason for this model being so coveted, not only by start-ups but also by captains of industry across sectors where there have been countless efforts to replicate it. The SaaS model allows for amazing margins at scale and predictable annuity revenue streams. For customers, it lowers upfront costs and often leads to better service and product improvements over time. The question being, can the benefits of SaaS be transferred to the world of supply chain management?

Before we explore the answer let’s take a closer look at SaaS.  Software as a service, SaaS, is today often used interchangeably with “cloud computing”, a business model in which customers pay to use software hosted on remote computers. According to Wikipedia, Software as a Service is “a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted and controlled.” SaaS may also be referred to as ‘On-Demand Software’.

Today, the most prevalent form of SaaS is customer relationship management software (CRM). Other core business functions across which SaaS has been popularised include office and messaging software, payroll processing software, CAD software, accounting software, content management software, and antivirus software. SaaS differs from traditional software platforms in that your data as a SaaS customer is transferred over a network (like the internet) to the SaaS provider. The application itself is not housed on your computer, but rather it is hosted elsewhere ‘in the cloud’.

SaaS in effect has its origins rooted in the 1960’s.  Back then, computers were large and expensive, few small or medium-sized businesses could afford to invest in them, giving rise to the software as a service industry. In the 1960s, the model we know today as “cloud computing” or “SaaS” was simply referred to as a “time sharing system”. A system that involved multiple so called “dumb” terminals (keyboards and monitors without CPUs) that were networked to a mainframe. All applications and data had to reside on the mainframe. In effect, it was an early form of “the internet”, a way of connecting computers together. However, at the time this innovative system made it possible for small and medium-sized businesses, educational organizations, and government entities to access computer systems in a cost-effective way. The transfer of risk and burden of costs, including development, maintenance and infrastructure to a third party is at the heart of the SaaS model, one which has stood the test of time and proved to be incredibly beneficial to suppliers and customers alike. As with any great business operating model other industries, functions and organisations have sought to replicate the concept and in the logistics and supply chain sector this has given rise to “SCaaS” or Supply Chain as a Service.

At its core, SCaaS is a flexible and agile supply chain model that enables organisations to manage their supply chains without the risk of upfront investment in facilities, infrastructure or technology. As you are no doubt aware, there are already many companies providing outsourced services for various aspects of your supply chain. You can outsource your manufacturing, distribution, procurement, accounts payable, transportation management, systems and more.  Meaning that essentially all your supply chain services from storage to transport logistics, picking and packing, delivery and inventory management, could be outsourced to an expert partner who handles all these supply chain logistics as a service.

The model the world is working toward will see SCaaS operating much like a ride-hailing service such as Uber. Ultimately, companies will be able to manage their supply chains via an App, or specific programme, and ‘call up’ particular supply chain services as and when they are needed. This enables far greater operating agility allowing for incredible flexibility, supply chain transparency as well as allowing companies to only pay for the services they use – think of it as A la Carte supply chain service or on demand logistics. Speaking of on demand and A la Carte services, if you’re interested in learning more about the current trends, theory and practices powering modern supply chain management, check out our full time Supply Chain management course offerings at https://imm.ac.za/academic-qualifications/qualification-supply-chain-export-management-qualifications/ or our Supply Chain management short course offerings at https://shortcourses.imm.ac.za/online_courses/supply-chain-export-management-short-courses/?gclid=undefined

From the service provider’s side, increasing demand for SCaaS means a more fluid approach. Costs can be saved by sharing loads and storage facilities between various customers, all contingent on need and capacity. At the end of the day, the operations will be determined by the expectations of the end-user. Businesses will demand that their SCaaS providers adapt to consumer demands, which is going to require a high degree of operating agility. Meaning SCaaS providers will have to work very closely with their customers to ensure that the end-user expectations are met or exceeded. In many ways, SCaaS will require logistics providers to become an integral part of their client’s operations, because close and harmonious working relationships will ultimately lead to the most efficient supply chains, and therefore the best customer service to the end-user.

Current fleet and supply chain companies will need to adapt quickly to keep pace with the burgeoning demand for SCaaS. Those of you who have been in the game for years should however already have implemented SCaaS models in various guises for many of your clients, either proactively or based on growing demand. If you haven’t ventured down this path, as with most things the best time to begin was yesterday, but today is better than tomorrow!

Supply Chain as a Service (SCaaS) culminates in better collaboration, improved quality control, and higher efficiency rates, shipping optimization, reductions in overhead costs, improved risk mitigation and superior cash flow. The advantage of moving to digital supply chain platforms would include: enhanced productivity, greater connectivity, lower cost, greater service, heightened flexibility and adaptability and better asset management.

In order to leverage all available technologies in the future companies will not have the expertise, resourcees, and funding to try to do this on their own. Only the largest companies may decide to retain these functions internally. Furthermore, failing to shift to a digital SCaaS model will result in a lack of competitiveness and financial viability.

Globally, companies are being forced, either due to financial, resources, timing or competitive reasons to outsource more of their Supply Chain activities – meaning the adoption of SCaaS is likely to increase exponentially over time. Consequently, there will likely be increasing opportunity for Supply Chain as a Service consulting firms and providers to become more integrated with their customer base in the provision of their offerings. If a client company needs to go to different outsourcing companies for every single aspect of their supply chain the management of numerous third-party organisations will become their biggest challenge. The age of integrated, full and A la Carte supply chain management is truly upon us – welcome to the age of the cloud chain.

Supply Chain Trends Image Resources