Deloitte has released its 2021 Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions, which highlights how worldwide trends in TMT may affect businesses and consumers worldwide.

In addition, the report highlights how many of these trends are being driven by the global pandemic's economic and societal impacts, resulting in growth for cloud technologies, the intelligent edge, media segments such as sports and the shift to telemedicine.

“If we've learned anything during this challenging year, it's how critical technology, telecom, media, and entertainment innovation is for business continuity, keeping in touch with friends and family, appreciating new ways to entertain and learn, and taking care of our health," said Kevin Westcott, Deloitte’s vice chairman and U.S. technology, media & telecom leader.                

“The pandemic will continue to shape business strategies in 2021, and consumers will expect faster, more reliable and safer user experiences. TMT companies that can address these customer needs, while rebuilding their industries for growth, will likely emerge as leaders next year and beyond.”

The pandemic drives cloud growth: By some metrics, the cloud market grew even faster in 2020 than in 2019. According to the TMT Predictions report, this was driven by increased demand due to COVID-19, lockdowns and the work-from-anywhere business environment. Deloitte predicts that revenue growth will remain greater than 30% for 2021 through 2025 as companies migrate to the cloud to save money, become more agile and drive innovation.

Unleashing Industry 4.0 with the intelligent edge: The intelligent edge the combination of advanced wireless connectivity, compact processing power and AI, and located near devices that use and generate data – is already animating some of the largest technology and communications companies on the planet.

Deloitte predicts that in 2021, the global market for the intelligent edge will reach US$12 billion, continuing a CAGR of around 35%. That increase is being driven primarily by telecommunications companies and their expanding 5G networks, along with hyperscale cloud providers. These highly capitalized, trailblazing leaders may make it easier for companies across multiple industries to attain the intelligent edge, Deloitte said. 

“Many of our technology predictions emphasize a reliance on virtual innovation driven largely by the pandemic – remote working, digital transformation and cloud migration have all accelerated faster than we expected," said Paul Silverglate, vice chairman and U.S. technology sector leader, Deloitte LLP.

“But one prediction we'll be keeping a very close eye on, driven primarily by the expansion of 5G networks and the rise of artificial intelligence, is growth of the intelligent edge. By bringing powerful computing capabilities closer to where data originates, the intelligent edge unlocks the potential for faster, less expensive and more secure operations in everything from autonomous vehicles to augmented reality to the Internet of Things helping to realize the promise of Industry 4.0.”

Women and tech transform sports: While the number of sporting events slowed during 2020, the potential for growth ultimately did not. Deloitte predicts that two major trends in sports – the increased monetization of women's sports and the use of digital to create a hyper-quantified athlete – will continue their upward trajectory. Women's sports are now on track to be worth more than a billion dollars in the years ahead. Its ability to generate substantial TV audiences, deliver value to sponsors and draw fans has been demonstrated on multiple occasions over the past decade.

In addition, Deloitte is predicting the following:

  • The 8K wave begins: Sales of 8K TVs are likely to reach US$5 billion in 2021, with equipment and services for producing 8K content generating hundreds of millions of dollars more.
  • The 5G health myth gets busted: Concerns about 5G's health risks have no fact base. Deloitte predicts that in 2021, it is very unlikely that the radiation from 5G mobile networks and 5G phones will affect the health of any single individual. However, if education about 5G is to be effective in curbing popular fears, it should be compelling, consistent and pervasive, and it should begin now.
  • Next-generation RANs accelerate: Open and virtualized radio access networks (RANs) will give mobile network operators (MNOs) the potential to reduce costs and increase vendor choice as they roll out 5G.
Paul Barker
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