Project Management Institute


5G Fever


Rakuten Optimism 2019 event in Yokohama, Japan


The drive to 5G, the next-gen mobile internet speed, could ratchet global interconnectivity and tech innovation to the next level—and open doors wide for project professionals.

As more organizations launch internet of things (IoT) and AI initiatives, the need for 5G will only increase: 61 percent of telecom executives expect the peak of their 5G project rollouts to occur between 2020 and 2022, according to a global McKinsey survey of CTOs published in 2019. Swedish telecom Ericsson has been a standout in the space, recently bringing on 4,000 new R&D engineers to make its 5G initiatives a reality.

“The arrival of 5G, and other new services like IoT and AI, requires project managers,” says Yasmina Khelifi, PMP, senior project manager, Orange, Paris, France. Beyond technical expertise, she says, project talent looking to get ahead should focus on intercultural awareness as an increasingly important skill, thanks to an uptick in global endeavors.

At the same time, the edges of the telecom sector will continue to blur and expand. Job seekers would be wise to investigate established adjacent markets, including cable and content creation, as well as newer ones, such as digital payment services and mobile health, according to Deloitte's 2019 Telecommunications Industry Outlook. Blockchain projects are a means for telecom companies to streamline internal processes and allay consumer concerns around data security—as well as a way for project managers to gain experience with a red-hot tool that's expected to spur more change in the coming years.

But the clamor over 5G and newer technologies won't overshadow telecom's core business, mobile connectivity, in the decade ahead. Now nearing ubiquity in developed countries, mobile technology continues to spread across emerging markets, with more than 5 billion people now owning mobile devices. And consumer data appetites are only growing, with smartphones being the preferred device for everything from photos and social media to banking, news and video calls, Deloitte reports. That demand for mobile content—and the infrastructure to deliver it instantaneously, reliably and securely—spells good news for project managers seeking career security and advancement.

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