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What You Need To Know About Mary Meeker’s 2017 State of the Internet Report

Bob Gourley

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We should all collectively thank Mary Meeker for her continued efforts in helping capture key trends in our interconnected technology. Her yearly report on the state of the Internet (available at Internet Trends Report and embedded below) provides context relevant to just about every enterprise decision-maker.

Here are key takeaways:

  • Global smartphone growth is slowing. Growth was 10% two years ago, and only 3% last year. Growth in Internet connectivity is also slowing. My view: This is to be expected. Now expect continued slow growth till 100% of humanity upgrades from old school cell phones to smartphones. Same with Internet connectivity. We are on path to 100% connectivity but we are in the long tail phase. A more important number to track is percent market penetration vice rate of growth. For the U.S., we are now at over 80% market penetration for smartphones (not in Meeker's brief, see ComScore).
  • The trend towards voice interaction with computers is heating up. 20 percent of mobile queries are now made via voice. Expect that to grow. Expect growth in the home and office too. Meeker points out that Google's ability to understand voice is reaching the 95% accuracy rate. So you might ask yourself, when will it be as good as humans at understanding language? Guess what, humans are not perfect at understanding spoken language and have about the same error rate. To me this means computer based language understanding has a good chance at being better than human understanding of spoken language really soon. Stand by!
  • Meeker does a fascinating job of highlighting how many successful leaders and entrepreneurs are also fans of gaming. Global interactive gaming is becoming a common experience for a huge percentage of humanity, with over 2.6 billion gamers in 2017. Meeker makes point that in many ways global interactive gaming is helping humanity prepare for the coming shift in computing interfaces.
  • Cloud computing is turning out exactly like tech leaders (including all you CTOvision readers) have been predicting. It is providing more opportunities for enterprises of all sizes (from the smallest business to the largest corporation and governments). It is also providing incredible opportunities for entrepreneurs, innovators and investors. And individuals are also benefiting tremendously. But, there are still risks that have to be mitigated and security issues to resolve. As more and more applications and services migrate to the cloud, more will be required for security.
  • In healthcare, Meeker shows three great waves of how healthcare is delivered. For most of humanity, healthcare was done by human touch and physical examinations. For the last 25 years, there has been machine assisted and analog technology support. Today we are seeing the rise of digital technology in health care delivery. This is generating new data cycles aimed at improved outcomes is: Digital Inputs, Data Accumulation, Data Insight, Translation for Impact.

And on a humorous note: 

Mary's slide decks are full of informative graphs. I have a graph I would like to present too. The graph below plots the number of slides in her presentation, going back to 2006.

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Ha! So analyze that! Looks to me like the number of slides in the State of the Internet Brief have hit the knee of the curve and can now be expected to double every year. If this doubling continues then in just 12 years it will contain over a million slides. In 33 years there will be more slides in her brief than there are smartphones in the world! (Mary if you are reading this I hope you are smiling! I would like more slides because I love what you are doing!).

The So-What:

On a more serious note, the most actionable thing the brief should do for enterprise technologists is help you to think through current business processes. There are many continuous questions to ask yourself. For example:

  • How do you learn to more rapidly access the impact of new technology on your business model?
  • How does your understanding of the future of IT inform decisions on technology selections for your enterprise?
  • What do you do to better secure your infrastructure?
  • What do you do to better empower your workforce to take advantage of the new realities of technology?

We hope that as you think through those questions you stay with us at CTOvision for continued updates. Please be sure you are signed up for our monthly newsletter and our daily alerts by visiting our Newsletter Settings page. And track the latest on Twitter at @CTOvision.

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Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com