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Deloitte: Hastened by the Pandemic, Global Enterprises Increase Investments in Advanced Wireless

Businesses around the world are rapidly shifting their focus to 5G, Wi-Fi 6 to accelerate innovation and digital transformation

JAKARTA, 24 March 2021 – Spurred by the realities of the pandemic, global enterprises are turning even more to next-generation wireless technologies such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6 to keep employees, machines and customers connected around the world. By offering significant performance improvements—such as faster speeds, increased coverage, lower latency, greater device density, and precise location sensing—these new wireless technologies are already enabling groundbreaking solutions, such as autonomous vehicles, precision automation and robotics, telemedicine and telesurgery, immersive retail and entertainment experiences, and augmented-reality workplace collaborations.  

To obtain a global perspective on the adoption of advanced wireless solutions, and assess attitudes during the pandemic crisis, Deloitte surveyed networking executives in Q4 2020 from nine countries (China, India, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Brazil, and Australia), representing organizations adopting or planning to adopt 5G and/or Wi-Fi 6. Titled, “Accelerating enterprise innovation and transformation with 5G and Wi-Fi 6, this survey builds on a US study conducted in Q1 2020 of networking executives whose organisations are adopting or planning to adopt 5G and/or Wi-Fi 6.  

Business priorities shifted by the pandemic  

Global networking executives surveyed report that the COVID-19 crisis has spurred their organisation to accelerate investment in wireless networking in order to better address current and future disruptions, as well as create new solutions and offerings.  

  • Half expect to boost their wireless networking investment due to the pandemic, while less than a quarter report pullbacks. 
  • Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed are either running pilots or deploying Wi-Fi 6 solutions, while fifty-eight percent are doing the same with 5G solutions (and often in parallel). 
  • Eighty-one percent of respondents believe the technologies will be very/critically important in three years. 

“A rising sense of urgency, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now accelerating the shift to 5G and Wi-Fi 6 far faster across a variety of industries, with executives now seeing advanced wireless networks as increasingly essential to their business plans,” said Kevin Westcott, Deloitte Global Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment leader. “Those enterprises that are making advanced wireless a critical component of their infrastructure and innovation strategies, versus a discrete consideration or an afterthought, will likely experience tremendous growth potential and, accordingly, position themselves to compete more effectively on the world stage.” 

Advanced wireless foundational to innovation and transformation  

Networking executives expect next-gen wireless to be integral to their business success and transformational for both their enterprises and industries, representing an opportunity to change how they operate, innovate, and sell. In fact, networking executives surveyed view advanced wireless technologies as a foundational necessity for implementing the technologies that will drive digital transformation.  

  • Eight in 10 surveyed believe advanced wireless will transform their organization within three years, and seven in 10 believe it will transform their industry in the same timeframe. 
  • The desire to take advantage of new technologies such as AI, big data analytics, and edge computing is a top driver for advanced wireless adoption (up from #3 in the US study), tied with improving efficiency.  
  • At least eight in 10 view advanced wireless as very/extremely important to their organization’s ability to implement these new technologies.  
  • Seventy-six percent believe their company can create a significant competitive advantage by leveraging advanced wireless. 

“While innovation and digital transformation are desired business outcomes of advanced wireless networking adoption, there are also tremendous advantages for the people running the business – the employees, customers and partners,” says Jack Fritz, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The Deloitte survey found adopters are using 5G and Wi-Fi 6 both inside and outside the office for a variety of reasons, but the enhancement of workplace communication, collaboration and productivity is particularly timely and relevant since connectivity is crucial for remote work and business continuity during a crisis like the current pandemic.” 

A complex, evolving ecosystem  

Deloitte’s survey also found that the ecosystem surrounding advanced wireless technologies is multifaceted, fluid and ever-growing. Adopters are engaging with myriad telecom and technology vendors and often with multiple vendors of each type.  

  • On average, advanced wireless adopters engage with about eight of nine vendor types, including application and cloud providers, wireless carriers, consultants and integrators, equipment manufacturers, and infrastructure providers.  
  • Two-thirds of adopters prefer to purchase at least some best-of-breed components, and many are likely to seek help with integration.  
  • Seven in 10 adopters indicate they’re open to exploring new vendor relationships. 

Developments in Southeast Asia

The Philippines, Thailand and Singapore are witnessing 5G rollout, having launched 5G commercial licenses in their respective markets in 2019 and 2020. Malaysia is following suit with the announcement of a National Digital Infrastructure Plan (JENDELA) to transition towards one public 5G network by the end of 2021. Timelines for Indonesia and Vietnam remain uncertain, though Vietnam granted commercial test licenses in 2020.

In addition to this survey, Deloitte sought the view of selected networking executives in the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore whose organisations are adopting or planning to adopt 5G and/or Wi-Fi 6 their local markets.

The discussions show that there is significant interest in areas such as real-time video analytics, enhanced streaming, asset management and fixed wireless access (high bandwidth, low latency, low power consumption and the ability to connect millions of 5G sensors).

It is clear that 5G connectivity, bundled with solutions and applications, unlocks a wide range of value-enhancing enterprise use cases across industry verticals. However, the adoption and interest in these use cases vary in each market. In the Philippines, manufacturing, government (for example smart cities, utilities, and intelligent traffic management) and transportation sectors are most eager to test 5G applications. In Thailand, the 5G excitement is more pronounced in the manufacturing, large infrastructure development, and agriculture sectors. In Singapore, banks, ports, and manufacturing are exploring ways to innovate by leveraging 5G.

Expectations of value from 5G also differ among verticals. Manufacturing firms expect to ride on 5G to accelerate their Industry 4.0 plans by lowering cost and enabling faster decision making, while banks, hospitals, and retail companies are more focused on improving customer experience and generating additional revenue streams, in addition to operational efficiency.

Enterprise networking is becoming increasingly important for CIOs and CTOs as companies in the region begin to leverage on data, AI and other emerging technologies – a trend bolstered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Network infrastructure moves decision-making closer to the data source, enabling existing software, apps and other analytics tools. For instance, an organisation in the energy sector working on an existing plant maintenance system can enable real-time data collection and analysis from numerous machines through the 5G network,” says Piyush Jain, Executive Director, Deloitte Consulting Southeast Asia. “Over the years, each generational advancement in wireless connectivity introduced new market entrants that disrupted traditional players and captured the bulk of incremental value creation. If history is a guide, 5G is poised to shake up the wireless ecosystem, and industry participants should consider how they can capture and offer value in this new reality.”

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© 2021 Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd

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