The Future of 5G with Mo Katibeh of AT&T

May 9, 2019

By Ken Beaulieu

ANA

Mo Katibeh, CMO of AT&T Business, is excited for 5G. Katibeh, who is speaking at the upcoming 2019 ANA Masters of B2B Conference later this spring, is so jazzed about the new technology that he has dedicated his entire conference session to covering what 5G will mean for B2B businesses. Ahead of that conference session, we sat down with the marketing veteran to get some insight on why he views the rollout of 5G as a revolutionary moment that will forever change the way people do business, why it's time to for business marketers to stop talking about B2B, and what qualities businesses should look for in their wireless carriers, whether that's AT&T or someone else.

Read the interview, edited for length and clarity, below.

 

Q. On a personal level, what excites you most about the introduction of 5G?

I believe that a whole new wave of innovation will be unleashed as 5G enters the mainstream. Think about how our lives changed with the introduction of 4G LTE and the smartphones revolution. The gig economy was born, giving rise to rideshare companies, location-based apps, mobile payments, and video and music streaming. Now imagine how we can transform entire industries that take advantage of 5G's eventual super-fast speeds, low latency, and mass connectivity.

We envision eventual opportunities in healthcare where doctors in training can use augmented and virtual reality to train side-by-side with the world's leading surgeons — regardless of their location. In manufacturing, we foresee the creation of smart factories where 5G ultimately enhances productivity and improves safety of workers. And for retail, we believe that 5G eventually will help bridge the gap between bricks and clicks. Think about intelligent digital signage that recognizes you when you walk into a store and allows you to "try on" a multitude of outfits and never walk into a dressing room.

All of this is ultimately possible because 5G is coming to the market at the same time that other technologies are making an impact — like edge computing, artificial intelligence, and internet of things. You mix all those ingredients together correctly and you have a recipe for successful innovation.

 

Q. How will 5G transform the way you market AT&T Business and its products and services?

In every generation, there are only a couple of moments in time where you can rethink the way you do business. As CMO, I see 5G as one of those moments. Everybody wants to understand what 5G can do for them. In fact, AT&T had some customers signing up for 5G even before we made the first successful connection on the commercial network. When you have that kind of excitement about a new product or service, you need to take advantage of it. At AT&T, our initial educational work is done with many of our existing business customers where we have strong relationships. These customers understand that we're not just there to sell them a fast wireless network and a device. Our sales teams are working hand-in-hand with these customers to understand their business issues and to create customized solutions.

In fact, one of our customers — Rush Systems for Health — will be joining me on stage to say why it's important for them to bring 5G in to their Chicago-based hospital and healthcare system.

 

Q. From the customer perspective, how will 5G improve the experience with a brand?

5G will give us an opportunity to make the brand experience extremely personal. That's a bold statement if you look my title and think "This guy is a B2B marketer. He markets to companies, not people."

It's time to stop talking about B2B. It's now all about Business to People. Some call it B2B2C, but I'm ready to drop the acronyms and start focusing on humanizing the brand.

When we explain 5G to our customers, we're telling a story about people — how technology is making things better for people. It's really all about the outcomes we're driving for people.

 

Q. What advice do you have for other businesses about to jump on the 5G bandwagon?

You mean, other than always choose AT&T [laughter]? Seriously, businesses need to work with carriers that understand their industries. That's why we have our sales and marketing teams focused on specific verticals like healthcare, manufacturing and transportation, retail and hospitality, finance and insurance, and public sector. These teams are experts in their sectors and work to not only solve specific business problems but to push businesses to the next level. If you want to get the most out of 5G, you need to understand how products like edge computing, internet of things, and artificial intelligence can work together.


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