It sounds weird to be excited about a slide deck, but each year there's one that stands out: Mary Meeker's Internet Trends Report.

Yesterday, the 2018 version of the Internet Trends Report was unveiled by Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and former Wall Street securities analyst, at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. When the report was unveiled, our CEO, Atif Siddiqi sent a team message to an internal Slack thread summarizing some of his thoughts on the annual data extravaganza. Two areas really stood out to our team: the slides on work (141-175) and enterprise software (262-277).

"Every year I look forward to reading Mary Meeker’s Internet Trend Report from Kleiner Perkins. Usually helps me step back to see the macro picture and helps with validating any ideas with what’s going in the world," he said.

We're not the only company who sees this report as beneficial. In the last day, a number of companies and startups representing a vast swath of verticals started to take note of how the data and relationships from this year's report matter to them. From Adage to HubSpot, the exhaustive and monumental report become fodder for a variety of people and verticals.

"Companies can be so heads-down with what they're trying to accomplish that they sometimes miss trends that are impacting their industry or customers," says Wes MacLaggan, senior VP of marketing at Marin Software. "With the Mary Meeker Report, companies around the world take a few moments to take a step back and figure out what's happening in adjacent spaces."

📱How Far Mobile Has Come

When Mary delivered this report about eight or nine years ago, the main missive at that juncture was that mobile is going to be very, very big. The trends she outlined each year served as a signal for developers, creators, builders, and entrepreneurs to think about the looming impact mobile would have on our world.

Today, things are much different:

🌍 Roughly half of the world's population, about 3.6 billion people, now have some access to the internet.

📉 Growth in the number of internet users has slowed.

🚚 Global shipments of mobile devices has stalled.

📱 Collectively, we log about 6 hours per day with a digital device.

🎥 We're watching 30 minutes of video a day on mobile devices.

🔊 There are 30 million Amazon Echo devices in our homes.

👗 Retail sales from e-commerce are up to about 13 percent.

Formerly emerging markets are now mainstream. Global adoption is rising and new user growth is becoming more challenging. Instead of forecasting growth at the hands of mobile, our attention has turned to the scrutiny of applications, products, and ever-faster technology.

It provides us the incredible opportunity to step back and analyze the "micro of the macro" that is shaping everything from trends in retail to the ways in which people work. There's a lot of data here -- almost 300 slides worth. But for us, it allows the opportunity to turn that data into knowledge and to illustrate the relationships and significance they have on the verticals that shape the way we shop and how we work.

It's not just about using Google or Amazon to find a product -- it's about how retailers should be thinking about product fulfillment and how Artificial Intelligence, data, voice technology, and personalization impact what consumers look for.

So, we wanted to focus on the slides from this year's report that really stood out to us. We'll be hitting most of the usual topics we cover here on Shiftonomics, including the future of work, eCommerce, "new retail," digital payments, and more.

Let's dive in and explore, shall we?

Internet's Impact on Employment
Without a doubt, the internet is/has/will continue to change the way we work in drastic measures.

Reaching such massive adoption in internet usage globally and wider adoption of mobile devices has created a tremendous shift in the way we find jobs and work.

In addition, technology -- its ease of use and ubiquity -- has made us much more nimble and mobile in our work. If you ask people what they desire in their next job, they're more likely to ask for a flexible schedule or the ability to work from home. These are things that never would have been possible without the proliferation of mobile and technology.

🔎 How to Search for a Product
When we look for something online, there are typically two places to begin the quest: Amazon and Google. Underneath those umbrellas, three main actions are influencing our purchases from intent to fulfillment.

Product Finding: At Amazon, explicitly searching for an item. On Google, typing in a query or question to find a product.

Discovery: Emerging as a way for consumers to find products. Increasingly, data-driven metrics are shaping how people find products on social channels like Facebook.

Personalized Discovery: A shift from platforms to the social channels we use that are increasingly connecting consumers to the products they desire based on deep, data-driven, personalized, and increasingly-competitive insights.

Does Google = Amazon and Amazon = Google? According to Meeker, "Google in effect is evolving from an ad platform to a commerce platform. Amazon is evolving from a commerce platform to an ad platform."

❗️AI Rapidly Becomes Priority
There's really no underestimating the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

At Davos, Google CEO, Sundar Pichai declared that “AI is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on. I think of it as something more profound than electricity or fire,” he said. “Any time you work with technology, you need to learn to harness the benefits while minimizing the downsides.”

It clearly occupies a paradoxical place in our minds: while it clearly represents so much power and utility, it also could harness much more negative outcomes.

In addition, AI platforms are growing in prominence, as underscored by cloud leaders like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform which are powering the technology layers of independent business and startups alike with features including natural language processing and computer vision.

For now, AI's application in business is steadily increasing as illustrated by the rapidly rising spending priority for businesses.

As for the two biggest players in AI right now? China and the United States.

📊 Consumerization Has Reshaped Enterprise
Reduced onboarding flows, elimination of email conversations, faster customer service, and automated messaging on mobile sites -- these are all products of how consumerization has been greatly changed because of enterprise tech tools that have drastically changed the workforce, namely Dropbox and Slack.

Messaging threads alone, prominent in many of the collaborative enterprise work platforms like Slack are fundamentally changing the way we work, decreasing time spent emailing, allowing for a more distributed workforce, and increasing productivity. While the internet has changed how we access information, apps like Slack are changing how teams and companies acquire, curate, share and store information integral to their day-to-day operations. One of the biggest challenges in business has been how to share information and Slack is helping to make it 'universally accessible and useful.'

As for the benefits some Slack users report:

32% decline in email usage

24% reduction in employee onboarding

23% faster to market time for development teams

23% decline in meetings (um, yes please!)

10% rise in employee happiness (wow!)

📱Consumers Are More Mobile Than Ever
More and more consumers are relying on mobile. Today, a network of mobile shopping and payment applications are fueling our shopping needs and are also creating faster, more streamlined user experiences that make it much easier to click + buy. Subscription models are taking advantage of curation and personalization to create recurring revenue streams and ease of purchases, too.

E-commerce continues to evolve and scale and represents about 13 percent of all retail sales.

"The next generation of retail includes mobile technology and in-store retail, furthering the omnichannel ideal some companies are striving for," Meeker notes.

👔 New Retail Takes Shape
One of the biggest themes gaining traction in the world of shopping is that of "experience." Increasingly, shopping is entertainment and it's being fueled by mobile.

"Mobile shopping usage is one of the fastest growing areas of app sessions out there," Meeker said. "Product and price discovery is often video enabled. Product and price discovery is increasingly social and gamified. Physical retail trending, longterm sales are on a decelerating trend. Then, there’s China and there’s new retail ..."

Meeker refers to the swiftly-changing retail landscape being led by Alibaba and a concept coined by Jack Ma in 2016 born in China but quickly taking notice in the rest of the world. This new and innovative approach has been the talk of the retail world and it's success for Alibaba has largely been shaped by three primary factors:

  1. A marketplace platform that handles billions of daily transactions,

  2. Deep technology with best insights into consumers,

  3. A comprehensive ecosystem that represents the digital retail nexus of commerce platforms, logistics, and payments.

Meeker goes on to summarize the Alibaba philosophy on 'new retail' in their own words:

“It’s fair to say that our e-commerce platform is fast becoming the leading retail infrastructure of China. Alibaba’s marketplace platforms handle billions of transactions each month, we have the best insights into consumer behavior, we have deep technology, and a comprehensive eco-system of commerce platforms, logistics, and payments."

📚 Employees Desire, Seek Retraining
Employees are constantly desiring and looking for retraining and education to support lifelong learning. Whether it's from YouTube or other online courses, we're racking up more than 1 billion video views a day searching for content ranging from crafting resumes to solving problems related to our favorite hobbies.

As for the favorite courses we took in 2017, the top two were Machine Learning and Neural Networking.