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Isaac Sacolick on 5G Networks, IoT and the Future of Mobility

Interview with Isaac Sacolick, President, StarCIO

In the “5G: Securing What Matters” blog post series, we showcase thought leaders and their unique perspectives on the intersection of 5G, security, and technology. We recently chatted with Isaac Sacolick, who is a top CIO influencer, keynote speaker, and best-selling author.

Tell us about yourself.

I love how emerging technologies and innovating with them can drive new business opportunities. My career goal is to help businesses of all sizes succeed with technology, data, and collaborative business practices.

I started my career as a CTO in startups, mostly in the media industry, where digital technologies continue to have disruptive impacts. I went on to work as a transformational CIO helping enterprises develop new digital products, improve customer experiences, and drive competitiveness with analytics.

Today, I lead StarCIO, where we guide clients through their transformations of fundamental digital practices like agile methodology, architecture, DevOps, product management, and data science.

I share my learnings and best practices from different industries and organizational cultures. My blog, Social, Agile, and Transformation is top-rated for CIO, and my book Driving Digital is an Amazon bestseller.

I also write for CIO, InfoWorld, and other publications on various digital transformation and emerging technology topics.

What do you think 5G means for the future of mobility?

Mobile applications progressed from text to audio and then video, while network speeds increased, infrastructure costs dropped, and hardware capabilities improved. We’ll experience another round of emerging capabilities with 5G, including streaming 4K videos to mobile devices, new AR/VR applications, and digitally immersive shopping experiences.

I also expect a new wave of video-centric communication tools. Can you imagine using your phone to hop onto multiple simultaneous video conversations with your friends and social networks?

It’s coming.

Even more important will be the business impacts. Much like the internet brought significant changes to how businesses interact with customers and process data, 5G will bring a new level of interconnectedness among employees, offices, the factory floor, and customers.

Industries like oil and gas, construction, and manufacturing will see a new wave of efficiency and innovation by connecting real-time, field-generated data with enterprise cloud data stores, then using machine learning to aid workers’ plans and decisions.

What challenges do you see in moving to 5G?

Enterprises first have to understand the implications of faster, more reliable, ubiquitous networking capabilities and forecast the impacts in their industries and with competitors, supply chains, employees, and customer expectations.

That requires researching, brainstorming, and strategic planning not only around the impacts of 5G, but their secondary implications in other emerging technologies, especially Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual reality/augmented reality (AR/VR).
Every enterprise will need an internal futurist to consider various scenarios and their impacts.

Some challenges will be determining not if, but when, enterprises upgrade everything from corporate-sponsored mobile devices to internal networking infrastructure.

What are the top security challenges for 5G?

The combination of faster networks, more devices, increased importance in enterprise data assets, and more significant information sharing across the supply chain will create a new wave of security challenges.

It will be much harder to manage 5G security with perimeter defense mechanisms and rule-based trust algorithms when there is a simultaneous increase in speed, volume, and overall risk.

Establishing trust protocols, especially around data sharing, will be one of the more significant challenges.

I expect that 5G’s performance will drive broader partnerships that require multiple parties to share data securely. For example, before 5G, we were concerned about how government agencies were storing and sharing data.

With 5G and the emergence of smarter cities, there will be increased sharing of city-smart data with smart buildings, enterprises, and consumers. That’s going to require some new methods in how we protect data and provide entitlements across a broader ecosystem of companies and people.

What’s the most important change/benefit in what 5G will create for your organization?

StarCIO helps companies drive smarter, faster, and more innovative business transformations leveraging data, analytics, software, automation, and emerging technology.

5G networks represent a new dimension of how we help clients plan for the future, especially in enabling the workforce with data and analytics capabilities. Organizations will have to expand the scope of their data stores, data flows, and the underlying network and infrastructure. There are many decisions around the architecture and platforms, and most businesses can ill afford to sit on the sidelines for too long.

For example, many companies have spent the last five years moving to the cloud and designing mobile-first applications.

With 5G, organizations should now consider mobile edge computing, microservices, IoT data streaming sources, and the data needs of machine learning algorithms when creating the underlying infrastructure, data management, application, and end-user compute architectures.

What’s the top business challenge that could be addressed with 5G technology?

Remote working remains a significant challenge for many enterprises.

I still walk into conference rooms with subpar conferencing and data access capabilities. The delays in getting meetings started can be a considerable loss of productivity, and many remote workers cannot participate in meetings seamlessly. What’s an even more significant challenge is including remote workers in ad hoc conversations and communications that come up naturally in office spaces.

For example, I think about the one software developer on an agile development team that works remotely. How easy is it for her to participate in a fifteen-minute scrum stand-up when the video conferencing takes several minutes to set up, the experience limited by single-camera views, and the overall performance is unreliable?

With 5G capabilities and continued increases in the number of remote workers, I expect the next generation of office communication technologies will address these gaps.

In five years, where do you think we’ll be with 5G?

We’ll be competing on a whole new playing field in five years with 5G.

Since devices and infrastructure are typically on three-year refresh cycles, many businesses will have upgraded their networks and end-user computing devices to support 5G over this period.

The backbone to better support remote working, large-scale IoT rollouts, and personalized experiences backed by machine learning will all be in place over the next five years. The question will be on the level of innovation in the application, data, and security that parallels 5G’s roll-out and which enterprises will be early adopters of these capabilities.

While full 5G networks will not be deployed ubiquitously in five years by mobile network operators globally, they are eager to work with enterprises that embrace 5G capabilities and are open to new business models to accelerate 5G adoption.

About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is the founder and president of StarCIO, a digital transformation consulting company that enables organizations to be smarter, faster, and more innovative with data and technology. Isaac has been writing a blog, “Social, Agile, and Transformation” for over ten years with almost 400 posts covering topics on CIO leadership, digital transformation, agile execution, big data, innovation, and digital marketing. He is also a contributing editor at InfoWorld and CIO.com. Isaac’s book, Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology has received significant praise with Forbes.com calling it a “…timely, engaging, and practical roadmap to developing and implementing digital strategies.” For more information on Isaac please visit https://www.starcio.com/