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Bringing the future forward: how 5G is powering innovation across Europe

19 Oct 2021
Fanan Henriques

Fánan Henriques

Strategy and Transformation Director at Vodafone Business

In today’s fast-paced and disruptive world, innovation is key to business success.

Innovation can take many facets such as product, process, customer experience and business model, but ultimately it is critical for growth, and in some cases even survival.

The pandemic has spurred this on. A survey by McKinsey found that 96 percent of businesses have changed their go-to-market model since the pandemic hit1.

It isn’t hard to believe. We’ve all seen entire operating models change overnight, from local restaurants pivoting into digital ordering and delivery services, to medical practices championing digital appointments.

Without adapting and evolving in this way, many wouldn’t have survived the past 20+ months.

The role of technology

We can’t talk about innovation and not mention technology as a key catalyst for transformation. They are closely connected in a world where digital is becoming the main consumption model for customers, while at the same time production systems are becoming more software and cloud driven.

Technologies such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI are transforming global industries. Providing data-driven insight at speed and digitising ways of working.

The game changing power of 5G in particular lies in the fact that many mission critical applications that were static, because they were provided through fixed line connections, are now live with mobility and this has allowed for a complete rethink in the way businesses operate. It is almost like machines becoming animated and alive like an old Mickey Mouse cartoon.

Even more well-known technologies, such as Cloud and Virtual Private Networks (VPN), have played an important role during the crisis – allowing most of the global workforce to log on from the safety of their own homes.

At Vodafone, we want to capture this enthusiasm for digital transformation, developing new technologies that empower people and create a better future.

Working with H-Farm to drive 5G solutions


Nestled in the Venetian countryside is one of H-Farm’s international hubs, where students and professionals are guided in a digital transformation process to become the informed leaders of innovation and change.

H-Farm is Italy’s innovation platform that supports the creation of new business models and the transformation and education of young people and companies from a digital perspective.

Established in 2005, it was the first in the world to adopt a model that brings together investments, business consultancy and digitally augmented educational programs in one place and now it is the most important innovation centre in Europe.

Working together, we’re enabling this innovation hub with our 5G technology. With data speed transfers that exceed 10 GBPS and latency of less than 10 milliseconds, this next generation infrastructure provides a fast, responsive, secure, and reliable performance on which start-ups can design new services and business models.

In the education area, 5G will make it possible for people to learn collaboratively, even at a distance.

It enables an experience where content is available in high definition and in real-time, supporting people to develop new digital skills and training solutions, such as the use of virtual reality. These skills are necessary now but will be even more so in the future world of work.

It can also help with today’s understanding of such technologies, spurring on greater innovations and use cases that will change the way we work tomorrow.

Experiment and educate for the future

To take strides forward, the latest technologies need to be available for experimentation so that organisations can fully understand their capabilities.

That’s why we’ve opened innovation hubs across the rest of Europe too, that offer the perfect place to explore the latest technologies in an immersive and collaborative way.

At the Ricoh Arena in the UK, our Vodafone Business Lounge gives businesses in the West Midlands access to digital expertise and an opportunity to experience the latest game-changing technologies – from 5G, to IoT and high-speed fibre.

And in The Landing at MediaCityUK, our Digital Innovation Hub, means businesses can get a head start in developing new applications and services. Working with our experts, you can understand what’s possible and how to move your organisation to the next level.

With more than 100 start-up companies in MediaCityUK alone, this innovation space also provides an area for entrepreneurs to come together and exchange ideas.

Building solutions for businesses


This isn’t just about smaller organisations though. Large businesses need to keep their finger on the pulse and be just as passionate about pushing the boundaries, if they’re going to fend off new competition from digital disruptors.

5G will create benefits for all enterprises through capabilities such as remote control, augmented reality interfaces, machine vision and autonomous robots.

We are currently partnering with large enterprises across markets and industry verticals to demonstrate how 5G enables a new era of real-time and intelligent solutions that cut across every element of enterprise operations.

A review of 5G use cases, conducted by IHS Markit, estimated that the global rollout of 5G could enable a €10 trillion increase in global cross-sector output by 2035 and Capgemini research has found that some 60% of organisations that are trialling the technology have realised benefits.

Commercial adoption is still nascent, but these new solutions, together with an ever broader roll-out of 5G networks, will lead to an increase in 5G and IoT adoption until 2025 – and another leap come 2030.

For us, that means providing the technological solutions and skills that will help your business to grow now, and in the future. Which is why we’ve opened two new research and development (R&D) centres in Dresden, Germany, and Málaga, Spain, that are dedicated to developing new solutions for businesses.

The centres will use 5G, 6G, mobile private networks (MPN), and cybersecurity, across areas such as autonomous driving, connected agriculture, manufacturing and transport & logistics.

If you are interested to learn more about how to start your digital transformation journey, but can’t get to one of our innovation hubs, why not book an appointment with our experts at our Virtual Customer Experience Centre?


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