New Report Shows More Digital Disruption Coming

The speed of technological disruption is accelerating. Consider this: It took about 80 years for Americans to adopt the dishwasher. The consumer internet has become commonplace in less than a decade.

Technology will continue to disrupt the way we work and the way we engage with employees and consumers. In the coming year, expect more on-demand and internet-related jobs to predominate—and internet leaders like Google and Amazon will offer more artificial intelligence service platforms as AI becomes a bigger part of enterprise spending.

For 2018, legendary stock analyst and investor Mary Meeker of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has released a new report offering insight into what’s happening in the digital world for 2018, including the biggest trends in mobile usage and e-commerce innovation.

Meeker’s 294-page 2018 Internet Trends Report shows that although year-over-year growth in the number of internet users slowed by 5 percent from 2016 to 2017, approximately 3.6 billion people are currently using the internet. That represents 50 percent of the world population for 2018.

While internet adoption may be slowing, mobile usage is increasing. American adults spend a total of 5.9 hours per day using digital media in 2017, up from 5.6 hours in 2016. Those 5.9 hours break down into 3.3 hours on mobile devices, 2.1 hours on a desktop/laptop and 0.6 hours on other connected devices.

Here are other highlights from the report:

  • Wifi adoption: Globally, rates are rising. In 2015 there were 300 million Wifi networks; last year that number had risen to nearly 450 million.
  • Mobile apps: Easy-to-use products are becoming more pervasive due to the simplicity of use. Examples include messaging apps like Telegram, commerce apps like Square Cash and media apps such as Spotify.
  • E-commerce: The e-commerce reach continues to expand. According to the global respondents in the report, 60 percent of transactions were done digitally compared to 40 percent in-store. Digital transactions included in-app payments, QR codes, P2P transfers and smart home devices. In the U.S., acceleration continued with a 16 percent year-over-year increase in growth for e-commerce use from 2016 to 2017.
  • Instant messaging: Monthly active user statistics show Twitter usage remaining constant while activity on Instagram and WeChat continues to grow. The two largest apps are Facebook Messenger, with approximately 1.3 billion active users, and WhatsApp (now owned by Facebook), with 1.5 billion users.
  • Mobile video: Mobile video adoption is climbing. In 2012, daily mobile video viewing minutes were around 5 minutes; in 2017 they were up to 28 minutes and are expected to continue climbing.
  • Voice technology: Voice technology is gaining in popularity as well, due largely in part to the fact that speech recognition has a 95 percent accuracy rate. The popularity is well illustrated in Amazon Echo, which went from 10 million to over 30 million sold by the close of 2017.

Of course, as much as the internet drives innovation and shapes consumer habits, it does have its issues. The privacy of data is at the top of any discussion on internet usage, particularly in light of the new GDPR rules from the European Union that went into effect on May 25. As Meeker’s report states, data improves consumer engagement and experiences. It drives growth, but it also increases scrutiny. And with the recent rash of data breaches, regulators want to ensure data is not used improperly—that internet users and their personal information are protected. “It’s crucial to manage for unintended consequences, but irresponsible to stop innovation and progress,” says the report.

One point of interest for direct sellers: According to the report, the desire of workers for scheduling and work-from-home flexibility led internet freelance work to grow three times faster than the total workforce growth. The on-demand workforce grew 23 percent in 2017, driven by Uber, Airbnb, Etsy, Upwork and Doordash.

To see the full 2018 Internet Trends Report, click here.

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