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5G is the Y2K of the next decade

The press surrounding CES 2019 and Mobile World Congress 2019 5G announcements coupled with the bankruptcy proceedings of Sears/Kmart occurring recently has caused me to reflect upon how technology can be very good for companies that can use it — and debilitating for those that cannot. Fundamental technology advancements, like 5G, are not beneficial to all commercial entities and, in most cases, create a new wave of asymmetric warfare in the marketplace, pitting the agile against the unmovable that are slow to take advantage of the technologies. Although 5G is being positioned as a network technology that will enable an immediate increase in flow of business intelligence in organizations — which is certainly the case — the entrance of super-fast 5G networks will also be the Y2K of the coming decade, forcing the unready to re-engineer and re-architect their less agile systems. And if you visited MWC this year, 5G was not longer a future technology — it is now, with shipping products.

Most business entities are not ready to take full advantage of 5G networks and the reason is simple: We are evolving from a standalone, federated, hardware-defined computing world to a connected and consolidated software-defined world. The next step in this evolution is not 5G networks nor cloud computing nor new multi-core processors, which are simply storage, compute and transmission capabilities. The next steps in this evolution are data-defined and data-centric architectures that enable a competitive flow of data and derived intelligence at far faster speeds, coupled with real-time decision-making at the edge. Data-centricity is an architecture that enables the efficient flow of data, regardless of network speeds, between different software components, subsystems and systems — for example, between a sensor, radio, display, control panel and operations center. It enables system agility and can be tuned to adapt to the latest flow of data and information in real time, regardless of hardware platforms or networking speeds.

Why are companies not prepared for the next fight for business intelligence at 5G speed? Like the Y2K challenge from 20 years ago, where companies had to re-architect and test their systems to function in the next decade and century, 5G wireless network speed plus ubiquitous cloud computing plus heterogeneous multi-core compute platforms will disrupt the business and operations for the next decade. Existing systems were not designed for high rates of change, and were only modernized with new equipment, not a new data architecture, and therefore not designed to adapt and not designed to consume data flowing at 10x speeds overnight. Y2K was only a temporary data processing interruption — 5G agility and data-centricity is a business disruption that will last for years.

Simple upgrades to existing business platforms will instill a false sense of readiness. Adoption of the latest trend of technologies, such as software-defined networking and software-defined everything or the move to cloud computing, is inadequate. The promise of reduced Capex and Opex as the solution does not change the data architecture, the business resilience and the business posture, and will only be amusing blood stains in the bankruptcy forensics of companies that more agile, more prepared competitors feasted upon by capitalizing on the 5G speed of real-time business intelligence.

This disruption is not a one-and-done event that happens at midnight — this will be an irregular heartbeat of global businesses as competitors and adversaries gain a business intelligence edge with the rollout of each new data-centric platform that uncovers a new set of business efficiencies and insights. Every organization that wants to survive the next decade needs to have a platform architecture that immediately adapts, adopts and grows more powerful as technology enables real-time, sub-millisecond, highly competitive intelligence. Per MWC 2019, the time is now — actually yesterday — and waiting a year will only enable your competitors to drive faster over the pothole of delay in which you have hidden. A 10x increase in data availability by your competitors will drive their market intelligence and their competitive advantage over slower adopters, and time in the 5G era drives exponential competitiveness. Ask Sears or Kmart executives if they would agree.

A key to always being ready to take advantage of new technologies is having a data-centric architecture underpinning loosely-coupled, transmission-speed independent compute platforms that can be upgraded and tuned to optimize the speed of data as it is released and flows at a faster pace. To take advantage of the latest, yet unknown, set of competitive capabilities, these platforms must be based on global open standards that drive and feed a marketplace of new capabilities ready to serve your success. In high change-rate environments, standards drive rapid innovation; proprietary systems are potholes.

Smart organizations are already finding this combination of a data-centric network architecture platform based on an open standard, such as data distribution system (DDS), critical to being rescued from the technology abyss of the next decade, enabling them to immediately absorb higher data rates and business intelligence to remain competitive.

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