Mary Meeker is the Queen of the Internet—at least according to Barron’s. For the uninitiated, Meeker is a luminary analyst who’s been releasing a slide deck of internet trends annually since 1995.
The 2019 Internet Trends report is definitely not your grandma’s PowerPoint presentation. It’s 333 interactive pages of infographics and insights concerning how consumers and digital technologies are developing worldwide.
Meeker’s 2019 report has a lot of useful information for tech leaders. Global consumer behaviors continue to evolve, and the business world will feel the reverberations in the upcoming years. Below, we’ve identified a few overarching trends for IT pros from the report.
1. Digital innovation goes global
There are now 3.8 billion active internet users worldwide, but internet adoption trends in the U.S. aren’t what you should be watching. Globally, adoption is growing the fastest in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The U.S. is currently the third-largest market, but the greatest potential for adoption lies in Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines.
You can anticipate that American tech related to eCommerce, social, and apps will have a diminishing global influence in the years to come. Simultaneously, Chinese tech companies are experiencing explosive growth. IT leaders should take a global view of innovative trends for inspiration on the home front. For instance, China’s Pinduoduo is setting the bar for group eCommerce buying, while Latin America’s Rappi platform is driving home delivery.
2. People are pickier than ever
People are addicted to their smartphones, but they’re not exactly happy about it. Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults are trying to spend less time on their personal smartphones, compared to just 43 percent in 2018.
Social media adoption is also slowing way down, experiencing just 1 percent growth. Just two years ago, that figure was 12 percent. YouTube is still the ruler of video content, and podcast listening rates have more than tripled in the past decade. Even as people try to cut back on smartphone usage, visual content sharing and audio content consumption are growing quickly.
Digital overload has created a demand for platforms that simplify, like Apple’s ScreenTime and Google’s Digital WellBeing. In short, make sure your digital experiences are worth it because people are becoming pickier about how they spend time online.
3. Privacy is an expectation
Concern over data privacy is still high among consumers, but it’s slowly declining. Perhaps this is because regulators are cracking down with controls like the GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act.
This isn’t a sign that you can lessen your privacy activities—it’s just a sign that privacy by default and by design has become a consumer expectation. Users are aware of privacy risks, and they want companies to put their interests first.
4. Personalization matters
Meeker’s 2019 report states that today’s companies are “drinking from a data fire hose,” as consumers are looking for personalized experiences.
“The lines between search, social and e-Commerce continue to blur, and Facebook and Google should check their rearview mirror for Amazon—it’s a lot closer than they think,” says analyst Wes Marrin in the report.
Likewise, while Amazon may have pioneered much of the science behind highly personalized digital customer experiences, it’s not the only one in this arena anymore. Social media and eCommerce companies are quickly following suit by blending analytics for smarter customer recommendations and personalization.
Customers definitely don’t want you to do creepy or unsafe things with their data, but they’ll keep coming back if you create the right kinds of experiences.
5. Freemium engages
Consumers love free things. This fact isn’t surprising, but it’s a valuable insight into business models in the digital age. Forty-two percent of consumers list a “free trial tier” as the top reason why they would use online services like music streaming.
As you consider new business models and digital innovation, this is a key point to keep in mind. Free trials drive usage through engagement, social sharing, and user networking, and premium subscription models drive revenue that pays for innovation in these areas.
Don’t listen to anyone who says that digital innovation has slowed. Consumer behavior continues to change globally, and people are pickier than ever about how they spend their time online, but for businesses that can appeal to consumers’ shifting tastes, there’s huge potential to create secure, personalized customer experiences.