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Deloitte may be best known as a business consultancy — one that’s been trusted for 175 years by both enterprises and governments — but thanks to a partnership with Verizon, it’s getting deeper into the business of creating and selling 5G offerings. The companies announced today that they’re working together to develop client-specific “transformational solutions” for the manufacturing and retail sectors, with plans to expand to other sectors in the foreseeable future.

According to the companies, Deloitte will use its relationships and knowledge of specific companies to help Verizon deploy private enterprise and mobile networks, 5G edge platforms, IoT sensors, and applications, including cloud-based AI and computer vision solutions. Their first deployment will be a 5G and edge-powered assembly line defect spotter for a smart factory in Texas, using AI to both identify and predict quality issues and then instantly alert remote operators. They’re also working on a deeper factory quality management solution based on factory-aware sensors and software.

The partnership between Verizon and Deloitte is significant to technical decision-makers because it illustrates how enterprise adoption of 5G and edge solutions is evolving from one-size-fits-all products to bespoke offerings based on individual customer needs. While Verizon’s own business team might struggle to fully understand and pitch individual companies on technology upgrades, Deloitte’s existing relationships and deep, consultancy-level knowledge of clients’ technology needs could give it a leg up on crafting custom solutions and help Verizon shut rivals T-Mobile and AT&T out of some major 5G enterprise deals.

More broadly, the deal suggests how a key emerging trend in 5G — the predicted explosive growth of 5G in enterprises, potentially surpassing demand for higher-speed consumer broadband — could actually play out over the next several years. Industries and governments have predicted for years that 5G will be a catalyst for “industry 4.0” or the “fourth industrial revolution,” enabling the digitalization and remote operation of historically offline sectors ranging from farming and mining to manufacturing, but there was a gap between the technology vendors and the industries they hoped to serve. Consultancies may wind up filling that gap as intermediaries, relying on global 5G interoperability groups to develop solutions that work for multinational companies.

Reached for comment, Verizon couldn’t detail the retail side of the partnership but said that it expected to have more to share in the new year. Deloitte already consults widely within the retail sector — in merchandising, wholesaling, and distribution — so the 5G offering could span anything or everything from business intelligence to inventory and ecommerce management.

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