Nº 1 2015 > Industry analyses
Top tech predictions
The New Year is characterized by a crop of telecom predictions from many research firms and major consultancies. This short article briefly summarizes a few key trends apparent from this year’s projections. For 2015, many of the forecasts coming from major research companies include the growth of mobile and next-generation software, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and of course, social media and big data. A number of analysts have also concentrated on the impact of technological changes on firms or on consumers.
Convergence is strongly evident, with many forecasts for telecom crossing over into the domain of information technology (IT), while telecom network issues are increasingly feeding back into the IT and Internet domains (consider the ongoing debate over net neutrality). The International Data Corporation (IDC) projects that global IT and telecom spending together will grow by 3.8% over the course of 2015 to around USD 3.8 trillion for the year.
Indeed, many of IDC’s 2015 telecom predictions focus on the changing role of the telco in a converging industry, exploring how telcos will move into API business, value-added services, precision mobile advertising, managed security services, and adopt network virtualization to improve their profit margins.
This is in line with many of the outcomes from ITU’s Leadership Summit: The Future in Focus, where one keynote speaker suggested that every company may effectively become a software company in one way or another in future (see the separate article on ITU Telecom World 2014).
Both Ovum and Infonetics explore the slowdown in telecom revenues, especially in Europe. According to Infonetics, global mobile service revenue for the first half of 2014 rose barely 0.5% over the same period in 2013. However, Infonetics injects a positive note insofar as mobile data services (text messaging and mobile broadband) rose in every region, thanks to the increasing use of smartphones, and forecasts that the datacom market should continue to be healthy in 2015.
According to Ovum (the research arm of Informa), mobile subscriptions will grow to 8.5 billion by the end of 2019. ITU predicts the number of Internet users will exceed 3 billion in 2015. WeAreSocial/Internet World Stats forecasts that mobile will help push Internet penetration beyond 50% of the world’s population during late 2016, with some 2.7 billion smartphone “connections” worldwide (it is not altogether clear whether this means subscriptions or actively used phones). In their authoritative “Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions report”, Deloitte predicts that 1.4 billion smartphones will sell worldwide in 2015, with smartphone sales exceeding the sales of the PC, television, tablets and game console sectors combined in terms of both units and revenues. As mobile devices proliferate, Gartner predicts a shift in focus towards serving the needs of users in diverse contexts and environments, rather than just the features and functionality of devices. Gartner foresees that phones and wearable devices will form part of an expanding computing environment (including consumer electronics and connected screens).
And it is not just humans who are getting connected. Many analysts agree that the Internet of Things (IoT) is coming of age, and foresee strong growth in IoT in their predictions. Deloitte forecasts that, in 2015, one billion wireless IoT devices will be shipped, up 60% on 2014, resulting in an installed base of 2.8 billion connected devices by the end of 2015. IDC predicts that IoT spending will exceed USD 1.7 trillion, up 14% from 2014 (and may reach USD 3 trillion by 2020). In contrast to many analysts who foresee a large part of the IoT as comprising wireless sensor networks, IDC sees the “industrial Internet of Things” as a mainly fixed-line phenomenon for the immediate future, forecasting that fixed-line networks are expected to carry over 90% of traffic for the industrial IoT.
Ericsson ConsumerLab’s annual report considers IoT from a consumer’s perspective, suggesting that consumers want technology and connectivity to be integrated into all facets of their daily life. Ericsson also sees 2015 as a pivot point between streamed video and broadcast TV, and predicts that, for the first time, consumers will watch more streamed video than broadcast TV in 2015. PC Mag expects wearables to become “probably” the most popular category in tech in 2015.
“Intelligence” is another widely used word, although opinions differ as to who — or more accurately, what — is becoming more intelligent. For IDC, it is the networks. For others, it is our entire connected environment. For GP Bullhound, a boutique investment bank specializing in technology companies, it is the smart devices in IoT which are becoming more intelligent, thanks to innovation in software and better utilization of data. From GP Bullhound’s point of view, wearable devices (such as Fitbit and Jawbone) have proven helpful in tracking real-world activity and generating data, but they generally require too much input from consumers to make them genuinely “intelligent”. More advanced devices will run always-on, context-aware applications in the background, which will automatically collect data from multiple sources, adapt, learn, update and, in some cases, take action without inputs or guidance from users.
Some commentators take this a step further, suggesting that mobile traffic patterns and network loads are altering in response to network-initiated service requests (as found with smartphones via Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks, for example). Mobile operators may need to review their network architecture, topology, and functionality to carry 4G traffic successfully, while providing good customer experience, and bolstering their profit margins. Two things are certain — innovation and evolution in telecommunication/ICT networks continue at an exciting pace, and no one can get bored watching or working in telecoms!
1 “Forrester Predictions”http://www.forrester.com/Forrester-Predictions-2015/-/E-MPL161?intcmp=mkt:ban:ah:predictions
2 “Top Tech Predictions for 2015”, PC Mag, 29 December 2014, available from: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2474114,00.asp
“Ovum Telecoms, Media and Entertainment Outlook 2015”, available from: http://info.ovum.com/uploads/files/Ovum_Telecoms_Media_and_Entertainment_Outlook_2015.pdf
8 “Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015”, available from Gartner at: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2867917 Information about Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, is available at www.gartner.com/us/symposium. Video replays of keynotes and sessions are available on Gartner Events on Demand at www.gartnerondemand.com.