Tech to transform 2019
5G: The new network arrives
Make no mistake: fifth-generation (5G) network technology is the connectivity of the future. Though it’s likely to take years for 5G to replicate 4G’s marketplace dominance, many telecommunications operators have a strong incentive to jump on the 5G bandwagon for reasons of speed, latency, penetration, and especially capacity.
Deloitte Global predicts that 2019 will be the year in which 5G wide-area wireless networks arrive at scale. A total of 72 operators were testing 5G in 2018 and, by the end of 2019, we expect 25 operators to have launched 5G service in at least part of their territories (usually cities), with another 26 operators launching in 2020. We also expect about 20 handset vendors to launch 5G-ready smartphones in 2019 (with the first available in Q2), and about 1 million 5G handsets (out of a projected 1.5 billion sold in 2019) to ship by year’s end, another million 5G modems to be sold.
Our predictions here might seem unusually conservative. But we see no reason to doubt that the first years of 5G will look almost exactly like those of 4G (2009–10). And 5G usage will spread faster than did 3G, which launched in 1998 and took time to gain widespread acceptance.
Three major 5G applications are likely to be of most interest to network users (whether enterprise or consumer), along with issues relevant for network operators.
3D printing growth accelerates again
Like many new technologies, 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) was heavily hyped in its early days. By 2014, the industry was posting revenues exceeding US$2 billion, up from less than US$1 billion in 2009, but revenue growth in 2015 and 2016 slowed to ‘only’ about 5% per year. Now, Deloitte Global predicts that sales related to 3D printing by large public companies—including enterprise 3D printers, materials, and services—will surpass US$2.7 billion in 2019 and US$3 billion in 2020. This area of the industry is poised to grow at approximately 12.5 percent in each of those years, more than double its growth rate just a few years ago.
Today, 3D printers are used for more than just rapid prototyping. They’re capable of printing a greater variety of materials (for example, more metal and less plastic); they print objects faster than they used to; and they can print larger objects (greater build volume). To use 3D printing at an industrial scale, organizations will need to manage a series of complicated, connected, and data-driven events. One of the keys to optimizing production capability is a single strand of data stretching from initial design to finished part, which Deloitte calls the “digital thread for additive manufacturing,” or DTAM.
Quantum computers: The next supercomputers, but not the next laptops
Quantum computing seems to have been hovering on the horizon for years, if not decades. However, there’s good news for those tired of waiting. The discipline is poised to celebrate an important milestone: the achievement of “quantum supremacy.” When that happens, what will change?
The pragmatic answer is not much, at least not at first. While quantum supremacy marks a conceptual turning point, in the near term, quantum computers will remain difficult to build, awkward to house, and challenging to program—not ready for the commercial market any time soon. But progress in the domain continues (albeit in fits and starts), and quantum computing holds a great deal of scientific and economic promise.
Deloitte Global is making these predictions about quantum computing for 2019 and beyond:
- Quantum computers will not replace classical computers for decades, if ever.
- The quantum computer market of the future will be about the same size as the supercomputer market—approximately $50 billion per year.
- The first commercial general-purpose quantum computers will likely appear in the 2030s.
- By the 2020s, the Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (NISQ) computing market—using what could be considered early-stage quantum computers—will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
- At the same time, the quantum-safe security industry is also likely to earn hundreds of millions each year.
The report concludes with six steps that organizations and governments can take now to capitalize on and protect themselves in—the coming quantum world.