TMT Predictions 2018: Southeast Asia edition


TMT Predictions 2018

Southeast Asia Edition

See what the future holds for technology, media and telecommunications.

We live in a time of relentless change yet stubborn continuity.

The technology, media and telecommunications sectors remain as fascinating as ever in 2018. Many milestones will be reached this year. Progress will be exponential in some fields. But in other areas the way in which we live and work may shift imperceptibly.

Technology’s progress can seem daunting at times: reports of technological advances’ negative impacts abound, disseminated at the speed of light by ever faster networks. Machines are perceived by some as threats to the human race: they are stronger, faster, more responsive and even better at playing board games. Are our jobs and very way of life at stake or is this the start of one of the greatest enhancements to the human experience?

Machine learning (ML), a core element of artificial intelligence, will progress at a phenomenal pace this year. But this will be from a low base. As impressive as it is today, in 50 years’ time the ML abilities of 2018 will be considered baby steps in the history of this technology.

Over the coming year, ML will become more commonly deployed in enterprises, but will remain far from ubiquitous. Almost every high-end smartphone will have a machine learning chip, but those chips will not yet be fully utilized. Nearly a million ML chips will be installed in data centers, but this quantity will seem small within a decade. ML is being deployed to make existing technology work better and augment services for customers, but in 2018 almost none of it is replacing human labor.

Indeed, technology remains a human creation with (for better and worse) human traits – the point at which it attains autonomy from human control is far away. Sentient machines still only exist within science fiction, at present. Technology is leaping forward, but humans hold the reins. It is being applied for the betterment of people, not their belittling.

Technology empowers people to consume content where, when and with (or without) whom they want. Despite this technology-given capability, people will choose to spend over half a trillion dollars in 2018 on consuming content live, often with other people and not on-demand.

People are using digital to augment their live experience – be this in buying and distributing tickets via their smartphones, or streaming events on ever faster mobile networks. And the pace and reach of those networks is likely to get steadily faster. The majority of voice calls have already moved to mobile networks. Now it is the turn of home broadband, thanks to the ever falling cost per gigabyte of data carried.

Communicating at 35,000 feet has historically been a niche service, constrained by bandwidth and cost, often funded by expense accounts. But a rise in the supply of connectivity is likely to democratize in-flight connectivity, spurring a surge of selfies from 35,000 feet. Most successful technologies – from the radio to the eReader, from the steam engine to the fitness band – undergo a period of rapid progression before reaching an inexorable plateau.

In 2017, the smartphone had its tenth birthday. On this occasion many smartphones looked as they did on their prior anniversary. This has raised the question as to whether the smartphone’s zenith had already been reached.

Superficially the smartphone is unlikely to change markedly in 2018, or indeed through 2023. But on the inside, it is likely going to continue to undergo a massive sequence of upgrades that will steadily widen the device’s capability, in 2018 and for years to come. Companies that understand best how to harness these invisible innovations are likely to profit most from forthcoming innovations – for example, via ever more compelling augmented reality on smartphones.

The smartphone is likely to be used by more people, with increasing frequency, and for a wider scope of activities, spanning the practical, informative and entertaining. This trend may well raise the question of whether smartphone usage is excessive: the reality is that the smartphone, like any technology, is a tool whose appropriate usage will be determined by society and individuals.

For this edition, Deloitte Southeast Asia’s TMT practice has once again included its “Southeast Asia perspectives” with a number of the global TMT predictions. These sections offer some insight into how the global developments may take a different course or growth trajectory within the region due to its unique idiosyncrasies.

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