Tech trends to watch out for

May 01, 2018
Richard Howard, Partner and Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications at Deloitte, discusses Deloitte’s 2018 predictions for the technology, media and telecommunications industry.

The technology, media and entertainment and technology ecosystem remains as fascinating as ever in 2018. How will machine learning affect enterprise? How are digital subscriptions likely to grow? What’s the future of the smartphone? These are all questions that the 2018 Deloitte TMT Predictions Report addresses. Now in its 17th year, Deloitte’s annual report provides an outlook on key trends over the course of the next one to five years in the technology, media and telecommunications industry sectors worldwide.

So what are the emerging trends for 2018? We forecast major strides in machine learning for enterprise, a worldwide appetite for digital subscriptions among consumers, and ongoing smartphone dominance – and that’s just the beginning.

Machine learning

This year’s report indicates that businesses will likely double their use of machine learning technology by the end of 2018. The most important area is the growth in new semiconductor chips that will increase the use of machine learning, thereby enabling applications to use less power while simultaneously becoming more responsive, flexible and capable.

Digital media

We predict that the average adult in the developed world will have an average of two online-only media subscriptions and by the end of 2020, that average will have doubled to four. The cost of these subscriptions – principally spanning TV, movies, music, news and magazines – will typically be under €10 each per month in Europe. These subscriptions will supplement traditional media subscriptions that include online access, such as a paid TV or newspaper subscription that often includes one or more digital passes. This year, we expect to see 375 million video-based demand subscriptions. Of this, Netflix will account for circa 120 million subscriptions with other new providers such as Disney and Formula 1 coming online. By the end of 2018, we expect to see:

  • About 150 million music subscriptions;
  • Circa 20 million online news subscribers. These subscribers will be willing to pay $1 to $2 per copy and are looking for factual content, dense news and quality editorial content; and
  • 35 million video consoles connected to subscription services.
We expect this trend to be mirrored in Ireland. It is estimated that there are 250,000 active Netflix subscribers in Ireland, with that number expected to rise to more than 500,000 by 2020. Our per capita Netflix subscription is third in the world behind the US and Canada. Our broadsheet readers have also traditionally been very high, which is closely correlated to online newspaper subscriptions. We therefore expect to see this trend reflected in the Irish market, and Ireland has shown that, as a country, it is willing to pay for music content with 60% of Irish smartphone users citing music streaming services as being important to them.

Wireless home internet

With technological developments in the area of millimetre wave (mmWave), fixed wireless access (FWA) will become a realistic broadband option in many homes across the world. Wireless home internet refers to a specific antennae on a building, which will connect to a nearby base station that in turn will have a fibre connection as a backbone to the service.

Until 2018, such connectivity has required very small cells and hence, a large number of base stations – similar to what is required for 5G. Speeds are potentially much higher than 4G, with up to 2Gb per second the likely minimum and 10Gb per second possible, all with latency of less than 10 milliseconds. Based on information in the public domain, this is being trialled across 15 states in the US by various telco providers. Importantly, the trials are revealing that mmWave technology may work better than predicted. Some trials have seen 1.4Gb per second speeds at distances of about a quarter of a mile and from behind a building. If this proves the case in larger trials, it would make the technology significantly more useful. Globally, this is seen as a viable alternative for those who do not have wired ‘fibre to the home’ broadband.

In the larger scheme of things. there is unlikely to be a single magic-bullet technology. Different markets have different weather, geography, density, digging costs and even extent of foliage, but such technological developments could be beneficial to Ireland’s rural communities who are awaiting broadband connectivity. With a low rural density population, fibre to the home is a costly solution for connecting rural areas. Given that other solutions such as satellite broadband and microwave signals have technological limitations, mmWave technology could be the answer to Ireland’s broadband problems.

The future of the smartphone

Smartphone adoption continues to grow. By the end of 2023, more than 90% of adults in developed countries are expected to own a smartphone, with ownership among 55-75 year-olds reaching 85%. Deloitte predicts that owners will interact with their phones on average 65 times per day in 2023, a 20% increase on 2018. In Ireland alone, Deloitte’s research shows that individuals already check their phone on average 57 times a day, so we’re well on the way to meeting this particular prediction.

This is just a flavour of what is covered in the report – from examining how traditional TV viewing by 18-24 year-olds will decline by 5% to 15% per year in western economies in 2018 and 2019 to the prediction that one billion passenger journeys, or one quarter of all passengers, are expected to be on planes fitted with in-flight connectivity in 2018. It makes for interesting reading and can be found here.

Technology’s progress can appear daunting at times, but let’s not forget that humans hold the reins!