Historically, periods in which huge quantities of data have been made available, such as the invention of search engines and social media, have coincided with significant innovation and advances in AI and machine learning. The introduction of 5G will be no different - transforming automation, robotics and IoT, ultimately leading to a fifth industrial revolution, or “Industry 5.0.”

According to a recent report, an estimated 1.5 billion people are expected to be connected to 5G networks by 2024. Contrary to popular belief, the advantage of 5G is not so much increased bandwidth over current 4G services, but rather its ability to support more than 250 times the number of devices per square kilometer. Not only will each connection support higher bandwidth - possibly up to 1Ghz - but there will be far more connected devices than ever before.

With 5G, sensors on any device will be able to connect to the Internet regardless of Wi-Fi availability - enabling mobile devices 24/7 access to bandwidth. The applications are vast - from smart medical devices, such as pacemakers and insulin pumps that monitor your body and apply the appropriate treatment in real time, to a connected Internet of autonomous vehicles.

Self-driving cars rely on a constant stream of navigational data - for instance, my family’s Tesla is brimming with cameras and sensors and 5G will allow that data to be stored to build a highly detailed picture of every road. Currently, lots of the data generated from vehicles and other connected devices is being lost because there is no way to transmit it across 4G networks; 5G will make this possible.

– Kārlis Dambrāns

Where will all the data go?

Another prime example of a technology that will chew up enormous amounts of the new bandwidth provided by 5G is surveillance cameras. With 5G, the installation of high resolution (4K) video cameras will require only electrical power, as 5G can provide the bandwidth. Specifically, 4K video cameras produce data at a rate of roughly 25mbps (which equates to 216 terabytes per day, or 6.4 petabytes per month). With hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras in operation around the world, it’s easy to see how the demand for data storage is going to explode from surveillance alone.

It all begs the question: where will all the data go? Recent research from IDC shows that the amount of data stored is doubling every two years and is expected to reach 163 zettabytes by 2025. The bottom line is that 5G will result in an explosion of data and, consequently, a dramatic increase in the need to store it and analyse it.

How can companies adapt their storage infrastructure to keep up?

As digital transformation reshapes virtually every industry around the world, companies will need the infrastructure in place to enable them to pull actionable, on-the-fly insights from the voluminous data they generate. The move to Industry 5.0 is forcing every business to think differently about how they interact with their data and, when it comes to upgraded data management strategies, a cloud-first architecture is emerging as the clear favorite.

Up until now, Amazon, Google and Microsoft have done their best to build walls around their ‘one-stop-shop’ infrastructure offerings - but I’m confident this won’t last. Companies need fast and easy-to-use solutions that don't lock them in or hike up costs without warning. They’re learning about the benefits of taking a multi-cloud approach, in which they can use a combination of private and public cloud services, providing greater flexibility, cost savings and a way to avoid vendor lock-in.

There are a handful of solutions on the market facilitating the multi-cloud strategy that offer superior storage at a fraction of the price of a first generation provider like Amazon. As a result, the data center of the future will see multiple vendors’ offerings all working together to one standard.

We are on the cusp of the next technological boom, and while Industry 5.0 might seem like a grand vision in the distant future, the technology is ripe to turn it into a reality. 5G networks are already being rolled out and developments in AI, robotics and automation are thriving across the globe, but future growth depends on being able to access and make sense of huge volumes of data quickly and easily.

While we don’t know exactly how close we are to a fifth industrial revolution, companies moving their data storage to the cloud is the first, and most important step in taking us there.