2021 predictions for the technology, media, and telecoms industry by GlobalData

Feb 16, 2021

Companies who invest in the right themes become success stories, while those who miss the big themes end up as failures, notes GlobalData. Therefore, the leading data and analytics company has revealed its predictions for 2021 across the technology, media, and telecoms (TMT) industry, looking at themes such as artificial intelligence (AI), sustainability, gaming and ⁠— of course ⁠— COVID-19.

The company’s latest thematic research report, ‘TMT Predictions 2021’ offers a series of predictions for the top 30 themes impacting the TMT sector this year, identifying the likely winners and losers. Some predictions include that 5G will not realize its potential in 2021; public appetite for electric vehicles is past the point of no return, social media will prosper ⁠— despite regulation; and self-regulation of misinformation will not be enough to appease regulators.

Cyrus Mewawalla, Head of Thematic Research at GlobalData, comments: “There was no bigger theme than COVID-19 in 2020, and its impact will continue in 2021.  “Although life will begin to resemble its pre-pandemic normal state by Q3 of 2021, life after COVID will not be the same as it was before. Digitalization will continue to accelerate, and flexibility will be key for those companies who survive.”

GlobalData higlights some other key themes impacting 2021, alongside some notable predictions:


GlobalData forecasts that the market for AI platforms will reach $52bn in 2024, up from $29bn in 2019. AI is one of the most hyped technologies, with reality often falling short of vendors’ world-altering promises. However, 2021 will be less about making bold statements and more about delivering tangible benefits. COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for AI adoption, and, with further disruptions expected in 2021, the importance of AI in the workplace will grow.


Sustainability will be a key theme in 2021. The new Biden administration is likely to help drive a new global benchmark for environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Both the public and private sectors must confront issues of fair governance, unfair hiring practices and climate change in the wake of the pandemic crisis and the summer of Black Lives Matter protests.


In 2021, regulators will come after big tech in three main areas: antitrust, misinformation and data privacy. Unprecedented Chinese antitrust guidelines signal global scrutiny of big tech, marking the end of the light-touch era. Regulators and governments don’t agree on how to handle misinformation, but there has never been broader consensus that something has to be done. In 2021, renewed data privacy regulations will plague Big Tech, with further fines imposed under GDPR in Europe and the new Biden administration keen to push for a data privacy federal law in the US.


The future is digital and flexible, with COVID-19 accelerating the use of automation and remote working for those companies that can adopt this hybrid home/office working culture. Codifiable, routine and manual occupations requiring in-person work had already been experiencing a steep decline in the decades before 2020, and this will continue into 2021.


The cloud gaming gold-rush will certainly intensify in 2021. With the userbase growing 78% from 13 million in 2020 to 24 million in 2021 - and exceeding 100 million by 2024. A company’s success in this theme will require 5G network availability, attractive games libraries and reasonable pricing. The pressure is now on Apple to join the revolution.

Online events will be the norm as COVID-19 lingers, benefitting streaming platforms, which will profit from increased advertising spend. From niche subculture to the mainstream, esports and cloud gaming will revolutionize the gaming industry.


The private sector will look beyond the confines of Earth for its technological ambitions, as well as for the answer to improve sustainability. Most of the industry’s growth will come from low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites intended to improve global connectivity. Satellite imaging will be essential for tackling the climate crisis - such as monitoring greenhouse-gas emissions and improving access to renewable energy.

Information based on GlobalData’s report: TMT Predictions 2021


4,000 of the world’s largest companies, including over 70% of FTSE 100 and 60% of Fortune 100 companies, make more timely and better business decisions thanks to GlobalData’s unique data, expert analysis and innovative solutions, all in one platform. GlobalData’s mission is to help our clients decode the future to be more successful and innovative across a range of industries, including the healthcare, consumer, retail, financial, technology and professional services sectors.