2020 Service Provider’s Guide to Navigating 5G Business (a more simplified approach)

Diana Adams
6 min readJan 9, 2020

Emerging technologies have a way of making me feel like a child again. There’s always something new to learn. I remember writing about the service provider’s approach to 5G business back in 2015. Back then, all we could think about was the increased speed and reduced latency. It makes me giggle when I think about it. We couldn’t have known then what we know now, which makes me think the best is yet to come. (say that three times fast)

Now that 5G has launched, we are all maturing along with it. A whole new level of enhanced services, reliability, connectivity and security is opening up. This article is a more simplified approach to help service providers navigate the uncharted path to 5G business opportunities.


No matter what I read or write on this topic, the common denominator is always complexity. The reason for that is because in order for service providers to understand and capitalize on their 5G business, they have to understand where enterprises are on their digitalization journeys.

The catch is, each enterprise has their own unique journey through the digitalization process. Not only that, each enterprise is in a different stage of that unique journey — and in comes the convoluted complexity of it all.

I’d like to introduce you to Ericsson’s newest report: Serving the 5G Powered Business. The reason I like this specific report so much is because it presents a more simplified approach to this arduous topic.

To keep things straightforward, Ericsson broke down the enterprise digitalization journey into five types, based on similarities. Each one of these five types has a different place in the value chain, which means a different focus, objective and outcome. You can download the report to get more information about each one.


Since each 5G business customer will be at a different digitalization maturity level, it goes without saying that each one will also have a different level of dependence on 5G.

Obviously a lights-out manufacturing facility that doesn’t require any humans on-site (100% automation) will have different 5G dependancies than an enterprise customer who only uses 5G for digitalizing administrative tasks.


What is the service provider’s role in the enterprise digitalization process? How can you help your customers while capitalizing on 5G business opportunities?

Here are a few tips and takeaways from the report that will help you rise above your competition and position yourself as a leader in the industry.

  • Lead confidently with your 5G services/solutions first. Enterprises need to trust and know that you’re on board and have their best interests in mind.
  • Be clear about what role you play in the digitalization process. Don’t focus on everything. Choose your key services (the ones you do best) and build partnerships for the rest.
  • Instead of focusing on volume, focus on value. This is one of the most brilliant concepts in this new Ericsson report. Focusing on volume assumes all customers are the same. By focusing on providing value, you acknowledge that each customer is unique, with unique goals and challenges.
  • In order to successfully make the switch to focusing on value (instead of volume), you must get in the trenches with your customers. It requires an intimate understanding of their 5G business goals. It requires understanding how they do business, and where they see themselves in the future. The service providers who take the time to get to know enterprises on this level will succeed.

Still not sure which direction to go to maximize your 5G business? You aren’t alone.

The good news is, the entire business landscape is in a state of transition now. You aren’t the only one who’s wondering how to get a strong foothold in our new 5G business world. According to the Serving the 5G Powered Business Report:

There are several paths that service providers could take in the digitalization landscape. Within Ericsson’s three existing service provider roles, they have identified six paths, each contributing a specific value to enterprise digitalization.


I dug into each of these six paths thoroughly, and each one is powerful in its own way. They are all clearly defined, and include the key capabilities, revenue streams and barriers to entry (low, medium, high). Ericsson has done all the work. Download the report for the full insight.

Next, I want to highlight 3 simple takeaways.

In my opinion, these should stay top-of-mind when making decisions.

  • Your enterprise customers don’t want to pay more than they’re already paying for your services. (this is a general rule of thumb — there are some exceptions)
  • No matter how impressive a 5G service or solution is, if your customer isn’t willing to pay for it, you should rethink it. (why would you invest in it if your customers won’t?)
  • The importance of automation can’t be overstated. As one business developer said, “Automation is going to skyrocket.” We are already seeing this.

When I talk about 5G to people who are outside IT, they usually think it’s just another G, only a faster one. Sometimes I even get an eye roll.

As an Apple ACN and co-owner of an outsource IT company in Atlanta, I can definitely appreciate all the references to IT in this report. I agree with Ericsson’s suggestion. We all need to work to spread more extensive awareness about what 5G really is, and its capabilities.


I know from reading my tweets that the hype surrounding 5G (and AI) spreads like wildfire. By helping enterprises understand that 5G is an entire platform with many different digitalization capabilities, service providers can reposition 5G as an overall solution to many of the problems enterprises are grappling with now.

In the opening of this article, I said that emerging technologies make me feel like a child again.

As children, our future is unknown, and every day brings new learnings. In that analogy, who are the parents? Who is taking the service provider’s hand and walking them into the future of 5G business?

In this particular analogy, I would have to say it’s Ericsson. They are taking the leadership role to guide service providers down the dimly lit path so they can get ahead of their competition. They do this while keeping them informed about potential obstacles in the distance. Thank you for that.

If you’d like to continue the conversation, please drop a comment below or tweet me at @adamsconsulting. As always, thank you for reading my article.

[A few months ago, I wrote The Mobile Service Provider’s Guide to 5G Business Opportunities. Today’s article is a follow-up with a new report and information. To take an even deeper dive, I suggest you read the previous article also, which is linked above. Disclaimer: This article was sponsored by Ericsson.]



Diana Adams

Tech journalist, Apple ACN, Digital Transformation, IoT, 5G, AI and the future of tech.