In a special guest article, O2 business director Ben Dowd explains the opportunities 4G brings and how it can dramatically change our lives
4G is the next logical step in the evolutionary world that is mobile technology.
It has businesses asking questions about the possibilities of 4G’s speed, and if this can really change how they work.
Looking back over this evolution, the first iteration of a new generation of connectivity came in the form of 2G, allowing us to call and message each other wirelessly. This dramatically changed the way we communicated.
However, at this stage sharing media required setting up Bluetooth, finding the other person’s device, and then singularly choosing what you wanted to send with painstaking waiting times.
Then 3G came along and once again revolutionised the mobile industry. It allowed us to get the internet on a device on the go, enabling employees to disregard the conventional fixed workspace and gave businesses more flexibility and connectivity.
However, we are living in a world where speed can always be faster and reach can always be further, so it was only a matter of time until the need for 4G arose.
Why do I need 4G?
While it is well documented that the speed of 4G is its differentiator, the question businesses have been asking us is, “What can 4G do for me?” Indeed, it provides up to five times faster communication speeds, but understanding the potential behind the 4G revolution as a result of these speeds is the real key to unlocking its benefits.
And one of the most amazing aspects of 4G is that it won’t just benefit larger enterprises, but small businesses from start-ups to one-man bands which rely on the internet will also be able to take advantage of 4G’s speed.
4G has the potential to guarantee limitless ways of working. There will be no more dashing to the office to log on to the Wi-Fi, just to download large documents to another device before a meeting; or returning to the office after meeting with a client, to simply add notes to a current presentation. Employees are able to edit directly on a device in the meeting room, and can therefore instantly send the updated version within minutes.
A contractor can make a video call to a structural engineer on a 4G-enabled tablet in a crisis situation and do a walk around of the building. This allows the structural engineer to make site assessments without leaving their desk, in turn enabling them to assist with more queries in a day’s work. Reports can be submitted instantly and wirelessly, and digital photo and video capture will simplify processes and reduce paperwork.
Healthcare is also no exception. Nurses out on their daily rounds are able to access up to date patient information in a heartbeat, even in homes which have no internet connection whatsoever. They would be able to update their records in an instant, meaning faster treatment for more patients. If there is a problem, they can then video conference in a specialist in order to assess a situation; thus allowing the specialist to assist with more cases per day as it will permit better remote management and monitoring, with a more accurate diagnosis.
Emergency services will also be able to find real value in using 4G. The police are enabled to use wireless video cameras on their person to record any problems and occurrences at huge events. 4G means seamless video streaming to a control room where police can have a better overview of the event, without any disruption in connectivity at crucial moments. GPS tracking allows them to oversee the event with real time tactical monitoring, allowing officers to arrive at a location faster, meaning better even mobility and preventative deployment.
Return on investment
Even small businesses can save on costs by using 4G. They will be able to purchase 4G dongles for their small team of employees, instead of using an expensive broadband service that eats in to their monthly allowance. The reality of the potential for retail businesses will be difficult to ignore, as the online shopping via mobile devices industry will experience a significant increase as customers have faster and more reliable internet speeds from which they can get their shopping satisfaction. An increase of £300 worth of sales per month would match their 4G solution investment, thus increasing profits by £60 a month. Multiply these figures for huge retail companies and the outcome and benefits as a result could be huge.
Technology will continue to change the world. Businesses are all connected because of the impact on productivity and flexibility the internet has had on our daily working lives. Take these same possibilities wirelessly, and the potential is impossible to ignore. With the technology coming in to place imminently, the responsibility now lies with businesses to ensure they are 4G ready and able to immediately capitalise on the opportunities it is already providing. The ultimate outcome is flexibility.
It is important that businesses really capitalise on this development, and don’t ignore the benefits and new capabilities that could make their organisation’s and, in turn, their customers’ lives easier. In a broader sense, and via the possibilities given, companies will see the productivity of their staff improve. This will then enable the business to progress at a faster rate as there will be an increase in products and services being offered and created as a result. Progressing ahead of their competitors will be the ultimate gain in having a 4G-enabled business, and the 4G world will be a better and more productive place as a result.