Now in its 20th year, venture firm KIeiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report is like the Oscars for the Internet industry. Her report crystallizes the things we thought we knew, which leads to a lot of “Aha!” head slaps all around.

Some aspects of the report weren’t all that different from last year’s: Internet growth is slowing, new growth is coming from places such as India, and there’s a lot of growth in mobile. But there are nuances in this year’s report that could have an impact on your job. Here are a few of the most pertinent insights:

  1. Look for opportunities to re-engineer business processes.

In a slideshow summarizing the report, TechCrunch writes, “Enterprise software now lets you do things differently, not just faster,” says TechCrunch. “Email to Slack, cash registers to Square, paper files and insurance brokers to Zenefits, manual background checks to Checkr’s API. Enterprise is about reinventing a process, not speeding up how it used to work.”

What it means to you:  Applications, smartphones, and other software offer the opportunity to streamline workflows by completely eliminating steps, not just automating them.

  1. People are spending more time each day on vertical smartphone screens.

According to Meeker, Americans spend 9.9 hours on screens each day. And 2.8 hours (29 percent) is spent on smartphone screens. Compare that to 7.6 hours total and .4 hours on smartphones in 2010 (only .5 percent).

Moreover, the amount of time we spend on horizontal laptop and desktop screens hasn’t changed—all that extra screen time is coming from smartphones.

What it means to you: How well does your company’s website display on vertical screens? How about the websites that your employees and contractors use? Increasingly, users—as well as search engines—are going to judge a website based on how well it works on a mobile phone.

  1. Industry sectors in the U.S. such as education, healthcare, and government have seen much less Internet impact than sectors such as consumer and business.

Internet impact is the measure of how much an industry is tethered to the Internet as a whole. For education and healthcare Internet impact is 25 percent, and for government it’s 10 percent, compared with essentially 100 percent for consumer and 75 percent for business industries.

“The Internet has already transformed the consumer and business space, where entrepreneurs can build products that meet their needs or solve pain points,” writes TechCrunch. “Larger, more regulated spaces that are less accessible or comprehensible to the average entrepreneur have seen less Internet-driven innovation, and are essentially sitting ducks for startups.”

What it means to you: Instead of trying to be the Next Big Thing in consumer or business, look at opportunities in education, healthcare, and government.

  1. There’s more evidence that we’re moving to a freelance economy.

In fact, we might be already there, with Meeker estimating that as much as a third of the U.S. workforce is now working as contractors, writes Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols in ZDNet.

“Only 5 percent, or 3 million, of those ‘freelancers’ are working at traditional freelance jobs such as writing,” he writes. “Most of them, 21 million, are working on ‘gigs,’ with another 12 million moonlighting on their full-time jobs to make ends meet. Another 9 million are keeping a roof over the head with multiple part-time or project-based jobs. Finally, 6 million are doing their best to keep food on the table working as temps.”

The downside, he notes, is twofold: their incomes are lower and there’s less regulation.

What it means to you: The technical expertise you need in your organization may come better from a consultant rather than an employee, especially since Meeker also found that the biggest population in the workforce—Millennials—are more interested in work-life balance.


Of course, with a 197-slide report, we’ve really just been able to scratch the surface. The whole report is well worth reading. Hopefully you’ll make time for it before next year’s report comes out.

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