My favorite annual report on digital trends has been out for a bit, but I’ve been so busy at work it’s been difficult for me to find time to review. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see it yourself.  There are so many things to cover off on, it’s nigh impossible to really thoroughly cover all the interesting points.  

Here’s a few things that jumped out:

  • Internet users currently at 39% globally, while mobile phone users are at 73% (5.2B) – growth is bound to slow as less developed nations take longer to assimilate; however addressing global internet is something many are interested in and will likely happen in the near future.  We will live in an era where everyone is connected and can communicate on a global scale at an extremely low cost.
  • The US and China are still dominant in terms of tech firms, however the sheer size of China gives them scale advantage for product usage.  Innovation wise, it seems the US is still driving and gobbling up share from a hardware standpoint.
  • Globalization continues to be driven by technology and data driven organizations will be at the forefront.  Countries like China and India have huge potential for growth, but also have other challenges, the markets are completely different but offer big targets for tech companies, even more so than traditional CPGs.
  • The majority of tech expansion has been seen in the consumer and business spaces, whereas other areas such as education and governance have been less of a focus, likely due to the ability to monetize offerings and get implemented at scale–I’d like to think adoption of tech will increase but to be honest am not certain; my wife is a teacher and I’ve worked in government and there’s a tremendous amount of inertia in both spaces.  Not necessarily stating that folks in these groups are adverse to change, but that the systems aren’t built to reward innovation–it will be interesting to see what changes actually do happen in the near future.
  • Actual usage of the internet continues to grow despite users decelerating.  As I’ve expected for some time, more and more content continues to find it’s way to the interactive space.  Broadcast television will continue to port over.  In time, everything will be available online.  How it’s monetized is the real question, as the legacy industries will NOT give up their long term revenue streams; but the less valuable offerings and bundles we see now with cable will be culled chaff.
  • Internet advertising has caught up to the amount of time spent on the medium, Print continues to underperform relative to spent dollars, Mobile is woefully underserved which is somewhat mind boggling when you consider that so much of Facebook’s business is Mobile and it continues to grow.  There’s still a ridiculous gap there and it shows that we are no where near the long term cap.
  • Ad times are shrinking.  This means marketers are getting smarter about getting ignored.  Would you rather have a clip that they jump over after 5 seconds, or get a message conveyed in that 5 seconds?  That said, the paid model around views with the option to skip the message is still a great format for all parties.
  • Big screen home televisions have been supplemented by ease of use with mobile devices.  No surprise there.  People watch larger televisions for long term content–not 5 second cat videos.
  • Software continues to solve old issues (some of them not really recognized by the users) and add value for enteprise.  Software As A Service will continue to be a staple of profits for companies in the future and the legacy upgrade process will likely go the way of the buffalo.  There’s a reason we are often 1-2 versions of software behind–future SAAS avoids this unnecessary issue.
  • Messaging continues to evolve through a multitude of Apps.  Messaging WILL BE THE FUTURE for communication; you could argue it’s the present.  Phone calls are not going away, but the ease of communication is sought after by multiple groups.  How does messaging get monetized is the real question, if it’s just part of data usage or if there’s another wrinkle such as advertising.  Messaging is more than text of course, it’s all kinds of contextual imagery, emoticons, pictures and more.   This space is already huge and I don’t see it slowing any time soon.
  • Wearables have a toe in the water, but a company like Apple will optimize them and others will follow suit.  I know many have predicted a flop there, but I think it’s going to be common to see people with digitized watches connected online getting notifications and geographical proximal information.
  • User Generated Content continues to explode with streaming from companies like Twitch – live streams are now available via phone and Marketing may see implications with thought leadership and exclusivity intertwined for followers.  Celebrity and non celebrity personas who command attention will be HUGE in the digital space, smaller scale content based on personality and follower connection are going to lead a new era of Marketing.
  • Content will generally be curated by the crowd; less and less “chosen” by larger media groups – this favors companies like Google not only because they own Youtube, but because they understand algorithmic curation for users.
  • Ownership of assets continues to be broken down bit by bit with companies optimizing the cost of assets through distribution usage over needs.  Purveyors of information leading to optimized asset usage are huge companies.  This isn’t highlighted a lot in the report, but rental services will continue to explode by lowering the overall cost for consumers while making it easier and faster to access.  Cars are the most obvious thing to note here, but there are other markets such as professional services where breaking down offerings into smaller increments adds value for consumers.
  • Usage of drones continues to soar, something I haven’t spent a lot of time reviewing.  I will likely dig into this in more detail at a later date.
  • Services roles continue to grow while goods producing jobs decline; I’ve continued to look at this trend and try to come to understanding around implications for the future.  Automation of work will continue and the long term viability of work for uneducated remains in question.  It’s a long term going concern economically.
  • Urbanization of the populace continues it’s strong growth.  Knowledge workers versus farm hands, etc.  A great deal of this has to do with the ongoing improvement in transportation infrastructure and digitalization of information.  As automation of roles continues, the need for remote work is driven down.  The flip side of this coin is that telecommute is ever more popular, yet large MSAs continue to grow comparative to rural areas.
  • Marriage timing delaying and household sizes lowering.  Expected ages go up as well.  Is this an effect of longer term thinking or higher education levels lowering population proliferation?
  • People expect technology and connectivity at work and at home, Millenials have high expectations of employers in terms of flexibility.  The legacy idea of companies dictating employment times are going away with technological advancement.
  • Knowledge workers increasingly using online platforms as a way to garner freelance work.  I have a good friend utilizing this type of work and she seems to love it.  The big talking point most folks tauted was that people change their job 7 times in their lives.  The new age is an army of freelancers taking on project work, providing flexibility in work/life balance and lowering overall costs of work for the companies that employ them.  Regulation and policies are somewhat outdated for these types of workers, it will continue to evolve.  Mastering the output and process is a big ask of the company — but big rewards follow in operational efficiency.