The time is now for telecommunications, media and entertainment (TME) companies to start preparing for new 5G-enabled business opportunities and competitive threats that will arrive with the new, speedier wireless technology.

For TME marketers, preparedness and changing the way you think about your products and services – along with how to effectively market, deliver and support them — are prerequisites to leveraging 5G to build competitive advantage, improve customer experience (CX) and fend off new challengers. Though it may make marketing departments feel a bit uneasy, 5G readiness also means conducting a thorough talent evaluation to ensure you have the right people with the proper skill sets in place to lead your efforts.

Many believe 5G will usher in the post-smartphone era, with even smarter phones, devices, cars and cities taking center stage and becoming the new normal for B2B and B2C applications powered by video, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, and all things IoT. A GSMA Intelligence U.S. market forecast predicts the country will reach 100 million 5G connections in early 2023, and that by 2025 5G will become the leading mobile network technology in the U.S. with more than 190 million mobile connections.

With 5G and the technical and regulatory aspects of the millimeter wave gaining momentum and falling into place, marketing leaders should feel a sense of urgency to begin planning how best to fuel their marketing engines, technologies and best practices ahead of commercialization and mass consumer adoption.

Such preparedness gives marketers a competitive edge and incredible opportunity to deliver a better, more tailored and individualized one-to-one brand experience for customers. It is also essential marketing leaders keep in mind that the emergence of 5G could also pose a daunting data management challenge, as billions more pieces of consumer and other data that can be used to predict behaviors flood company servers.

Competitive threats

With 5G, service providers and non-traditional players in the TME space will be able to compete with larger telecom, cable, and satellite providers – not to mention those that produce and stream entertainment content – to acquire and retain customers.

Against this looming and highly competitive backdrop, differentiation in CX and sophisticated, well-executed data analytics and marketing technology strategies and programs will be key to defending and growing your customer and revenue base.

Mobile companies stand to disrupt the cable business even further as 5G has been touted as being the technology that enables consumers to cut all cords, not just cable cords. AT&T and Verizon have been buying up content providers. At the same time, Apple and Amazon are investing heavily in content, partially to hedge against a transformed broadband landscape resulting from 5G deployment. So it should come as no surprise that content and exceptional CX will drive consumer behavior, loyalty and spend.

Marketing and data privacy

It will take time for 5G to be widely deployed in cities, suburbs and rural communities across America. In the meantime, marketers will continue to face other pressing challenges. For instance, in May of this year, the European Union (EU) introduced new data protection rules that marketers must address and carefully consider – even if they don’t sell products and services to consumers in that region.

It is a near certainty that the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will have some impact in the U.S., where privacy missteps, like that of Facebook, along with other consumer privacy violations, have become commonplace calling into question companies’ data privacy policies and procedures.

The EU data protection rules present an opportunity for TME brands to put into place measures for collecting, managing and using customer data effectively and securely. The GDPR should also serve as a precursor to 5G for marketers to purge outdated customer data, including any sensitive information that is being held without reason.

Speeding ahead with 5G

The reality is that once 5G arrives, marketers will find themselves in a dramatically different and more competitive world, where new business models and ways of connecting with customers on a more personal level will emerge and rule the day. In the meantime, it’s imperative that telecommunications, media and entertainment organizations prepare to compete in new ways with a laser-focused vision and plan for new products, services and marketing programs that will drive sales and improve consumer engagement.

As marketers grapple with how to leverage 5G to convey personalized messages that improve both the customer’s experiences with your brand and your bottom line, it may be worth sharing a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Are you prepared?


Tracy Currie is founder and CEO of Capto, a management and marketing consulting firm, and has more than 25 years’ experience helping TME and other brands address complex business and marketing technology challenges.

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