Deloitte: Cloud, intelligent edge and telemedicine set to accelerate in 2021

Global market for intelligent edge computing will expand to $12bn in 2021, with more than 400 million video visits to doctors worldwide across the year

If anything has been learned during a challenging year, it’s how critical technology, telecom, media, and entertainment innovation is for business continuity, according to Deloitte, which has predicted that 2021 will see accelerated growth in global cloud spending, intelligent edge computing and networked video in use cases such as telehealth.

Now in its 20th year, the Technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) predictions for 2021 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.

Fundamentally, Deloitte notes that the pandemic will continue to shape business strategies in 2021, and users will expect faster, more reliable and safer user experiences. It adds that those TMT companies that can address these customer needs, while rebuilding their industries for growth, will likely emerge as leaders next year and beyond.

High among the industry changing shifts is the intelligent edge, which Deloitte believes is unleashing Industry 4.0. The intelligent edge – which it defines as the combination of advanced wireless connectivity, compact processing power and AI, and located near devices that use and generate data – is already animating leading technology and communications companies.

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

“Many of our technology predictions emphasise 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 Deloitte chairman and US technology sector leader Paul Silverglate.

“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 realise the promise of Industry 4.0.”

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Also, according to the report, by some metrics, the cloud market grew even faster in 2020 than in 2019. This, said Deloitte, 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.

The report also showed that education and the enterprise were increasingly opting for virtual reality. In particular it noted that the market for digital reality headgear was growing as immersive technologies gain popularity in the enterprise and for education.

Deloitte predicts that, led by purchases by corporations and educational institutions, sales for enterprise use of wearable headsets for virtual, augmented and mixed reality are set to grow by 100% in 2021 over 2019 levels. Deloitte note that market growth for these types of headsets has already accelerated in some markets due to the risk of Covid-19 infection driving their use in teaching employees and students virtually rather than in person.

Another effect of Covid-19 said Deloitte has been jumpstarting a worldwide trend of telemedicine, including video-based doctor visits.

The global pandemic not only necessitated the elimination of regulatory barriers to such visits, but also helped consumers better understand and leverage video calling apps, especially consumers over the age of 65.

Deloitte predicts that the percentage of virtual video visits to in-person doctor visits in 2021 will rise to 5% globally, up from an estimated 1% in 2019.

Even single-digit growth is significant: 8.5 billion doctor’s visits, worth a total of approximately $500bn, took place in the 36 OECD countries in 2019 alone.

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