FOR those planning to go to South Korea for the Winter Olympics in 2018 or Japan for the summer Olympics two years later, the mobile landscape may seem a little different from that of today.
Both nations are intent on setting up 5G mobile networks and showcasing it for the first time on a mass scale on the world stage, providing the fastest and most efficient mobile communication that the world has ever seen.
There is a reason why the competition is on to win gold in the 5G race – 5G is said to be the future of mobile, and is expected to revolutionise how we conduct our lives. Our cars will become smartphones on wheels; healthcare systems will be able to predict diseases and ailments, informing us before they happen; our homes will know when we are in and out, and control internal room temperatures accordingly, and so on.
5G is the latest evolution of mobile, that first began with 1G, those clunky mobile phones the size of bricks that could only deliver voice telephony. 2G first brought mobile telephones to the consumer (ie not just to businessmen and women), 3G began to change the nature of worldwide communications, and 4G was designed around high-speed data on the move.
5G is the next step, and will be softer, more energy efficient and more cost effective – allowing more to be done, at higher speeds, with less. Machine to machine communication will become as important as people to people communication, and we could see a drastic change in the way we live our lives within a decade – if not sooner.
Evolving with technology
While every conceivable industry will be affected, of particular interest to me is how Singapore’s hotel industry will react, and how guest service will evolve in line with such technological advancement.
There are obvious areas that make 5G perfectly suited to Singapore’s hospitality sector – especially given the city state’s manpower shortages, high cost of labour and search for productivity.
Imagine a guest arriving at Changi Airport and taking a taxi to his hotel in the CBD. In theory, the moment that he touches down, the hotel will know, and staff will be able to follow their guest as he progresses through customs and along the ECP, knowing exactly – to the minute, thanks to traffic-measuring technology – when he will arrive. Ten minutes out, the kitchen will automatically be informed, and will have prepared the guest’s pre-requested dinner of burger with chips (no gherkin, extra relish) which will be ready and waiting the moment when he enters his room.
While the guest experience benefits are obvious, productivity savings will be huge. There is no need for call centre staff to man the phones, waiting for orders; the front office staff will know exactly when their guests will arrive for check-in and so only be at the front desk when needed, particularly useful when there are sudden surges. Lastly, the chances of miscommunication are almost eliminated.
Kitchens themselves will take on a life of their own. Fridges and store rooms will be able to tell when they are running low on stocks, and automatically order more from the supplier, saving the chef hours in stock-taking. Ovens will pre-heat on their own, as they will know exactly what room service dish has been ordered, for who and for when.
Further behind the scenes, in the field of staff training, mobile learning solutions will dominate the way that staff are employed, learn and are trained. HR will be able to test candidates from afar, and accurately judge their vocational and language skills through mobile – saving time and considerable cost.
Classroom-based training will be a thing of the past as smartphones will be able to provide superior levels of language, vocational and upselling training more efficiently and cost-effectively.
I foresee pedagogical solutions that will be able to judge an employee’s performance on the job, ie while they are actually dealing and interacting with customers, providing feedback on their language levels, interaction skills and suggesting improvements.
Singapore’s hotels have struggled with a reputation for high cost and poor service. Even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself has admitted: “Ask any tourist or even a Singaporean which country has good service, (and) I don’t think Singapore comes immediately to mind.”
The next generation of mobile technology promises to solve the scourge of high manpower reliance and low productivity that bedevils the industry, and if any country is poised to take advantage of this leap in technology, Singapore is.