How 5G will Enable AI: An Interview with Tom Taulli
Written by: Nadia Milani
There is a lot happening in the world of 5G. It’s hard to make sense of it all, especially as it relates to enabling other technologies like IoT and AI. To dig deeper, we interviewed Tom Taulli technology author, speaker, advisor, and AI expert. Tom is a regular contributor to Forbes.com and author of the book, Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction. He also has a variety of companies, including; Hypermart.net, WebIPO and BizEquity.
How will 5G enable AI?
Tom Taulli: The fuel for AI is data. Usually it’s about huge amounts of data. For example, a deep learning model may process petabytes of information – across a large number of hidden layers — and detect interesting patterns and insights (note that a petabyte is the equivalent of 1 million gigabytes). This is what has made it possible to realize amazing strides in image recognition during the past decade.
However, when using AI in a mobile environment, there are challenges. Perhaps one of the biggest is that much of the data processing is done in the data center.
But with 5G, the data can be sent much faster – and at higher scale. There will also be more intensive processing on the edge. The bottom line: AI will become more real-time. And this will be essential for a myriad of use cases like voice assistants – which will eventually be able to carry on open-ended conversations – and autonomous vehicles.
What else will 5G enable?
Tom Taulli: The technology will be ubiquitous and AI will be just among the many interesting use cases. Although, I think we’ll first see more of the adoption and usage on the consumer side because of the enormous footprint of smartphones across the world. So there will emerge very cool applications that allow for immersive experiences, say by using AR or VR. Entertainment will become more personalized and interactive. No doubt, this will be a big opportunity for top gaming companies. Next, over time, we’ll see enterprises start to evolve their own systems with 5G and AI. Why the lag? It has to do with the inevitable issues of cultural inertia, legacy systems and regulatory burdens. Yet with the impact of COVID-19, we may see accelerated innovation in the enterprise with applications for remote work. I’m sure companies like Zoom and Microsoft are very excited about 5G.
Why is that important, 5G enabling new tech for consumers and businesses?
Tom Taulli: There are many technologies that are important. And 5G certainly deserves to be on the priority list. And I think executives realize this – although I also believe that there is much fuzzines on how to capitalize on the opportunities. A big issue is that 5G is still in the early innings. There will need to be lots of trial-and-error. To get a sense of things, a recent survey from Deloitte shows that 86% of the networking executives said that 5G will transform their organizations within the next three years.
Who will win the race?
Tom Taulli: There will not be one winner. Rather, there will be many winners. In the U.S. – carriers like AT&T and Verizon will benefit because their networks will see more usage – and there will be more opportunities to increase ARPU.
Then there are chip companies like Qualcomm that will do quite well. After all, Apple had little choice but to settle its lawsuit with Qualcomm because the 5G IP was so overwhelming. The fact is that the company has been investing heavily in 5G technologies – and this will provide nice opportunities for boosting the licensing revenues. Other winners will be the equipment providers like Ericsson and even Nokia. And finally, we will see startups emerge in the years ahead. There is no shortage of venture capital to support new ideas and innovations.
With many winners in the 5G race, what does this mean for businesses?
Tom Taulli: Well, as seems to be the case with any new technology, there will be many players, which will add to the complexity. Where do you want to place your bets? What platforms will be the best? Unfortunately, there are really no good answers. But then again, in such an environment, larger companies tend to do well. For a strategic area like 5G, there will be more of a focus on established vendors.
Which verticals will benefit from 5G enabled AI?
Tom Taulli: Over the long haul, probably just about every vertical will. But to focus on things, I would say one of the early beneficiaries will be on the industrial side. The low latency/high bandwidth advantages of 5G will probably be game changers for the supply chain, inventory management and preventative maintenance. These will likely mean measurable savings in costs and improved productivity.
Another area where I see much potential is with healthcare. It’s definitely massive and in need of innovation. So then, for example, 5G could allow for better robots for surgery that can be run remotely and be infused with AI capabilities.
How can businesses take advantage of AI enabled by 5G? Why does it matter for their customers?
For the typical company, there is probably not a need to have a 5G strategy. It’s too early for this. There would be too much guess work. Rather, the better approach would be to make sure there is a digital transformation strategy – and that there is buy-in for it across the organization. Things are moving so fast nowadays and innovations are popping up all the time. To be successful in today’s world, companies need to become more like a tech operator. Just look at Nike. When the company hired its new CEO, they selected someone who ran eBay and SeviceNow.
As for the digital transformation strategy, it’s about rethinking processes, markets and business models. It’s also about getting serious about implementing next generation technologies like microservices, AI and so on.
Thus, with a strong digital transformation strategy, a company will ultimately be a good position to take advantage of new opportunities like 5G. More than anything, you want to accelerate the move to a modern IT infrastructure.
Technology author, speaker, advisor, and AI expert
Tom (@ttaulli) is the author of Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction and The Robotic Process Automation Handbook: A Guide to Implementing RPA Systems. Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out his website for some of his other work here.
Marketing Director at TeraGo
Nadia Milani (@FreskiwMilani) is the Marketing Director at TeraGo. Her sweetspot is when marketing intersects with technology. In 2019, Nadia was added to Marketo’s Fearless 50 list, being recognized as one of 50 top marketers around the world leading and driving digital transformation within their organization and industry.