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Businesses expect significant revenue growth through 5G

Research reveals two-fifths of organisations are upgrading to cellular connectivity to take advantage of technologies such as IoT and AI, but they risk leaving networks exposed to cyber attacks

UK companies believe that ahead of robotics, smart cities and artificial intelligence, enhancing 5G connectivity is the cornerstone of maintaining the country’s position as a global tech leader and leading revenue generation. However, they feel they are being held back due to a lack of skills and poor investment from the UK government in the transformative technology, according to a study from Cradlepoint.

The State of connectivity in Europe study from the Ericsson-owned cloud-delivered LTE and 5G wireless network and security solutions provider, conducted by Censuswide, explored the views of technology decision-makers at companies with more than 250 employees, not only from UK but also from France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

It took the opinion of business owners, C-level executives and senior managers in a number of vertical sectors including building, arts and culture, education, finance, healthcare, HR, IT and telecoms, legal, manufacturing and utilities, retail, catering and leisure, travel and transport, government, first responders, public transportation, automotive, building management, supply chain and logistics, maritime, and agriculture.

Virtually all decision-makers (98%) across all countries expected revenue to grow if they improved their connectivity infrastructure, with over a fifth (22%) expecting it to increase by up to 29%. This equated to an expected average of 19% business revenue growth as a result of improved connectivity. Two-thirds of firms believed a portion of this revenue growth will come from increasing sustainability efforts.

Yet for this to be realised, a similar number (64%) said they needed smarter facilities to boost their operational sustainability. This was cited a key driver as to why two-fifths (42%) of organisations were prioritising upgrading their connectivity infrastructure with cellular connectivity, so they could take advantage of technologies such as the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to support their sustainability goals, alongside making their businesses more resilient and efficient.

Significantly, the study also used businesses to secure “a rapidly expanding attack surface” for European firms. Cradlepoint warned that the push to adopt new technology, such as IoT sensors, was seeing IT teams lose losing track of what was operating on their networks. In all, it said 77% of firms were both unsure of how many IoT devices are currently connected to their networks, and how many could be added in the future.

Cradlepoint also stressed that considering the fact that nearly half (45%) of businesses surveyed in the five countries experienced a network security attack in the past twelve months, of which 26% were as a result of a compromised IoT device, it was clear that organisations are all too frequently leaving a gaping hole in their network infrastructure for criminals to exploit.

Specifically in the UK, respondents pinpointed 5G communications as the technology most vital to the country maintaining its position as a leading tech powerhouse, named by nearly half (47%). This was ahead of other leading technologies, such as the metaverse (32%), robotics and automation (30%), 3D printing (29%) and even the rapidly expanding world of AI (8%).

Despite the increased uptake of private networks in the country, UK firms said they were being held back from deploying their own cellular networks, with 32% citing a lack of digital skills and 25% believing the complexity of change was a key hurdle for their organisation.

Likewise, 68% of firms believed that despite the government’s UK Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, overall investment in wireless connectivity was still too low, hindering further progress. In fact, 59% believed poor connectivity was preventing students from developing the skills they need to succeed in a modern world, and 62% believe it has a negative effect on public transport.

Despite the benefits of cellular networks becoming more understood, James Bristow, senior vice-president of EMEA at Cradlepoint, said it was clear from the research that there is still a lot of work do if businesses are to unlock their full potential.

“Our data shows security risks, concerns over complexity and a lack of skills remain key concerns for organisations keen to explore this technology more acutely,” he said. “By identifying cellular networks that are secure, quick and easy to install, organisations can safely deploy new technology, without increasing the risk to their infrastructure. Greater collaboration between industry leaders and tech partners could fuel even more economic growth and help our nation continue to compete on the global tech stage.”

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