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5G: a revolutionary digital transformation for SMEs
5G: a revolutionary digital transformation for SMEs

How 5G will catapult SMEs

into digital transformation


  • 5G will enable small and medium-sized businesses to embark on a revolutionary digital transformation.
  • Faster connectivity means more connected objects (IoT) — more than 30 billion in 2025.
  • By 2040, it’s estimated the advent of 5G will add $150 billion to the Canadian economy.

The 5G revolution is just around the corner. Faster and more efficient than 4G, 5G will become a vital part of digital transformation for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Canada. The 5G network won’t just be an evolution, but a total revolution that will shake up our daily reality in relation to communication, work, travel, online purchases, and leisure.

5G will present SMEs with many clear opportunities.

How will 5G revolutionize digital transformation for SMEs?

The revolution has already begun! Increasingly, SMEs are looking to carry out their digital transformation and seize the opportunities offered by the faster and more efficient 5G network.

From information processing to an enriched customer experience, and from Internet of Things (IoT) adoption to mass artificial intelligence (AI) implementation, 5G will revolutionize the daily reality of SMEs and allow them to carry out their digital transformation.

Why do we refer to a 5G revolution?

5G goes beyond the limits of 4G by offering better connectivity, better latency, and greater bandwidth.

In fact, the 5G network is 100 times faster than 4G, and 25,000 times faster than 3G. It could even surpass 10 Gbps. These transmission speeds will allow for the creation of new applications offering more immersive, real-time experiences. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will become widespread.

By offering better connectivity, 5G will allow more connected objects to communicate with each other and will respond to increasing demand. The number of connected objects should surpass 30 billion in 2025 (Statista), and in some cities, multiple millions of connected objects will exist within a square kilometre.

With its high performance, 5G will allow the IoT and AI to be rolled out on a grand scale. The 5G revolution will affect all areas of industry. Agriculture, health, retail, manufacturing, leisure, public administration (connected cities), transport, and logistics are just some of the industries that will benefit from 5G capacity.

5G’s latency time of one millisecond versus 4G’s 50 milliseconds, means it will offer invaluable precision and reactivity for developing new applications like automated vehicles, remote surgical operations, and much more.

Another major advantage of 5G networks for SMEs is the flexibility they offer, thanks to “network slicing.” This consists of dividing a network into several slices in order to create several virtual networks, each with a defined speed and service quality. The network’s resources can then be used with greater efficiency, according to need.

1. The Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI)

5G will allow new technology to be rolled out which will shake up how SMEs work. 5G will offer infrastructure that will speed up the development of the IoT and AI. Among other things, the IoT will allow SMEs to measure the effectiveness of their manufacturing and automation processes in order to increase their productivity. In the same way, having access to more data from connected objects will allow SMEs to continuously learn about their customers’ habits, and therefore to respond and adapt quickly to their needs.

Of course, processing big data requires AI, which will become more widespread with the advent of 5G. “Without 5G, the most important advances in AI cannot be rolled out on a large scale,ˮ according to Professor Ke Wu, Department of Electrical Engineering, Polytechnique Montréal in an interview with La Presse.

2. A mobile revolution

5G will bring about radical change in the mobile telephone network. In the last few years, we have seen an explosion of Internet communication through mobile phones. What’s more, ever greater Internet content consumption and the rise of working from home mean that fast, reliable connectivity is increasingly necessary, both via PC and on mobile phones.

VR and AR will boom thanks to 5G rollout. They will allow us to create innovative and more immersive client experiences.

Big retail companies understand the interest of providing such experiences for their clients to increase sales conversions. For example, “try-before-you-buy” experiences using AR are commonly used by companies such as Ikea, Louis Vuitton, and L’Oréal.

What are the benefits of 5G for SMEs (in Quebec)?

1. A better client experience? 5G will make it possible.

According to a McKinsey study, 93 percent of retail directors consider personalized marketing to be a priority. The 5G network will offer a personalized, immersive user experience, as well as maximizing multi-channel sales strategies. VR, AR, connected objects, and robotics will all be deployed as a result of 5G. This will allow businesses to increase contact points with clients, better understand their habits, and offer them a more personalized experience in line with current trends. 5G will revolutionize retail commerce. Solutions such as smart shelves, dynamic pricing, cashier less stores. The Montréal-based start-up Leav offers cashier-free solutions for stores thanks to a combination of IoT, RFID, and AI. And thanks to 5G, the company will be able to gather more data about customers in real time and improve the store experience for them.

2. Industry 4.0 and logistics

Industry will gain from the arrival of 5G. By facilitating the mass implementation of the IoT in factories, as well as better connectivity, factories will be able to obtain precise, real-time data on all their production processes, and automate and control them remotely. Additionally, with the advent of autonomous vehicles, 5G will impact the industry’s logistical chain from start to finish.

Nokia and Ericsson have been testing 5G technology in the Italian port of Livorno to optimize operations (gantries and cranes) and obtain a 25 per cent gain in productivity and 8.2 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions (source). In Quebec, initiatives such as ENCQOR 5G have created an important 5G ecosystem to accelerate 5G adoption among SMEs in Quebec. Thanks to an impressive collaboration between ENCQOR 5G, ADRIQ, Prompt, and Mitacs, SMEs can access a 5G testbed, funding, and university researchers to take advantage of the 5G revolution.

In the next few years, 5G promises a positive widespread effect on the Canadian economy. In fact, in a GSMA study, it was estimated that 5G will generate $150 billion for the national economy by 2040.

5G will also accelerate the deployment of AI and the IoT, which will bring about numerous changes for SMEs. 5G will allow businesses to process data almost instantly, to communicate, to offer a personalized experience, and to automate production. Over the course of the next few years, we will witness an unprecedented digital transformation in businesses: 5G will revolutionize our communities and our way of life.

Quentin Hibon

Quentin Hibon

Business Development Director at Mitacs
Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces

Quentin Hibon is a Business Development Director at Mitacs with a focus on digital transformation and 5G adoption projects. He leads multiple projects to facilitate collaboration between small and medium businesses and universities and other organizations to accelerate the implementation of 5G in Quebec. Quentin is passionate about innovation, focusing on developing strategic partnerships with an emphasis on 5G, IoT, and emerging technologies. Deeply involved in the business community, Quentin Hibon is also VP at MTL+Ecommerce, the #1 Hub for ecommerce, startup & tech.

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