Internet trends

Mary Meeker Internet Trends 2019

Mary Meeker’s annual report on internet trends has been a must read for technologists since 1995. She’s often backed the winning horse, including Spotify, DocuSign, Airbnb, Slack and more, gaining an immaculate reputation while at Morgan Stanley, Kleiner Perkins and Bond Capital.

In 2019, her tech trends are particularly exciting in understanding the global environment for start-ups, as resources and touch points become democratised.  While large corporates and start-ups may react differently to the trends which Meeker notes, there’s always something to be learnt from one another about how to operate in challenging and constantly evolving environment.

Internet Trends 2019

Below we’ve picked out some of the top insights from the Meeker report that relate to the start-up world and the online sports betting and gaming industry.

We Produce and Consume More Data than Ever

Internet penetration, data creation and data consumption are at the highest rate in history. Internet penetration now sits at 51%, more than half of the global population, compared to just 24% in 2009. Extra bandwidth, lower latency and improved device processing power has brought more of the world online, producing and consuming data for companies to analyse.

This jump in activity has created huge datasets that can be used for customer insights, supporting the growth of machine learning and automation. This is a great opportunity for start-ups, who seek to leverage these insights to inform key decisions in their business from the outset, and build algorithms that help them scale quickly and efficiently.

Furthermore, the data being produced, consumed and shared is increasingly richer media, supported by improved smartphone capability, cellular data use and Wi-Fi reach. Over 50% of Twitter impressions in 2019 contain rich media (images, video, etc). With the continuation of this trend, we can expect the arrival of 5G bandwidth to support more rich media in the future, allowing great opportunity for creativity when thinking about user experience, customer engagement and community building.

See our full post on Future Mobile Trends

The Cost of Online Advertising Has Increased

What Meeker notices about online advertising is that it’s becoming an ever more expensive activity, along with customer acquisition. This trend should be viewed as an opportunity as opposed to a challenge for start-ups. Although higher advertising cost might seem like a rising barrier to entry in the market, it really reflects the quality and precision of algorithms used in programmatic online advertising.

Prices may be going up, but value is getting better too. As targeting improves with the help of machine learning, the marketplace has become more competitive. But what does this mean for emerging start-ups? It’s absolutely an opportunity for success, with a chance at personalisation and customer insights with accuracy never seen before. Starting up in this competitive acquisition market is a chance to have a polished set of algorithms for advertising from day one, which can be an advantage over large firms, struggling to shake the older, less scientific ways.

AI, Personalisation and Cloud Create Opportunities

Many of the trends we see in the internet today are enabled by AI and cloud technologies. As AI progresses, we now enter a time when computers overtake humans in collecting, analysing and utilising data. Advanced AI contributes to accurate personalisation in customer experiences, and when it’s good, the consumer is often happy to offer up their personal data for it.

Meeker notes that 83% of consumers are willing to passively share data in exchange for personalised experiences, and 74% will actively share data for it.

Artificial intelligence, and customer willingness to feed it, will drive even more automation and deliver new levels of efficiency in personalisation. It is now up to humans to keep up with machines, and not the other way around. In the future, machine learning will be integral to strategy.

Cloud technology holds more data than ever before. 22% of enterprise workloads currently reside in the cloud. In fact, Meeker points out that revenue for Amazon, Microsoft and Google’s cloud deployment has seen a 58% revenue increase since 2018. Use of cloud, in the right circumstances, can increase flexibility, fluidly scale capacity, hasten deployment to certain environments, facilitate greater global collaboration and allow for cost reduction. This is an exciting prospect for start-ups, as barriers to entry and to scale are lowered.

Privacy and Security Take Centre Stage

Meeker points to the increasing obsession that customers, businesses and governments have with security. This comes in many forms. On a national scale, we see more and more geopolitical attacks on data.

The unforgettable case of the NHS and the WannaCry ransom attack in 2017 displayed the scale at which an attack can affect the users of a system. With cancelled operations, diverted ambulances and frozen medical records, the attack gave the public due cause to have anxiety and paranoia surrounding the safety of sensitive data.

This feeling trickles through to customer behaviour and subsequently influences how enterprises react. Take Apple, for example. In their annual Web Developer Conference this year, plans were announced for updates arriving with iOS 13, with a key focus on privacy and permissions. Features include single sign-on with Face ID, asking the user more frequently for location permissions and encryption of video footage.

Although these features don’t tackle geopolitical attacks or protect against data breaches at scale, they make the customer feel safer. By making it obvious to customers that their personal data is taken seriously, a company can improve the quantity and quality of data that their customers trust them with.

Apple’s move positions them well to enter more sensitive markets, such as credit and health. Moreover, as the world becomes increasingly polarised and anxious, there’s value in indicating to customers whose side you’re on. For start-ups, privacy and security are reassurances worth buying into.

How Work Continues to Evolve

The way we work is taking on an entirely new face as the internet age matures. Flexibility in the workplace has turned employee privileges into expectations. Meeker refers to ‘internet enabled benefits’, which underpin this flexible world we work in.

For example, collaboration tools like Slack and Zoom allow working parents, rural dwellers and those inflicted with wanderlust to find a meaningful work life balance.

For start-ups, this is an environment with endless benefits. Keeping lean just got easier, with less need for excessive upfront office space cost, less restrictions on talent pool and a happier, healthier staff. Work is becoming less like something people compartmentalise as a chore, but rather knit into their lives in a way that really fits.

What Do Meeker’s Trends Indicate for Start-Ups?

Meeker’s trends are good news for start-ups. In various ways, they all contribute to lowering of barriers to entry in the market and the democratisation of resources. More and more data in the world has created a competitive environment for personalisation algorithms and advertising, but start-ups and can leverage real value from the accuracy of these tools. The potential for a perfect first impression is better than ever.

To further improve machine learning, start-ups can exhibit an immaculate reputation for privacy and security with customer data. With a greater feeling of safety, the consumer is happy to trade data for a personalised product or improved offering.

While Meeker’s customer-focused trends are pertinent for start-ups, so too are those centred around workers. Between “internet-enabled benefits” like remote and flexible working, and resources such as cloud computing, there is ample room for creativity in the ways in which a start-up can scale and grow.

Meeker’s trends also point towards an increasingly dynamic relationship between start-ups and corporates. Big Tech have shown leadership in many of the trends outlined. For example, being a first mover in addressing privacy concerns has allowed Apple to be a front runner in entering delicate markets such as health and payments. But corporates have a lot to learn from start-ups too, such as a lean, competitive attitude in increasingly competitive markets like online advertising, and the financial and personal benefits of remote working.

The workplace is becoming more fluid and accessible, customer analytics extremely refined and data production and consumption hitting new highs, feeding transformative technologies such as machine learning.

For start-ups and larger firms alike, the challenge will be to anticipate these future technology trends, and seize the opportunities they create.

Watch Mary Meeker present the full set of Internet Trends here:

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