This piece is brought to you by Jeff Kagan, Wireless Analyst, Columnist and Keynote Speaker.
The wireless industry has begun its next transformation wave called 5G. The difference this time is the change will reach far beyond wireless. It will impact every company in every industry in a variety of ways. That means it will impact your industry and in fact, your company. The only question is whether you will be a leader or a follower in this next change wave.
It’s not like you can sit out this next business wave. 5G will take no prisoners. Your choice is simple, lead, follow or get out of the way.
Every executive at every company has a choice. They can either lead or follow. Both leaders and followers will ride the growth wave up. Those who do not participate will not be competitive and will fail going forward. We have seen this, many times.
We have all seen countless examples of leaders and followers in recent years. Unfortunately, we have also seen many examples of past leaders who failed as the marketplace changed to the next level. You don’t want to be on the falling side of the growth wave.
Difference between leaders and followers on the growth wave
Leaders are the early adopters. They change their company and their industry. They carve new paths for the next wave of growth. Leaders also take the arrows.
Followers come next. They are not first. They follow the leaders once the new path has been carved out. This is a safer path, but they don’t steer the new direction.
Both leaders and followers play a key role in every changing industry. Those who do not lead or follow simply become irrelevant over time. Leaders and followers are on the growth side of the growth wave. Those who do not participate end up on the falling side of the growth wave.
Examples of leaders and followers as growth wave rises, crests and falls
As an example, think of the smartphone world. Motorola lead until the 1990’s. They didn’t upgrade from analog to digital handsets quickly enough and gave way to the next set of leaders, Nokia, Blackberry and Palm. A decade later Apple iPhone and Google Android entered the picture and transformed the smartphone space once again.
The smartphone market completely reinvented itself and grew. The app market exploded with growth, from a few hundred to over two million apps. The smartphone kept getting better. The networks kept getting faster from 1G to 2G to 3G to 4G and now getting ready for 5G.
Today, the leaders are Apple iPhone and Google Android, while Motorola, Nokia, Blackberry and Palm have fallen to the back of the line.
Either participate as a leader or follower, or get out of the way
This is how every change wave transforms the current industry. Each new growth wave unleashes the next transformation. Either you participate, or you get left behind as the wave moves forward.
Wireless networks also have this same threat and opportunity. If they lead the way to the next generation of services, they can continue to grow. If they don’t, they struggle.
That’s why AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless have led the way over the last couple decades. A few short years ago both T-Mobile and Sprint were struggling. T-Mobile in fact was a 2G player and didn’t see the coming change wave to 3G. Every other wireless carrier made the move leaving T-Mobile behind in the dust.
Thankfully, T-Mobile found a new CEO and made the right moves. They skipped the disastrous move to 3G and jumped right to 4G. That was the right move. They have been growing ever since.
5G is next transformation wave for wireless and every other industry
The next transformation to the world of 5G will not only impact every smartphone maker and wireless network, but it will also open up a new world of opportunity that will transform other industries and companies as well.
Think of the way Uber and Lyft reinvented the taxi and limousine industry with their smartphone app. This not only gave them a chance to start, but to transform an age-old industry.
They are not only growing, not only changing the industry, but they are putting incredible competitive pressure on the sleepy existing leaders of yesterday. Yesterday’s leaders must change, or they will eventually become irrelevant.
5G is both opportunity and risk for every company and every industry
This coming 5G growth wave is not just a wireless story. It is both an opportunity and risk for every company in every other industry as well.
So, what are your plans for change in the new world of 5G in your industry? Will you be a leader or a follower? Will you lead the way, take the arrows and transform your company and your industry or will you fall behind and let the change wave move ahead without you?
These are the questions every executive in every industry face today. These are the questions that need to be answered if you want to continue to grow.
5G will impact every one of us. That means business customers, consumers, workers, executives, investors, companies and more. It will impact every company in every industry. So, today one of the most important questions you need to answer is simple. What is your strategy going forward?