Charting the Lands of 5G in the 4th Industrial Revolution – with Joshua Ness

 
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Since the beginning of time, technology is the key that unlocked progress, helping people evolve ideas, build more, and make our lives easier. Today, we stand at the beginning of a new era of transformation, driven by the rapid acceleration of technology innovation across startups and corporations of all verticals.

One technological advancement in particular, the testing and development of a global 5G network, holds the keys to even more rapid advancement and a technology-driven world that only previously existed in the minds of science fiction authors.

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To learn more about this transformative technological shift and chart the technology road ahead, we sat down with Joshua Ness – Senior Manager at Verizon 5G Labs, Co-Director of Startup Grind NYC, and general thought leader in the NYC technology space – for this #ThoughtImports interview.


NYC Technology Driving Efficiency & Value Through the Years

I moved to New York from Texas with no job, no friends, and no place to live. I was crashing on the couch of someone I met on Twitter and I had three days to figure out my next move. At this time in 2012, I had to learn what technologies like Uber, Airbnb, and Meetup were, since they were new technologies that didn’t exist in Texas yet and were exclusive to places like New York and San Francisco. After working my way through the NYC tech ecosystem – co-founding a venture, working with Microsoft, and building the technology community through Startup Grind NYC – I joined Verizon’s Open Innovation group in 2016. Today, I lead concept development for Verizon 5G Labs, which is responsible for developing the ecosystem of technologists and technologies that will live on 5G over the next decade.

One thing is evident about the NYC tech ecosystem and types of ideas and products it builds: NYC technology has consistently delivered on driving value that makes sense for consumers, that makes sense for people.

Through my experiences, one thing is evident about the NYC tech ecosystem and types of ideas and products it builds: NYC technology has consistently delivered on driving value that makes sense for consumers, that makes sense for people. Unlike Silicon Valley with its questions like “Can we do this crazy thing that no one has ever thought about and will probably not work?”… in New York City, we don’t have time for that. We need to develop solutions that solve problems, and we need them now. And we need them with as few clicks as possible. It’s never been a better time to be UX engineer in NYC than it is right now. Because the people in NY – the companies, businesses, consumers, individuals – we need our problems solved in as few swipes, clicks, and looks as possible. And the problems are always changing.

New York City entrepreneurs are in that great nexus of driving efficiency and value, and using technology to do it.

As 5G begins to impact these industries and drive a revolution in these ecosystems, it's going to take smart people who are not married to processes to think about new advancements in these technologies and their application that can drive value. New York City entrepreneurs are in that great nexus of driving efficiency and value, and using technology to do it. You find that central overlap area in a Venn diagram, and that’s New York City tech.

It's going to take smart people who are not married to processes to think about new advancements in these technologies and their application that can drive value.

The Evolution of 5G and the Arrival of the 4th Industrial Revolution

The iPhone came in 2007, with no developer community. They opened up their app store in 2008 but the bandwidth wasn’t there to support many applications. In fact, it was only 3G back then, and the developers were actually relegated to the 2G network so the non-smartphone users could have a decent telecom experience since the iPhone kept crashing the network. When 4G was released in 2010, the mobile carriers had no idea it would bring about this new generation of technology and way of life to the extent that it did. The 4G network has brought about the creation of entire companies, industries, and economies; things like the Uber, Airbnb, Upwork and the gig economy are all things that wouldn’t have been possible without 4G connectivity.

And now that 5G is here, it represents a fundamental shift that will usher in the 4th Industrial Revolution; the revolution of the connected everything — from the internet of things to real-time data to inform more accurate real-time decision making. This era will refine innovations like autonomous driving, telemedicine, interactive drone control, immersive media; and it will allow people to consume everything on devices that haven’t even been imagined yet. And every industry will be impacted; it’s just a matter of time.

Now that 5G is here, it represents a fundamental shift that will usher in the 4th Industrial Revolution; the revolution of the connected everything — from the internet of things to real-time data to inform more accurate real-time decision making.

The Fundamental Shift in How We Consume Information

The way we consume information is also about to fundamentally change — from swiping on a screen to taking in information directly into your ear and eyes to things like AR-powered glasses and contacts, to the city around you that’s connected to the network, taking in information, and then translating that to your body in real-time (e.g., so you don’t get hit by cars, and a whole variety of other use cases). 5G will enable all of this real-time transfer of large amounts of data back and forth, so the way we live and consume info is about to fundamentally change. And my job is to find out how. In working with startups, SMBs, and enterprises, we are better able to figure out how 5G can impact those technologies and use cases so that we can start to: A) innovate on what’s already here, and B) recognize innovations that are coming down the pike that we can’t even predict.

This new way of consuming information and delivering value is coming. Everyone knows it and no one knows what it will bring…

This new way of consuming information and delivering value is coming. Everyone knows it and no one knows what it will bring; people are wary, but it is coming and as long as you’re flexible and you have an understanding of how your audience’s priorities are changing and how the problem statement continues to change and how that drive continues to change your value proposition, then you can start to recognize that delta in how you deliver that value. My advice: remain flexible to continue delivering new value for customers who will continue to pay for it.

My advice: Remain flexible to continue delivering new value for customers who will continue to pay for it.

The Secret to Success: Don’t Be Married to the Process

Don’t be married to the process. Being married to an idea is fine, but being married to a process is a killer. Right now technology moves so quickly that if you’re married to a process, your process is going to change and you’ll be left in the dust. If you look at companies like Blockbuster, Kodak, Blackberry, they were married to specific processes — how value is derived, delivered, and consumed — and they got left behind. There simply wasn’t room for them in the future landscape.

… Being married to a process is a killer. Right now technology moves so quickly that if you’re married to a process, your process is going to change and you’ll be left in the dust.

Instead, be aware of not just how the solution evolves, but how the problem evolves. Stay plugged into your customer base and remain flexible and malleable. This way, as technology is thrown at you — the way that 5G is, and things like AR and computer vision will be – you’ll understand how not just one particular technology can influence your idea, but how they can be stitched together to create value for your customers and your audience. This is the secret to success in this new industrial revolution and the new economy it is creating.

Be aware of not just how the solution evolves, but how the problem evolves.

The 3 Fundamental Truths of Innovation

1. Welcome the unknown. These technologies will influence and impact everything from a macro-vertical level to the things you interact with on a day-to-day basis – from hospitality to internet shopping to online dating. Eventually, how we consume technology like VR and computer vision will be democratized because price will go down and usage will go way up. To thrive in this new era, it is important to recognize how these technologies can stitch together to create impact on the macro level. Accept the unknown, and accept solutions where you didn’t think they existed before. There might end up being problems that need solutions that you didn’t even know were there.

Accept the unknown, and accept solutions where you didn’t think they existed before.

2. Think differently and passionately. The most inspiring people are those who show their passion for an idea, the ones who have thoroughly thought about how they can deliver value with the resources they have available. It’s the person who’s passionate about improving things – whether it is lives or efficiencies or access to technologies – the people who are thinking differently, have opinions, and are being vocal about them are the ones who will rise above the rest. A lot of people think they need to be all things to all people, when the truth is it’s more important to stand up, put your stake in the ground and say, ‘this is where I think things are going.’

3. Nothing is solved. Nothing is solved, nothing is done, nothing has been beaten to death. If something has been beaten to death, that means it is waiting and starving for an evolution. There’s always space and always room for evolution, as long as you’re not thinking that everything is solved. If you are in the mindset to think about the next evolution of food delivery, transportation, meeting people online … there will always be space for you in any vertical. Technology is moving so fast that apps like Tinder and Uber will be obsolete in just a number of years. Nothing is figured out, nothing is established. Everything is changing. Everything is up for grabs, as long as you’re thinking about how the problem is evolving and how your solution will evolve with it.

Nothing is solved, nothing is done, nothing has been beaten to death. If something has been beaten to death, that means it is waiting and starving for an evolution.


Chart the New Lands of Your Industry

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