How 5G, combined with IoT, will make mobile carriers the enablers of retail engagement
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Akshay Sharma, a kiosk industry consultant, specialized in telecom kiosks at Beesion, and currently specializes in hospitality and video gaming kiosks at Grubbrr and GoodWorldGames. He is a former Gartner analyst and smartphone CTO.
by Akshay Sharma
As the IoT transformation permeates through the U.S. economy, mobile telecom carriers have the opportunity to reshape the hospitality and retail industries through 5G networking combined with mobile video, smartphone payments, tablet-based point-of-sale, cellular powered digital-signage and wireless broadband connectivity. According to Ericsson's research, 5G is expected to be a critical enabler of virtual reality and augmented reality technology.
Historically, retail, hospitality and restaurants were serviced by fixed telecommunications operators with little involvement from mobile carriers.
Times are changing. 5G smartphones, which promise to boost data speeds and jumpstart cloud access, will be on retail store shelves in 2019, according to a panelist during one of the keynote presentations at the CES in Las Vegas. 5G promises to make it easier for businesses to access cloud technology, and to enable faster development of both business and consumer services. These technologies will enable combo tablet/TV tables and video gaming devices.
Hotels and restaurants lead change
Wireless kiosks, tablets and robots are already offering a more personalized experience for both restaurant and hotel guests.
Hotels aiming at a superior experience can leapfrog to the cutting edge of entertainment and let guests experience virtual reality and augmented reality, improving on the established video and gaming options, while restaurants can provide fixed gaming tablets and food ordering tablets.
Robots and AI on the way
Newer modalities of services will occur in businesses via artificial intelligence powered robots carrying tablets on their chests to provide a wide range of services. Such devices will include AI interfaces to IBM Watson or other AI engines with recommendations based on past selections and what is on sale. These devices can also use facial recognition to identify customers and identify mood to recommend products and services.
AR and VR technologies will require localized CPU processing and caching of shared or repeated content like ads or background content to minimize latency. The legacy telecom operators may partner with mobile operators by reusing their central office locations, transforming legacy voice switching centers into nano data centers. These nano data centers or managed services providers in turn can offer VoIP/unified communications services like AI-powered chat, e-commerce, Wi-Fi and hosted services like security-as-a-service.
While telecom service providers are investing in content distribution networks, as evidenced by AT&T buying Time Warner, the next wave will be in AR/VR content combining interactive video gaming with video content, while leveraging newer 5G architectures, such as mobile computing. In the retail world, the mobile carrier will play a significant role by partnering with local data centers or the local fixed operator and offer VR and AR services.
The worlds of lean-forward video gaming with lean-backwards movie watching will likely converge, with both offered in an interactive movie on a kiosk, tablet or gaming console. Perhaps we will lean back in the restaurant and movie theater, but lean forward in the meeting room and retail shop.
New services coming
Newer managed service offerings will include:
- Cloud-based managed video and gaming and hosted services like CRM services and unified communications-as-a-service.
- Newer monetization techniques such as targeted ads, social networking, turbo buttons and video on demand.
As ad fatigue sets in, different monetization techniques will emerge beyond subscriptions and paid ads to revenue share approaches.
Mobile carriers will need to continue to expand their partnerships beyond their existing network vendor relationships to include technology solution providers within the AR/VR community.
Video, gaming, AI, robotic, AR/VR platform CIOs and CTOs looking to embrace newer digital transformation solutions should look holistically within the mobile infrastructure ecosystems and tag the mobile operator as a strategic partner.