5G’s Potential, and Why Businesses Should Start Preparing for It

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Omar Abbosh & Larry Downes / MARCH 05, 2019 / Harvard Business Review

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[RP: The following advice to businesses applies equally to people with careers in those businesses.]

Still, if incumbent businesses don’t pick up the pace in preparing for 5G, the resulting gaps will inevitably attract new entrants and start-ups, unleashing the kind of sudden disruptions that have unsettled mature industries including entertainment (iTunes and Netflix), transportation (Uber and Lyft), and manufacturing (3D printing), to name a few.

That’s why we recommend an aggressive but measured approach to planning for and investing in 5G today. It makes little sense for companies in affected industries (increasingly, all of them) to bet on one particular technology or application. But at the same time, the old approach of waiting for new 5G-powered markets to emerge and jumping in later as a so-called “fast follower” won’t work either.

That’s because even when disruptors are slow to gain traction, once they do, the race to profit is often over as soon as it starts. If you weren’t already warmed up and on the starting line, your chances of winning will be virtually zero.

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