Deloitte’s recently-released edition of its “Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions,” is a highly regarded annual report on the innovations most likely to make an impact on business and society in the year ahead.

“Many services and products that have been ‘just around the corner’ for years are finally turning that corner in 2020,” says Mark Joseph, TMT Leader, Deloitte Africa. “Many previously hyped services and products will finally become a reality.”

According to the report, this is the year we will start to see a canopy effect where industry players will work more closely together as individual technologies like edge AI chips, robots and private 5G become better connected, and promising innovations like low-earth orbit satellites gain traction.

“This year’s predictions are a helpful guide for TMT business leaders to break through the clutter and understand what to do next in order to be successful in 2020 and beyond,” Joseph says. Here, he shares some highlights of the global report that are most likely to have an impact on African businesses and consumers.

Low-earth orbit satellites soar: By the end of 2020, there will be over 700 satellites in low-earth orbit (LEO) seeking to offer global broadband internet, up from roughly 200 at the end of 2019. These new “mega-constellations” of orbiting broadband stations will potentially add more than 16,000 individual satellites to that count over the coming years.

Joseph believes they will bring huge benefits to Africa, where vast distances are still a barrier to the rollout of more traditional land-based internet provision. “These satellites may also play a role in currently well served areas, offering welcome redundancy in the case of load shedding, equipment theft and undersea cable outages.”

AI has the edge: A new generation of edge artificial intelligence (AI) chips will reduce frustrations caused by lack of internet connection on smartphones by bringing AI to the device.

Deloitte predicts that in 2020, more than 750 million edge AI chips – chips or parts of chips that perform or accelerate machine learning tasks on-device, rather than in a remote data center – will be sold, and that the edge AI chip market will continue to grow much more quickly than the overall chip market.

Private 5G – Enterprise untethered: Deloitte predicts that more than 100 companies worldwide will begin testing private 5G deployments by the end of 2020, collectively investing a few hundred million dollars in labor and equipment.

For many of the world’s largest businesses, including many in Africa, private 5G will likely become the preferred choice, especially for industrial environments such as manufacturing plants, logistics centers and ports.

Ear candy: In 2020, the global audiobook market will grow by 25 percent to US$5 billion and the global podcasting market will increase by 30 percent from 2019 to reach US$1.1 billion in 2020, surpassing the US$1 billion mark for the first time.

Joseph believes that this will also be a marked trend in South Africa and other countries on the continent as time-poor consumers seek to squeeze more value out of long commute times and other opportunities to educate and entertain themselves while on the move.

More insight from Deloitte’s 2020 TMT predictions:

  • A smarter smartphone: The smartphone multiplier market (hardware, content, services) will drive US$459 billion of revenue in 2020 alone and will grow between five to 10 percent annually through 2023, lifted by continued robust growth in its largest components. This means that in 2023, the smartphone multiplier market is likely to generate revenues of more than a half-trillion dollars per year.
  • The workhorse of the internet: Deloitte also predicts the global Content Delivery Network (CDN) market will reach US$14 billion in 2020, up more than 25 percent from 2019’s estimated US$11 billion. The market will double to US$30 billion by 2025, a compound annual growth rate of more than 16 percent.
  • Roll to work: Tens of billions of additional bicycle trips per year will take place in 2022. The increase in bicycling will double the number of regular bicycle users in many major cities around the world where cycling to work is still uncommon. Deloitte predicts a 1 percentage point rise in the proportion of people who bike to work during the three years from 2019 to 2022. Between 2020 and 2023, more than 130 million e-bikes (using all battery technologies) are expected to be sold.
  • Meet your new colleague, a robot: Of the almost one million robots Deloitte expects to be sold for enterprise use in 2020, just over half of them will be professional service robots, generating more than US$16 billion in revenue—30 percent more than in 2019. Professional service robots will pass industrial robots in terms of units in 2020 and revenue in 2021.
  • Can I have an ad with my content? Deloitte predicts that global revenue from ad-supported video services will reach an estimated US$32 billion in 2020. Asia, including China and India, will lead with US$15.5 billion in revenue in 2020, nearly half of the global total. In China, India, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region, ad-supported video is the dominant model of delivering streaming video to consumers. By contrast, in the United States, most direct-to-consumer video offerings are pursuing an ad-free subscription model.

Now in its 19th year, Deloitte’s annual TMT Predictions provides an outlook on key trends in the technology, media and telecommunications industry sectors worldwide. Visit to learn more and connect with us on Twitter: @DeloitteTMT and #DeloittePredicts.

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