2019 Internet Trends Report: “You’re Drinking From a Data Firehose”
This week, Mary Meeker released one of the most highly anticipated slide decks in Silicon Valley that has become somewhat of a ritual reading for tech investors around the globe. We delved into the massive 333-slide “Internet Trends Report 2019” to learn how data is shaping the future of digital (so you don’t have to), and here are our top highlights plus analysis for enterprise business leaders today.
1. “If it feels like we’re all drinking from a data firehose, it’s because we are.”
This is what Mary Meeker opened up her presentation on stage at Vox/Recode’s Code Conference on Tuesday, because it’s not only the most important thing happening in tech but also across the world. We’re producing data at an unfathomable rate — the global datasphere is expected to grow to 175 ZB by 2025! This data is not only the new digital currency but will also fuel the most important technologies of the future, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Our take: Today, every company is a data company. From the world’s largest banks and healthcare providers, to those who sell tickets and help us find our soulmate, and even the U.S. Army — data exists everywhere within an organization, at every single organization. The winners of the new data-driven economy will be those who move aggressively to leverage data as a core asset, rather than a liability.
It’s critical for companies to understand how they access, manage, apply, and secure data across the organization, in order to develop it for new uses (such as AI) that improve the customer experience and drive value back to the business. The data floodgates are open, and those who have leveraging data — in an ethical manner — at the heart of their organization and product strategy will inherit the industries of the future.
2. More than half the human population is online.
To be exact, 51 percent of the world, or 3.8 billion people, used the internet last year. And the report found the top global internet users are in China (21%), India (12%), and the United States (8%). By the same token, Americans are spending more time online than ever — where people spent an average of 6.3 hours per day surfing the web in 2018. Over 25 percent of U.S. adults consider themselves “almost constantly online.”
Our take: An incredible amount of data is being collected during every internet visit and transaction. I believe we’re getting closer to a time where consumers have access to their own data being collected and may have the ability to monetize it themselves in the near future, ultimately taking ownership from online applications, banks, or any entity they engage with.
This means any company that collects consumer data must take responsibility to protect that information and create transparency for consumers. The next step is to figure out how to securely share the data collected with the consumer. Those companies that lead their respective markets will have built a good reputation and relationship with their customers as government regulations become stricter and the knowledge of personal data rights becomes more widespread.
3. There’s a growing threat of cyber attacks as Internet systems become increasingly sophisticated, data-rich & mission critical. At the same time, cyber attacks are increasingly focused on sensitive data.
As more and more customers move to software as a service and cloud, attacks are following data. Attacks against cloud providers, telecommunications, and other organizations with access to large amounts of data increased last year — widening from 178 million in 2015 to 447 million in 2018.
Our take: As long as cybercriminals can profit from sensitive data, they will continue to spend their time and resources on breaching the applications and systems that collect and store that data. Hackers will find ways to breach them or unintentional human error will come into play. Enterprises, such as telecommunications providers, need to make the data less valuable by masking and obfuscating sensitive information throughout their production systems and internally when sharing non-production data for development, testing, and analytics. Otherwise, be prepared to charter a course for a downward spiral.
4. Financial services and banking are becoming more data-driven and direct.
Strategies such as personalized banking and open banking are top of mind for leading banking and payments vendors.
Our take: As evidenced in the report, the fastest growing financial services organizations are gaining customers through personalized experiences. They are using their data in smart ways to customize services. They get to know their customers through interactions and can quickly respond to requests, such as qualifying for a loan or making relevant decisions about investing.
It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all in banking. All banks collect customer data, but using it to improve customer service while keeping personal and financial information secure is key to forging a data culture to win the innovation game.
5. Healthcare is steadily becoming more digitized.
The report found that electronic health records (EHR) adoption is nearly 100 percent for hospitals and physician’s offices in the U.S. At the same time — as internet leaders, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, capture more healthcare data — we can expect more telemedicine and on-demand consultations.
Our take: In order to compete with disruptive new players, established healthcare payors and providers are digitally transforming to become more agile. This includes adopting a hybrid cloud infrastructure to enable the latest technologies to be added to their ecosystems. But moving the mass amount of healthcare data to the cloud comes with challenges, including keeping personal and health-related patient information safe.
Healthcare companies need strong data governance procedures in place, so they can keep data secure while embracing technology, such as AI and mobile, that provides tremendous gains in personalization as well as efficiency and speed.
In short, healthcare companies are realizing that becoming more “digital” will allow them to capture growth opportunities in new markets and respond to new competitive pressures.
Wrapping it All up
Frank Bien, CEO & President of Looker, summed it up very well: “Data is now fundamental to how people work and the most successful companies have intelligently integrated it into everyone’s daily workflow. Data is the new application.”
As the report states, it’s common knowledge that in order to win more market share, it’s critical to leverage data to improve the customer experience. Today, there’s so many more innovative things you can do with data — whether it be to improve efficiencies or drive the product roadmap. But at the heart of it all is making sure you’re addressing data privacy concerns, so it doesn’t put a damper on progress. The smartest thing that any enterprise or industry can do is to integrate data governance and privacy strategies into every aspect of the business, so the business and consumers alike can benefit from aggregated and individual data insights.
As David Reinsel, John Gantz, and John Rydning stated: “The data-driven world will be always on, always tracking, always monitoring, always listening, and always watching — because it will be always learning.”