Like so many companies and publications, Deloitte rubs its crystal ball early every year and reveals some of its predictions — in tech, media and telecommunications — for the next 12 months and beyond. Unlike other would-be Carnacs, though, Deloitte bases its predictions on surveys and data, and, while not every forecasted pick is a hit, the company has correctly tabbed the future for IoT, drones, 3-D printing and smartphone batteries, among other areas.
“Every time you push intelligence deeper and further and more in people’s hands,” said Duncan Stewart, director of technology, media & telecommunications research for Deloitte Canada, “amazing and transformative things happen.”
So, what might 2017 hold? Here are 10 picks to clip, save and keep in mind.
Neural network machine-learning capability will enhance any number of smartphone apps, including navigation, image classification, augmented reality, speech recognition and language translation — even with little or no cell or Wi-Fi connectivity. The biggest difference between performing all those tasks on board your device compared to doing so while connected to the network? “Latency,” Stewart said. “Latency is the time it takes your phone to send a signal to a cell tower, cell tower to California, and back. That can be one or two seconds, which is not a big deal when you’re trying to translate a menu, but if you’re flying a drone? Driving a car? Operating a robot in a factory? You’re working in milliseconds.”
Turns out, tablets might have plenty in common with Google Glass: lots of attention early from the general public, an unclear purpose for most folks, and being absolutely perfect for manufacturers. Tablets will continue to be used in plants, factories, shipyards and other industrial settings, especially with the rise of augmented reality, but they may already be past their prime for general use: Deloitte predicts that 2017 sales will be below 160 million units, down from almost 250 million units a few years ago. “The devices are still out there, they’re popular, they’re being used, but (they have gotten) squeezed,” Stewart said. “Phones have gotten bigger, computers have gotten thinner and lighter, and that’s put pressure on the sweet spot the tablet used to inhabit.”
By the end of next year, IT-as-a-Service spending should approach $550 billion, “which means it will now be 33% of all spending,” Stewart said. “Traditional on-premise solutions will have declined and, by 2022, IT-as-a-Service will be more than 50%, and that’s the real tipping point.” There are holdouts, though the largest and smallest companies are moving the needle the most.
Cybersecurity has been far more than a line item for years now, but Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks will become larger in scale this year, according to Deloitte Global. “We’re expecting 10 million attacks in 2017,” said Paul Lee, head of global technology, media & telecommunications research for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. “And with every year, they have become larger in scale.” The biggest culprits right now? Internet of Things devices, often shipped with passwords that cannot be changed, more folks learning how to launch attacks, and more of us just having more access to more bandwidth.
Odds are good that at least one of your devices has a fingerprint reader. Do you put it to good use? Just three and a half years ago, almost no phones included the tech. Today, there are somewhere around 1 billion devices worldwide that do, and “by the end of this year,” Lee said, “8% of people with a smartphone that has a fingerprint reader will be using it on an active basis.” Soon, fingerprints could be required to access sensitive documents or files, or work email, and can more quickly authenticate transactions. It is not difficult to imagine how this might be translated to the factory floor.
5G is coming, if it hasn’t already arrived in certain corners of the country. “About 200 upgraded 4G networks will include components of the new 5G networks,” Lee said. “They will provide a way in which to learn how the 5G network operates so that when it does launch, there’s a lot of expertise already within them.” The biggest perks? Greater speeds, greater capacities, and a lower cost per gigabyte carried — though the first 5G phones, Lee said, probably won’t launch until 2020.
Can you see me now, smartphone satellite? No? No worries. Indoor navigation is coming, and should be here — to one degree or another — this year. According to some estimates, we spend about 90% of our time indoors, and within the next five years, our phones will be better suited for that lifestyle. “With satellite navigation, you measure your distance from a known location,” Lee said. “The same principle will happen indoors, but with an array of different data sets.” Those sets could include your distance from cell towers, from Wi-Fi hotspots, and from various beacons. Knowing where your workers and your stock are should keep operations running even more seamlessly.
In 2015, more than 35,000 Americans died in motor vehicle incidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Deloitte predicts that by 2022, that number could drop by 6,000, in large thanks to better AEB. “Full autonomy is great,” Stewart said, “but autonomous, or automatic, emergency braking” could cut American car deaths by close to 20%. “There’s not a lot of rocket science to it. You have a camera, you have a radar, you might have a laser. It’s some processors and some sensors, basically.”
Records aren’t dead yet (as written about last year by IW’s Laura Putre): 2017 will likely be the seventh straight year of growth of vinyl record sales, with about 40 million records peddled and close to $1 billion in revenue. “What we’re experiencing is a nostalgia-driven increase in sales of something quite physical,” Lee said. “But this is a very small market. … This is a tiny, tiny drop in the ocean.” And what that proves is, just maybe, there will often be market niches that need to be filled. VCRs really are a thing of the past, but some older products can be manufactured for decades.
2016 included the end of a long and contentious election cycle, of course, as well a Summer Olympics broadcast across multiple platforms. Combine those major factors with ever-evolving forms of media consumption and flat ad revenue is considered a success. How does this affect industry? On the surface, not much. Dig a little deeper, though, read into the numbers, and find out that TV viewing, measured in time per day, is down 40% over the last five years among the 18-to-24 demographic. Those same folks will be filling millions of manufacturing jobs (and learning skills currently in the gap) in the years to come. How will it affect their work in your factory? Yet another question for the future of manufacturing.
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