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Eight critical issues for TMT companies to address in 2021

Exploring key business trends and actions to build a new future

Which strategy, customer, technology and workforce-related issues will demand TMT leaders’ attention in 2021? Deloitte’s outlooks offer some guidance.

Technology, media & entertainment and telecom (TMT) companies will likely feel aftershocks from the dramatic disruptions in 2020 for years to come in both expected and unforeseen ways. Some industries have prospered by providing the increasingly crucial infrastructure and services connecting our homes to the rest of the world. Other industries have suffered as consumer behaviours shifted and sources of revenue were taken off the table. The last 12 months have also offered opportunities for many TMT leaders—by choice or otherwise—to reassess and reflect on the role that they play in society beyond the bottom line.

But no matter the sector, TMT companies have seen their forecasts repeatedly upended over the last year, with horizons getting ever shorter. But longer-term views are as valuable as ever and to that end, Deloitte’s industry leaders recently published outlooks for 2021 for TechnologyTelecom, Media, and Entertainment, and Sports. These viewpoints cover key issues and actions for companies as they look to continue their recovery and thrive in the coming years. By looking at the three outlooks as one and exploring common issues, we can create a more complete view.

The following are key strategy, customer, technology and workforce-related issues that are expected to demand TMT leaders’ attention in 2021:

Rethinking business’s role in society. Of course, social responsibility and justice issues transcend business. But polls suggest that people trust companies as much or more than other societal institutions and recent events have made it clear that industries possess platforms capable of fueling significant change.1 TMT companies have become some of the largest in the world and are uniquely capable of taking meaningful action. TMT leaders should consider definitive steps in the coming year as they seek to create a stronger, better world.

Reshaping revenue-generation models. With the pandemic cutting off many traditional revenue streams virtually overnight (like movie theaters and live entertainment), many companies and industries are still grappling with how to fill the void. TMT leaders should consider a broad range of potential solutions, including expanding the monetisation of data, shifting to remote experiences and new and unique partnerships across industries.

Redefining relationships with customers. TMT companies should look to become more nuanced in their customer engagement and place more focus on meeting changing customer needs—whether they are serving consumers directly or other businesses. There should be a strong push toward continuous, multichannel, two-way, integrated, digital engagement.

Remixing experiences. The pandemic has accelerated consumers’ willingness to experiment, and new needs and behaviours have emerged. Hard lines—for instance, between work- and home-based customers—are increasingly blurring. The coevolution of commerce, entertainment and technology is helping fuel new service offerings and opportunities for consumers, necessitating new strategies and agile approaches. Examples include the rise of home CIOs, group watching streaming movies, interactive home fitness, and the blending of live sports and e-sports.

Redoubling digital transformation efforts. Facing new pressures and constraints, companies are working to improve their agility and flexibility, increase automation and move to more real-time operations. Accelerating digital transformation efforts will likely take a rededication to improving cloud infrastructure, data and analytics capabilities, and cybersecurity. It will also likely require a renewed focus on business model transformation and ecosystem development.

Reexamining manufacturing. The disruption caused by the pandemic has laid bare vulnerabilities in many companies’ supply networks. Some have had difficulty meeting demand due to an inability to secure critical components; others have struggled to gain visibility into their networks, preventing them from becoming more agile. Companies should look to improve transparency, flexibility and resiliency while reducing environmental impact.

Repositioning approaches to advanced connectivity. Although consumer and enterprise adoption of advanced wireless technologies like 5G is still nascent, the shift to next-generation networking is undeniably underway. The key is to determine how companies can leverage these new technologies to create new products, services and business models that drive revenue growth. For technology companies, this could include improving manufacturing and supply networks. For media and entertainment companies, new capabilities from better stadium and venue connectivity.

Reorienting and reskilling the workforce. Workforces have been beset with multiple recent shifts and challenges, redefining how people interact and how work gets done. Companies have been increasingly leveraging remote work capabilities and automation, and employees will likely need more support and development opportunities. In these times of rapid change and technological acceleration, continuous learning and reskilling are key to improving adaptability.

Implications for TMT executives

To take full advantage of this chance to reevaluate business models and build a new future for business and society, explore the following:

  • Focus on agility and flexibility. Reevaluate your businesses, customers, talent and infrastructure to make them leaner and more adaptive in an increasingly dynamic and competitive landscape. For technology companies this could include approaches to product development, manufacturing and supply networks. For media and entertainment companies this applies to content development and distribution and customer relationship management.
  • Be bold and willing to try new things. Many TMT companies have hit the accelerator on strategic initiatives during the pandemic (for example, increasing acquisitions, pivoting to streaming video, reinventing supply networks); they have also taken strong stands and launched new initiatives around societal issues. Consider new ways to rapidly prototype and test innovations—to probe for opportunities while minimising risks.
  • Acquire the necessary digital capabilities. The right technologies and integration strategies are needed to unlock innovative revenue generation possibilities, new ways to engage with customers, improve virtual working environments and upgraded supply chains. This includes investments in cloud, AI, cybersecurity, advanced connectivity and remote work capabilities. All of these can potentially reduce operational costs while supporting greater value for customers.


Technology, Media & Telecommunications

Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) industry practice brings together one of the world’s largest group of specialists respected for helping shape many of the world’s most recognised TMT brands—and helping those brands thrive in a digital world.

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Cover image by: Viktor Koen

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