The State of the Internet: Business Lessons from Mary Meeker
State of the Internet

The State of the Internet: Business Lessons from Mary Meeker

The internet is a powerful tool. But what can it tell you about how to run your business into the future?

Few technology reports generate as much interest as VC Mary Meeker’s annual “state of the internet” report. It details the web’s evolution and digs into how the world consumes content and connects. Pundits across the globe have chipped in to extrapolate what they think and extend the predictions. Now it’s our turn. Which of Meeker’s data points will impact businesses the most as they continue to navigate the new world of work? And what should they be paying attention to?

Big Data’s Big Trends

Few of us question the value of data. But, what gets lost in the hype are the real-world examples all around us. The internet of everything is trickling down from the industrial internet and creeping into our homes and onto our arms. Things like wearable technology, consumer appliances and other connected devices are generating all the buzz, but don’t underestimate the B2B impact.

Meeker’s state of the internet report  touches on some of the dynamic big data technology developments in recent time including Jawbone, Dropcam, Netflix, AppDynamics, SnapLogic and Ayasdi. The cloud, powerful computing resources, simple interfaces, and better analytics are finally bringing all that data these technologies track front-and-center. It doesn’t mean accurate decision-making will follow, however. If anything, Meeker’s big data slides show a window of opportunity to invest in the people, process, and tools to really leverage data for a competitive advantage. Businesses should never stop looking at ways to use its data. Think open. Think connected. Think about how other processes, partners, and applications can be improved with your business’ data.

Big Data Trends - State of the Internet

Industry Impact

Healthcare and Education are the industries experiencing real turning points, and the slides below show some of the changes Meeker cited. Business processes in both sectors are moving closer and closer to end-users. It’s the oft-cited consumerization of “X” on one hand, and B2B improvements on the other. As digital transformation (cloud computing, automation, better UIs) continues to take hold, data is moving online and improving distribution and efficiency.

Whether it is class courses or wellness programs, content and communications are being baked into and delivered within all sorts of new applications, services, and devices. You can see that reflected in Meeker’s Healthcare investment numbers, where digital health ventures were up almost 40 percent year-to-year. It’s the same situation in Education.

Healthcare Realities - State of the Internet

New tools and technologies are reshaping how educators and institutions deliver value. Feedback is being captured in real-time, communications are improving, and distribution is starting to scale. The lessons for other industries are scattered throughout. It’s a good time to get acquainted with the forces reshaping your own industry.

Visual sharing continues to explode

Lighter publishing tools with a visual slant are exploding. First-generation blogging and photo apps have evolved into slick and integrated content creation tools. You don’t have to grasp them all. Instead, pay attention to how they’re shifting content consumption and which demographics flock to which service. At the very least, you should account for these types of trends in your research and marketing.

Evolution of Communications - State of the Internet

Messaging Evolution Signals Other Trends

Observe how messaging provides some insight as well. The image below shows the shift to smaller networks and communities, what’s described as the “new social graphs,” as opposed to larger networks like Facebook. It’s a shift that’s consistent with the recent emergence of more vertical networks. We see them in health and education, among others, and don’t expect a slowdown. They’ll continue to morph as more process go digital and companies strive for not just more customers, but the right customers. Internet-based messaging is already creeping around the enterprise so take heed of what makes it so alluring. It’s just a matter of time before it impacts the way to seek and engage with customers and partners.

Evolution of Messaging - State of the Internet


And finally, everyone’s favorite: internet advertising. In short, don’t fire your SEO company yet. Growth is still strong, but to throw a little cold water on some of Meeker’s data, it may not be as good as it seems. BloombergView columnist Megan McArdle surfaced a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research that suggests advertisers aren’t getting much bang for all those bucks. All the research wasn’t doom and gloom but the most “extreme case” was at least interesting. It took data from some big paid search experiments at eBay and attempting to gauge their effectiveness. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

“Because search clicks and purchase behavior are correlated, we show that returns from paid search are a fraction of conventional non-experimental estimates. As an extreme case, we show that brand-keyword ads have no measurable short-term benefits. For non-brand keywords we find that new and infrequent users are positively influenced by ads but that more frequent users whose purchasing behavior is not influenced by ads account for most of the advertising expenses, resulting in average returns that are negative.”

However you slice that, with all the concern around bots, privacy, and ad blockers, it’s clear that skepticism in the world of internet advertising is alive and well.

Internet Advertising - State of the Internet

Taking Action

It’s an understatement to say Meeker’s report provides a lot of data. But how will your business use it? From internal approaches, to customer strategies – businesses need to harness this is information and knowledge to make more informed decisions as they continue to navigate the rapidly-changing world of work. So, sift through it again, share it with colleagues, and leverage it in planning meetings. This is the stuff  your business didn’t realize it wanted.