business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Take a second to think about your smart phone and how wonderful it is. Now think of this. We are actually only months away now from the advent of 5G technology and the potential impact on business and life is going to be staggering.

Here’s why I want you thinking about your smart phone. Think about how much better it is today than anything you had in the past and now consider this: 5G technology promises speeds 100 (yes one hundred) times faster than the 4G LTE you have today.

Thanks to the silliness of social media these days, I recently received a link to an article predicting all manner of apocalypse thanks to 5G. The article was silly except for this: it clearly outlined that 5G speeds mean an entirely new world.

The capacity of these coming systems mean information flow is going places beyond anything we experience today. It means that leaps in artificial intelligence and the power of the internet of things will rapidly move from science fiction to stuff we just use. I don’t think it’s the end of times, rather it is the start of new times.

At the National Grocers Association show last week, both Kevin and I had the chance to lead sessions about the challenges and opportunities of these new technologies. If I could try to simply sum up all we discussed it would be like this: change is coming really, really fast.

But that isn’t the entire story. In the sessions we (and others) ran, we talked about the limitations of technology as well. Your shoppers aren’t going to come to your store simply to experience the new tech unless that tech demonstrates a new level of experience. That is, unless if makes the shopping trip cooler, more compelling and more engaging than ever.

A part of that is the recognition that technology is not simply a tool to replace front-line labor. Rather, companies will need find a way to marry the benefits of people and technology in ways that enhance the shopper experience. That goes way beyond letting machines manage simple tasks so that staffers become salespeople. It extends into how data and artificial intelligence - all fueled by 5G speed - can allow a store to customize the shopping trip to each shoppers’ needs even as those need states change trip to trip.

For example, it might help stores recognize that a shopper is clearly making purchases geared to a party or celebration of some kind so that in-store salespeople (get used to that title) can suggest additional items be they flowers, wine, cakes and more.

The power of this new technology will also permit smart homes to communicate directly to smart stores permitting retailers to serve customer needs to a level once though impossible and soon entirely intuitive.

It should sound a little daunting, but it’s coming fast and today’s businesses need start preparing. That means laying the groundwork with robust use of social media connections to shoppers. Building apps that enable an easier shopping trip. And keep an eye on technology news of all kind so that this new world doesn’t sneak up on you.

Ignoring this tidal wave of change could truly mean the end of times, but only, I am afraid, for businesses that choose to ignore what is happening.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@mnb.grocerywebsite.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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