cft

Is the customer 5G-ready?

We are at the crux of disruptive technology & the new normal.


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Yuri Zaitsev

3 years ago | 5 min read

This story isn’t really about 5G nor is it about a real company. It is about math.

It is also about something human.

I was sitting in a meeting with Corp. We were discussing 5G. Corp is not actually named Corp, and we were not actually talking about 5G. It was all online, so naturally I had on a nice shirt and hoping that people would then extrapolate that to mean I had on nice pants too. I was in sweatpants and barefoot. Corp is headquartered in Silicon Valley so the nice shirt was probably not necessary. Business attire usually tends to mean hoodie in San Fransisco.

“Are our users 5G-ready?” Franklin is a director at Corp. On the screen he seems tall and dark haired. His home office has a really nice looking paneled ceiling far above his head. A little paper weight Corp Logo can be seen on his desk. Franklin is not his real name. He reports up to Chris, who is also on the call.

“Do the users even know what 5G-ready means?” Chris is a VP and an equally tall, Asian woman. Chris is not her real name. She is in a stark white room, with eye popping, saturated, furniture. Chris runs a team of people who all have PhD’s. This detail is true.

They have been busy developing 5G. Lately they have been collecting every statistic imaginable about their 5G-ready users. Soon they might consider collecting statistics on some people who are not 5G-ready.

5G is a very smart thing. It is a technology that, according to Corp, is going to change how people live. As of May 2020, we are expecting a lot of these technologies: AI, virtual reality, wearable screens, super flat laptops, robots, etc. Also COVID-19 is happening. The entire world is figuring out “The New Normal.” This is also a very smart thing, just like 5G.

The point is that there are many 5G’s and if you work anywhere near technology, then you most likely have a 5G too.

“Are the users 5G-ready?”

“Do the users even know what 5G-ready means?”

The real answer is “probably not.” My guess is that Chris and Franklin would be hardpressed to find a human being who is exactly 5G-ready, the way they are defining it. In fact the team of PhD’s admitted to having problems finding these users.

For the rest of the meeting Chris and Franklin discussed how to make a “white glove service.” It’ll help users “setup” and “onboard” and “go online.” If you are to put 5G into a nice box and correctly guide people how to use it, then you could ensure that the users will be 5G-ready. Everything will be fine.

This is a trap. Everything will not be fine.

Let’s pretend that somewhere exists a small kid. They had just started to read Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss.

Then you said. “Listen kid, I see you like to read. You have to check out Lord of The Rings. Game changer. It’s like Fox in Socks 2.0.”

This is a pretty big gap.

The kid is going to have to learn a lot before they are going to enjoy Lord of The Rings. They need to go to school and it will take some time.

Schools do something really clever. They don’t just teach the kid how to read. They also use a special ruler, which they made with the help of Georg Rasch. In the 60’s, Georg, a Danish mathematician, made this model where you could analyze how a person acts based on the persons abilities, attitudes, personality traits, as well as the difficulty of the action.

What this meant for schools is that they could make tests that keep increasing in difficulty which measure if a kid is ahead of the class or being left behind and by how much. It’s like a special ruler they periodically use to measure if the kid is developing as expected towards Lord of the Rings.

Here is the best part. If the kid is left behind, like if they are in Grade 4 but are only getting the hang of reading, then the teachers can change the rest of the ruler for that one kid. That’s the entire point of the Rasch Model. You measure, see why they are where they are, then adjust.

The power of this is that teachers can ensure the kid is LoTR-ready. It won’t happen overnight. Teachers could put the kid on the right track and help the kid adjust when they face any barriers. Thank you Georg Rasch.

LoTR-ready is a metaphor for being 5G-ready which is a metaphor for being prepared for any disruptive technology. If Corp finds that users are not 5G-ready and do not know what it means, then this is something Corp could do.

When it comes to implementing Rasch Models for Corp, things aren’t so clear cut. The first requirement is that everyone must be absolutely crystal clear on what the end goal is. The special ruler helps get people to a certain ideal goal, but that goal better be really well defined.

The second requirement is to deeply understand what factors affect a persons progress towards being ready, and also what is important to the person. Access to internet is a factor for Corp’s 5G-readiness, but is that feasible or important to the person? Understanding these particulars will help you to adjust the ruler and pull the person along towards being 5G-ready.

Only then will a Rasch Model work. Simply put, the special ruler turns qualitative data that you collect into quantitative numbers which you can use. It is a plan that helps people get from where they are to where you want them to go. Even if they mess up along the way.

“Are the users 5G-ready?”

“Do the users even know what 5G-ready means?”

Probably not. But if you understand what 5G-ready is, and you understand the users, and you make a special ruler for them, and a plan, then it doesn’t matter if they are or not. They will be. Thanks to you and Georg.

Everything will be fine.

There is a separate discussion about bias and whether being 5G-ready is ethically good in some cases, but we not going to get into that. Yet.

In 2020, COVID-19 is an issue. The buzzword of the day is “The New Normal.” It is still a little ambiguous as to what that means for everyone. Some schools are going to be conducting video calls until next year. Other schools are going to try a day at school, day at home approach.

Every country, industry, and community have their own “New Normal’s” that people must be ready for. Going back to the old way of life is not really possible. COVID-19 has put a permanent asterisk in the way people live.

There are also many people who are protesting in the streets about quarantine and mandatory mask laws that have been put into place. They are not New Normal-ready and by all accounts it seems like they do not want to be. Putting “New Normal” into a pretty box and telling them to be “New Normal”-ready would most likely backfire.

A person who is already restructuring their lives for the future has a special ruler. A protestor’s special ruler for getting to the New Normal is different. We can create those rulers and make sure that everyone becomes 5G-ready together.

The entire point is to help people get to an ideal future. Not mindlessly but with a plan.

Originally published here.

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