Capturing Value from Next-Generation Wireless

September 14, 2022

Contributor: Lori Perri

Realizing value from wireless technologies now involves extending digital services to include a wide variety of new contexts and customers.

Gartner uses the term “wireless value realization” to describe the range of ways in which next-generation wireless technologies will soon deliver new and improved services and reduce capital costs.

With disparate wireless technologies (and often whole solutions) working together on a single infrastructure, the benefits will include:

  • A wide range of new contexts, such as location, energy harvesting/battery free operations and sensing

  • Improved developer experience and productivity through self-service capabilities with automated infrastructure operations

  • Unified network connectivity and security, providing a migration path for operational technology (OT), information technology (IT) and line of business (LoB) operations  

  • A more cost-efficient, reliable and scalable technical foundation that reduces capital expenditure

“Eighteen billion edge/IoT devices are already looking to connect to enterprise infrastructure; wireless value realization is about capturing that opportunity and extending it to new services and innovation,” says Tim Zimmerman, Gartner VP Analyst. 

Gartner expects that by 2025, 50% of enterprise wireless endpoints will use networking services that deliver additional capabilities beyond communication, which will be up from less than 15%.

“For example,” says Zimmerman, “as wireless will not only be a multitechnology medium, it can also be used to sense the environment, provide power where it did not exist and find assets as well as locate people in distress. Wireless can monitor workers to provide a safer environment or optimize the movement of critical assets.”

The future of wireless

Wireless value realization is an emerging trend that expands the use cases that leverage the ongoing advancements in wireless capabilities — in areas from bandwidth and range to power consumption.

Wireless technology is evolving in two key directions. First, the basic communication capabilities of wireless continue to improve, which means that they can enable a much wider range of tasks than in the past. Second, wireless is moving beyond simple connectivity to add capabilities that serve as a foundation for digital innovation in such areas as: 

  • Location tracking. Most mainstream wireless technologies have the ability to sense the location of connected endpoints.

  • Radar sensing. Many wireless networking systems can be deployed with services similar to radar, where location is determined with an endpoint that is communicating to the network.

  • Value added services. Technologies, including Wi-Fi and cellular, are gaining a range of value-added services such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, broadcast, multicast and media-specific features, enabling new wireless use cases.

  • Ubiquity is improving. Especially when driven by cellular rollouts and the emerging constellations of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites bringing internet and IoT connectivity to unconnected regions.

  • Ultra-low-power wireless systems. Using wireless energy harvesting means that battery-free operation is now possible using protocols such as Bluetooth and NFC. This will enable new types of tagging and tracking.

These areas of innovation mean that wireless is moving from a communications technology to become a broader digital innovation platform. Technology executives must plan for a future of greater wireless usage, protocols and capabilities utilized to support digital business.

The future of wireless value realization

Wireless is the gateway for new services and innovation. Organizations will need to embrace the differing contexts as well as utilize multiple wireless technologies to deliver connectivity, reliability and services. The roadmaps for key wireless technologies such as 5G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, among others, include new features in sensing, location tracking and even energy harvesting. 

The capabilities of next-generation wireless will extend business disruption opportunities and provide new digital services beyond connectivity to include sensing, application services, power supply and integrated processing to a wide range of new contexts and customers. The integration of multiple wireless technologies will provide a more cost-efficient, reliable and scalable technical foundation that reduces capital expenditure.

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In short:

  • Wireless value realization is driven by applications and organizational transformation as responsibilities for enterprise networks shift. 

  • This trend accelerates digital transformation by incorporating technologies and capabilities that provide the necessary data for critical business outcomes.

  • The benefits to users include risk reduction, cost optimization, connectivity compliance and enhanced developer and customer value propositions.

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