Digital Transformation

Mary Meeker's 2018 internet trends report: 5 things business pros need to know

The annual report focused on topics like mobile payments, AI, and tech's impact on the economy

On Wednesday, KPCB partner Mary Meeker released her 2018 Internet Trends report—a 294-slide presentation examining the global impact of the internet on the economy, and how it is changing the daily lives of users.

While the report is focused heavily on the consumer side of tech, there are some key trends that impact the business world. Technology companies represent 25% of the overall US market cap, and that number is growing, as noted on slide 39. Additionally, six of the top 15 CapEx and R&D spenders in the US are tech companies, the report found.

As technology continues to impact the US and world economies, certain aspects of the field will be especially important for business professionals to keep up with. Here are five of the most important things in Meeker's report for professionals to take note of.

SEE: IT leader's guide to achieving digital transformation (Tech Pro Research)

1. Internet is impacting, disrupting jobs

Technology disruption is nothing new in the workplace, but the pace at which it is happening is accelerating, as noted on slide 142 of the report. The rapid adoption of the internet coupled with massive growth in storage and compute power is rapidly shifting day-to-day work in every industry.

Technology also makes it easier for freelance workers to find jobs, and freelance work is growing at a faster pace than traditional work. On-demand workers are in high demand, and are growing in number. Immigration is also essential for creating new tech jobs, as 56% of the highest-valued tech firms were founded by first or second generation Americans, as noted on slide 289.

2. Consumers keep moving to mobile

While this may sound like a broken record, customers keep moving to mobile, and they don't seem to be slowing down. Mobile shopping and mobile payment apps are providing better online and in-store experiences, and many services—including mobile app-based ones— are shifting from one-time purchases to subscription models. Mobile shopping apps alone have experience 6% year-over-year growth, the report noted. The next generation of retail includes mobile technology and in-store retail, furthering the omnichannel ideal some companies are striving for.

3. AI everywhere

Artificial intelligence (AI) platforms are growing in prominence, brought to light by cloud leaders such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This includes hardware tools for GPU acceleration, and APIs for features such as natural language processing and computer vision.

Based on a Morgan Stanley CIO survey cited in Meeker's report, AI isn't an enormous priority for increased spend, but it is "rapidly rising." Meeker quoted Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who said that "AI is one of the most important things that humanity is working on." The US and China are the two biggest players in AI right now, according to the report.

4. The privacy paradox

One of the most poignant points that Meeker noted was the rise of the "privacy paradox," wherein internet giants are using personal data to make services better and cheaper, increasing both user engagement and regulatory scrutiny.

Following the Cambridge Analytica controversy at Facebook and the advent of GDPR, companies have to walk a fine line between personalizing their products and services and remaining in good favor with consumers, watchdog groups, and regulators. Companies must understand the unintended consequences of their products, and regulators must understand the unintended consequences of regulations, Meeker said in the report.

5. Enterprise messaging improves productivity, collaboration

Consumerization has reshaped what enterprises expect from their tech tools, with Dropbox and Slack being two of the best examples, Meeker noted in the report.

One particular aspect of consumer products that is also exploding in the enterprise is messaging threads. These threads help organize information and the teams that need it, while also providing context and history, Meeker's report said. Tools like Slack can shorten the onboarding process, eliminate many email conversations, and help development teams get to market faster than before.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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