Everything can be disrupted. Tiger Woods just disrupted The Masters. Telecommunications companies are being disrupted by 5G. But can 5G disrupt golf and other industries outside of telecommunications? The answer is most definitely yes. And what better time to dig into these possibilities than now- between the craziness of the Masters and the excitement building for Wells Fargo and the PGA Championship?

A tenfold increase in speed and a tenfold decrease in latency. A phone battery charge that will last a month. These are some of the ways that 5G will soon leapfrog 4G to be your favorite cellular access technology. For consumers, it’s going to take just seconds to download a movie. Streaming will be clearer. The expectation of real-time experiences with apps of all kinds will become standard.

For businesses, the faster speed and lower latency will also benefit employees, customers, and partners in every industry you can think of. The lower power consumption of 5G will allow IoT sensors to operate much longer without recharging. One game changer is likely to be wireless sensors that are small enough, light enough, easy to deploy, and cheap enough to be in huge demand.

These wireless 5G-connected sensors will be attached to everything – refrigerators, cars, clothes, cameras, and in places previously never possible. Service providers will have the ability to customize the network to the needs of those sensors and business imperatives while delivering security and reliability with strict service level agreements.

Seeds of Disruption

How will 5G and IoT disrupt an entire industry? Consider the new world of virtual driving ranges. These large facilities include driving ranges with multiple hitting bays. Sensor-enabled balls are hit at various targets — monsters, cards, targets, letters — as part of different driving range games. Other technology in the golf clubs and balls let you hone your swing speed and evaluate ball speed, apex height, spin rates, and distances. Lessons and clinics for players at all levels are also available.

These new virtual golfing companies, which include fancy restaurants and cocktail lounges, are using technology to enhance the customer experience in every way possible. They are using IoT, and will soon benefit from 5G, to make each visit customized, social, participatory, and integrated.

With data center, cloud services, and apps in the background, real-time game analysis is provided for each customer. Telemetry data and data about the network, the users, and their devices is gathered and folded into a common data model that allows analysts to extract new learning and provide new experiences. With Cisco branch and cloud architecture, these virtual golfing chains can easily bring new sites online and with minimal IT support.

Out-Innovating with 5G

5G will spur competition for innovation among players in the virtual golfing industry. Imagine sensors on everything you can see at each facility, from clubs and balls to silverware, waiters and waitresses, and customers. Other sensors can be connected to the lights, kitchen appliances, food supply, nearby weather station, floors, and cameras. These locations will become fully connected ecosystems of sensors and sensor data.

Now, take all that data from all those sensors and put it in a giant data pool. Then apply an artificial intelligence application front end that can mine the data to create patterns that can determine experience and operations optimization. How can that information be useful? To run a more efficient kitchen. To ensure the maximum utilization of hitting bays. To give advertisers opportunities to customize ads to individuals and groups. To offer immediate suggestions on what type of driver and what kind of ball the golfer should be using

Bartenders will know which drinks to make in advance and can offer new options to try. Social networks can participate in the golf experience. In the back office, managers can ensure tighter security with more visibility into what’s happening in each venue, make technology changes faster, roll out stores faster, and have better control of their supply chains.

Industry Implications of 5G

In addition to IoT applications and insights from data analytics, 5G will make augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications available and seamless to businesses of all kinds. Oil and gas exploration will be more automated and precise. Picture a drill operator who is trying to repair a drill on an ice shelf at 20 degrees below zero using collaboration over 5G satellite to share blueprints with a technician thousands of miles away.

Doctors will be able to train in virtual operating theaters. Factories will become more optimized to reduce costs, run times, and errors. Retailers will be able to target ads more precisely using time, location, customer, weather, and other data. And golfers will be able to tee up at the most exclusive courses in the world, virtually.Now think about your own industry and business.

Who are the new entrants? What companies are driving competition and how are they doing it? What could you be doing to disrupt or protect your company from disruption? Can 5G and all the things it will enable — IoT, AR/VR, data analytics, artificial intelligence — help accelerate your strategy?

Given how Tiger Woods at 43, with multiple back and knee surgeries behind him, just disrupted professional golfing with his $2 million win at the 2019 Masters and is now headed to the PGA Championship, your own business may also be ready for surprising new benefits with 5G!




John Hurley

Vice President, Telco and Mobile - Americas

Global Service Provider