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Deloitte predicts growth in digital reality; virtual doctor visits here to stay in 2021

Deloitte’s TMT Predictions 2021: - Ireland likely to exceed global growth averages in the cloud market - 5G is an area ripe for growth, but focus on education is needed - Women’s sport is on track for rising monetisation

28 January 2021

Deloitte has released its Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions 2021 report, which highlights how trends in TMT may affect businesses and consumers worldwide and in Ireland in the coming year. The report also highlights how many of these trends are being driven by the global pandemic’s economic and societal impacts, resulting in intensifying growth in video, virtual, and cloud technologies, as well as in media segments such as sports.

Daryl Hanberry, Partner and Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications at Deloitte said: “COVID-19 has been a catalyst—an unwelcome one, but still a catalyst—for needed changes across the TMT landscape. Some of these changes happened extremely quickly. Movements to the cloud and to video visits for medicine were already underway but have been accelerated. Across multiple parts of the technology, media and telecom (TMT) ecosystem, observers have been repeating some version of the comment ‘there have been five years of change in five months due to the pandemic’. We hope that in Ireland, 2021 will see organisations moving towards focusing on thriving in the future rather than responding to the immediate threats caused by the pandemic.”

The cloud migration forecast: Cloudy with a chance of clouds

The report predicts that, with the surge in online consumer activity and digital services as a result of the pandemic, enterprises are accelerating their journey on the cloud, and the market will likely emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.

Ruairí Allen, Consulting Partner, Deloitte said: “The growth we have seen in the cloud market in 2020 has no doubt been accelerated by Covid-19, lockdowns and ‘work-from-anywhere’ having increased demand for new digital services and collaboration tooling. We predict that global revenue growth will remain at or above 2019 levels – that is, greater than 30 percent – for 2021 through 2025, as companies move to cloud to realise efficiencies, become more agile and unlock innovation. We see this global trend reflected in the Irish market – in fact, Ireland is likely to exceed the global growth averages, as enterprises seek to enable business transformation and technical modernisation through the adoption of cloud.”

Cloud providers and others in the ecosystem will have the opportunity to capitalise on increased usage, according to the report, while cloud users can seek to explore new ways for the cloud to create value. Already, cloud has become much more than an alternative computing approach. In the near future cloud technologies may become the dominant solution across all types of businesses.

The 5G health myth gets busted

The report states that concerns about 5G’s health risks have no basis in fact. Deloitte predicts that in 2021, it is very unlikely that the radiation from 5G mobile networks and 5G phones will affect the health of any single individual; but if education about 5G is to be effective in curbing popular fears, it needs to be compelling, consistent and pervasive, and it needs to begin now.

John Kehoe, Audit Partner at Deloitte said: “5G is rolling out at pace, with operators heavily promoting its benefits. It is an area ripe for growth: our Digital Consumer Trends survey, released in November 2020, showed that just 5% of Irish consumers are using 5G, with a further 24% wanting to switch. The same survey, however, identified that 20% of consumers in Ireland are concerned about the perceived health risks associated with 5G.

“While extensive scientific evidence has proven that health concerns around 5G are unfounded, it would appear that the telco industry itself will still need to consider how it communicates with consumers to mitigate these concerns. In Ireland, currently only Vodafone has an FAQ on their 5G webpage addressing health concerns. With 64% of respondents to our Digital Consumer Trends survey stating that they do not know enough about 5G, there is work to be done in Ireland on this front.”

Women’s sports gets down to business: On track for rising monetisation

While the number of sporting events slowed during 2020, the potential for growth ultimately did not. Deloitte predicts that the increased monetisation of women’s sports will continue its upward trajectory.

The ability of women’s sports to generate substantial TV audiences, deliver value to sponsors and draw fans has been demonstrated on multiple occasions over the past decade. For example, the Irish Women’s Hockey Team attracted 40% of Irish TV viewers to watch the team win an historic silver medal in the 2018 World Cup. Their qualification for the Tokyo Olympics will ensure a continued spotlight. Rugby and GAA are other examples of women’s sport with appeal for viewers and brands, while Katie Taylor has paved the way for a generation of female boxers as one of the top sportspeople in the world today.

Hanberry commented: “The challenge in 2021 and beyond will be for women’s sports to pull in substantial TV and live (as permitted) audiences consistently across multiple sports. Then, the value to sponsors will be self-evident, which in turn should raise marketing spend and awareness. But for this to happen, the entire sports industry—spanning federations, leagues, teams, sponsors, and regulators—needs to invest on a sustained basis in creating more opportunities for women’s sports to prove its commercial worth.”

Just as Covid-19 has catalysed fundamental reappraisals of many aspects of society, with more brands recognising the value of investing in female sport, Deloitte predicts that women’s sports will also be perceived, promoted and commercialised in new ways.

Virtual Health Visits go Viral

One impact of Covid-19 has been the global jumpstarting of telemedicine, including video-based clinical consultations. The global pandemic has helped consumers to better understand and leverage video calling apps, especially consumers over the age of 65.

Despite some initial trepidation, the TMT Predictions report illustrates how many clinicians and consumers have been willing to shift to virtual visits, including video visits. Deloitte predicts that the rate of virtual video visits to doctors will rise to 5% globally in 2021, up from an estimated 1% in 2019. Even single-digit growth is significant: 8.5 billion doctor’s visits, worth a total of approximately US$500 billion, took place in the 36 OECD countries in 2019 alone.

In March 2020, a survey for the Irish Medical Council suggested that only 4% of the population had ever used telemedicine (which includes all technology such as video, telephone, websites and apps delivered by a registered medical practitioner to provide healthcare to patients). A similar survey carried out in October 2020 saw that increase five-fold to 21%. While video only makes up a proportion of that interaction (32% of the total), it still demonstrates that Irish consumers and practitioners are adapting to the changing environment.

Suzanne McDonald, Health partner at Deloitte says, “The position in Ireland reflects the global trends. Covid-19 has challenged us all to reconsider the way we engage with the healthcare system. Notwithstanding the challenges in moving from the traditional ‘face to face’ model’ – everyone acknowledges the benefits that telemedicine has provided over the past year. It has played an important role in helping manage spread of the virus, enabling vulnerable individuals to safely access medical care and also providing mechanisms to access HSE COVID-19 testing. The introduction of telemedicine has also supported wider use of eprescribing which brings additional benefits.”

From virtual to reality: Digital reality headsets in enterprise and education

How can a company train its staff to unload hazardous materials, configure a wind turbine, or service a jet engine when a pandemic makes it impossible to teach and learn these skills in person? One way to do it is to use virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) to simulate those environments for workers to practice in. Deloitte predicts that, led by purchases by corporations and educational institutions, global sales for enterprise and educational use of wearable headsets for VR, AR, and MR – collectively known as XR or digital reality and – will grow by 100 percent in 2021 over 2019 levels, as will sales of software and services related to this technology.

Although the predicted growth rate in headsets specifically is off a low base, with fewer than 100,000 VR, AR and MR headsets purchased annually by enterprises and schools from 2015 through 2019, the upward trend is clear. Market growth for these types of headsets has already accelerated in some markets due to the risk of COVID-19 infection driving their use in teaching employees and students virtually rather than in person. With the pandemic accelerating the opportunity to demonstrate their value, digital reality headsets may continue to gain ground after the pandemic ends due to a variety of other benefits, such as lower cost, greater safety, and better learning retention.

Hanberry commented “With Ireland acting as the EMEA home to a significant number of technology companies who are at the forefront of digital reality, we will be at the centre of the any global uptick in demand, while the requirement for hardware such as virtual reality headsets, along with the capital costs, have restricted growth to date, the opportunities for training, education and other social activities remain significant. Adding in the use of AR and VR for remote and dangerous activities, then it’s clear that usage should trend upwards.”


Issued by Murray on behalf of Deloitte Ireland

For Further Information Please Contact

Orna Clarke
01 498 0300
087 677 0360

Fiona MacCarthy
086 825 0027

About TMT Predictions

Deloitte Global’s annual TMT Predictions report provides an outlook on technology, media and telecommunications trends that may disrupt and transform the business and consumer ecosystems worldwide. Visit to learn more.

About Deloitte TMT

The Deloitte Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) industry group brings together one of the world’s largest pools of deep industry experts – respected for helping shape some of the world’s most recognised TMT brands and helping companies of all shapes and sizes thrive in a digital world.

About Deloitte

At Deloitte, we make an impact that matters for our clients, our people, our profession, and in the wider society by delivering the solutions and insights they need to address their most complex business challenges.

As the largest global professional services and consulting network, with over 312,000 professionals in more than 150 countries, we bring world-class capabilities and high-quality services to our clients.

In Ireland, Deloitte has approximately 3,000 people providing audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Our people have the leadership capabilities, experience and insight to collaborate with clients so they can move forward with confidence.

In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte Ireland LLP. The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press. Deloitte Ireland LLP is the Ireland affiliate of Deloitte NSE LLP, a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”). DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL and Deloitte NSE LLP do not provide services to clients. Please see to learn more about our global network of member firms.

Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions 2021 report

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