Craig Wigginton, Vice Chairman & U.S. Telecom Leader, Deloitte LLP
Connectivity is an inseparable part of our daily lives and the telecom industry continues to evolve with the consumers’ needs and habits. Today, the industry is faced with a changing revenue stream with the revenue yield on data services continuing to decline as consumers use more and more data, with static or declining monthly bills. Hence, it is critical for the industry to identify rapid investment opportunities across the telecom portfolio— including fifth-generation wireless network technology (5G), Internet of Things (IoT), cross-industry partnerships (such as mHealth and mPayments), as well as a host of other growth opportunities.
Below, I summarized the five key trends I expect to impact the telecom industry in the coming year, and how this will affect the overall connected ecosystem. With these trends and others, we expect to see continuous technological developments within, as well as those driven by the telecom sector that continue to transform the enterprise space in a wide range of new and exciting ways. Companies need to be well versed in these trends and need to be prepared to transform accordingly.
Trend #1: 5G–the next generation is here
One of the most anticipated mobile technology platforms, 5G will be the connective tissue for the emerging technologies that rely on telecom, such as IoT, autonomous vehicles, and mobile media. With the sheer number of applications that 5G will support, it will represent a critical impact to the telecom ecosystem and beyond.
While the roll out will be completed in the next few years, the foundations will begin to form in 2018. Compared to the earlier wireless technology generations, we expect 5G to have a much greater impact on the economy both in terms of generating jobs and increasing GDP.
Trend #2: IoT is the new normal
The telecom ecosystem expects IoT— connected car, home and self—to become a critical engine for future growth. So far, largest US carriers have made significant investments in the connected-car space over the last several years, and we are already seeing strong growth in mobile subscriptions for connected vehicles.
Home IoT continues to be top of mind too. Especially with the voice controlled centralized units’ entry to market will continue the growth in this space with applications such as connected home monitoring and control, entertainment, and more.
Even though Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR and VR) are still emerging technologies they represent a relatively quick adaption curve
Lastly, the connected enterprise market represents a wealth of opportunity in the IoT space—potentially exceeding that within the consumer space. The scale at which IoT solutions can be deployed in an enterprise environment and the benefits they can provide make a strong business case for an enterprise IoT deployment compared to a ‘nice to have’ scenario which may be the case for most consumers.
Some of the examples of enterprise IoT solutions include connected vehicle fleets, predictive maintenance, factory automation, workforce training, and field support. These applications offer improved efficiency, reduced costs, and better data analytics, and reporting. Each of these will dramatically broaden the reach of wireless for consumers and business users.
Trend #3: AR/VR will be part of the future
Even though Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR and VR) are still emerging technologies they represent a relatively quick adaption curve. According to Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey (GMCS) released recently, approximately 10 percent of consumers in the US now own a VR headset. While the initial introduction for the technology is around the entertainment space, the enterprise opportunities are also vast. Remote healthcare solutions, centralized maintenance, virtual warehouse management, and self-help technical support are only few of the use cases where the technology is poised to offer many advantages to the enterprise space while relying on the availability of the network spectrum and capacity.
Trend #4: User habits are maturing
Wireless devices are now a fixture of the American workplace and they are here to stay. In Deloitte’s GMCS, 93 percent of wireless users admitted to using their Smartphone while at work and these numbers have remained relatively constant over the past three years. While employer-provided Smartphones have always been accepted as a norm for communication outside the office, their ubiquity inside the workplace has greater possibilities for communication, collaboration and security, than is currently utilized.
Similar opportunities are available on the consumer end too. Although we observe an increasingly balanced approach consumers are taking to their mobile phone behavior, considering that US consumers look at their phones, an average of 47 times a day (translating to about 12 billion looks per day in the aggregate in the US alone), and the industry will no doubt continue to thrive.
Trend#5: Security and privacy continue to be on top of mind
Security and privacy are key considerations for anyone in the telecom ecosystem. Fewer than one in five consumers believe they are very well informed about security risks for their connected home devices, and nearly 40 percent say they are not properly informed at all. In addition, according to Deloitte’s GMCS for the third consecutive year, the No. 1 reason for not using mPayments is the fear that it is not secure enough, despite mobile payments being more secure than many forms of traditional payments. Bottom line is there is certainly an opportunity for telecom ecosystem players to help educate consumers on the benefits of secure network solutions.