According to Deloitte, after over a year in pandemic, the average U.S. household now has a total of 25 connected devices, including laptops, tablets, smartphones, video streaming devices, smart TVs, connected exercise machines and gaming consoles.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the overwhelming amount of devices was largely due to a shift in the need for digital connectivity at home. In fact, Deloitte’s survey found that at the start of 2021, 55 percent of U.S. households included someone working from home and 43 percent had someone participating in school from home. The shifting productivity into the home, authors of the report noted, served not only to create a feeling of safety and comfort for Americans but has exposed some of the limits of current technology and connectivity solutions.
“The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was like a time machine that suddenly propelled us tens of years into the future,” said Paul Silverglate, vice chairman at Deloitte LLP and U.S. technology sector leader. “It has changed how we interact with our connected devices, ultimately helping consumers, health care providers, education professionals, technology innovators and others adapt, innovate and thrive in our daily lives. Our survey showed that the underlying technology for these new behaviors was truly tested and, for the most part, held up under increased connectivity demands. As well as we have adapted, we hit the limits of what our current technology can deliver. We are excited to see how faster connections, better devices, and new apps change how we live, work and play in the future.”
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As consumers continued to push the limits of connectivity over the last year, many consumer behaviors are expected to continue. For example, half of U.S. adults told the company they had virtual doctor visits with 82 percent of those respondents claiming they were satisfied with the experience.
“The pandemic was a giant beta test of behaviors that broke down barriers, removed distance and prioritized health and wellness,” said Jana Arbanas, vice chairman at Deloitte LLP and U.S. telecom, media and entertainment sector leader. “Our survey revealed that people are willing to adopt new products and services even while adjusting to challenging circumstances in trying times. This adaption and need for inventive technology are placing more pressure on companies to innovate even faster. As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, this innovation should focus around the essential elements of daily life to help people thrive in their crowded homes — underscoring the simple fact that technology and invention, ideally, is about supporting human needs.”
Top benefits of at-home behaviors, like working at home or schooling from home, were revealed as the ability to reduce the chances of getting COVID-19, closely followed by having no commute and being more comfortable. However, 28 percent of home workers and 32 percent of students said they had struggled to connect to the internet from certain locations in their homes. Among respondents planning to switch mobile providers in the next year, the top reason is to access a 5G service. Since the pandemic began, 19 percent of those with home internet said they had upgraded to a higher-speed internet service and 8 percent switch providers.
Other challenges reported by workers at home included the inability to meet face-to-face with colleagues or clients as a top challenge, followed by working longer hours than they would have in-person and being distracted by non-work activities.
At the same time, Deloitte’s report said smartphones have led to smart behaviors. In fact, 70 percent of consumers who began smartphone-based retail behaviors, including mobile ordering, say they intend to continue to do so. Contactless payments also saw a jump from 28 percent to 46 percent during the pandemic and using mobile payments to shop on social media increased from 28 percent to 42 percent.
“With reduced movement outside the home during the pandemic,” authors of the report said, “it’s not yet clear how well existing smartphones and mobile connectivity will serve post-pandemic behaviors.”
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