The establishment of a ubiquitous wireless network has been compared to the fourth industrial revolution, with an impact comparable to that of the printing press and the internet itself. TechRepublic, reporting on the Mobile World Congress America keynote given by Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and group president of Verizon Wireless, writes: “By 2035, 5G will enable more than $12 trillion in global economic revenue, and support 22 million jobs worldwide, he added, driven by the digitalization of industries such as transportation, agriculture, and manufacturing. It will also transform how cities work, how healthcare gets delivered, and how children are educated.”
Promising test markets have shown that 5G has the capability to marry data collection and computation with billions of devices, becoming an important foundation of global communications. As Dunne also said, “5G will become the underlying fabric of an entire ecosystem of fully connected intelligent sensors and devices, capable of overhauling economic and business policies, and further blurring geographical and cultural borders.” Apparently, 5G is changing the world as we know it.
There are three key benefits of 5G. First, 5G will allow telecommunications providers to extend their mobile rollouts to more people worldwide, bringing a global mobile broadband experience to regions where it does not exist today. Second, 5G will enable the Internet of Things (IoT) to be deployed at a “truly massive scale” (according to Dunne) enabling the “industrial internet,” revolutionizing distribution and supply chains. Third, 5G will facilitate industries and activities that need continuous data analysis and response, such as driverless cars, remote surgery, traffic control, and other applications.
The 5G network will bring massive change to many industries. But what does it mean for marketing research? Again, there are three key changes we should be preparing – and planning for:
- Mobile First – Always. As we have discussed previously in this blog, marketing researchers must think mobile first. Survey design must start with mobile devices and on-the-go respondents. Even consumers at home or work will be accessing surveys through mobile devices, so start there. That means short, simple, and with minimal scrolling. Bye-bye grid questions. The good news is, if you can maximize the respondent experience on the small screen, it should be easy to adapt that experience to other modalities.
- Virtual and Augmented Reality are with the reach and processing speeds of a 5G network, virtual reality and augmented reality will become widely applied far beyond gaming. Marketing researchers will test concepts and products in virtual and augmented worlds. Because those technologies break down the geographic barriers and remove some of the costs associated with new product development, we should find ways to make testing much more feasible and acceptable, hopefully increasing new product introduction success rates.
- Video is Easy. 5G capabilities will enhance everyone’s ability to create and communicate video content. As marketing research uses video more seamlessly and comprehensively in both data collection and reporting, this will impact methodologies, research design, and reporting and communications.
So, what do we do?
As mentioned above, 5G networks are currently in the planning and testing stages in selected markets around the world. For marketing researchers, the need now is to be aware of the possibilities additional processing speed and additional markets will bring. We should also prepare for the 5G roll-out by changing the way we complete research now – as well as honing the new skill sets we will need to participate in the 5G world.