10 highlights for IT leaders: Mary Meeker’s internet report

10 highlights for IT leaders: Mary Meeker’s internet report

Tech sage Mary Meeker's annual look at industry trends is out: We distill items of note for IT chiefs

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June 06, 2018

6. But data privacy concerns mount

Of course, using data to create better customer experiences – of the sort that generate more spending, more loyalty, and a boost to the bottom line – doesn’t come free from potential complications. Meeker calls it the “privacy paradox.” Consider the conflicting forces and blurry lines between sharing or collecting data, privacy, and our own mixed opinions as individuals about what we’re willing to give up (data) for what we receive in exchange (all of the apps and services we use.) It’s a particularly thorny problem for many CIOs – not just for Facebook.

In her presentation, Meeker distills the privacy issue into three sentences: “Internet companies are making low-price services better in part from user data. Internet users are increasing their time on internet services based on perceived value. Regulators want to ensure data is not used improperly, and not all regulators think about this in the same way.” (See slide 31.)

[ See our related story: GDPR: Biggest pain points, now and later. ]

7. Security threats increase in volume, sophistication

Here’s a related topic that’s not reassuring, nor surprising to many IT leaders: The bad guys are capitalizing on the pace of technology change and innovation, too, with an increasing volume of malware and other threats that leverage legitimate technologies, such as cloud services, to steal or destroy data. (See slide 211.)

8. Lifelong learning is key in the digital age

In this era marked by computer power and human potential, lifelong learning is key. (Meeker’s presentation devotes considerable space to the marked shifts in the labor market and how people work.) That’s something savvy IT pros have long treated as table stakes for sustainable career success. 

The good news: Meeker notes that ongoing education is more accessible than ever, and sites like Coursera and plenty of others are improving. Also worth noting: The list of top online courses from 2017 that Meeker includes on slide 233 is dominated by IT topics like machine learning, algorithms, and blockchain technologies.

9. Enterprise messaging apps grow in importance

Meeker devotes several slides (269-272) to the outsized role that  messaging and collaboration apps – or “enterprise messaging threads,” such as Slack, Dropbox, and Zoom – now play in many organizations. In fact, the term “messaging” might not adequately cover it: They’ve fast become significant repositories of organizational knowledge, history, structure, and more. They’re also helping to significantly cut down on email and meetings.

[ See our related story: How to kill needless meetings: 7 tips. ]

10. Tech companies driving R&D, Capex spending

A parting shot of perspective on just how significant a role IT plays in today’s world: Tech companies account for 25 percent (and growing) total of U.S. market capitalization. Perhaps more significantly, tech firms are also driving the lion’s share of both research and development spending and capital expenditures, comprising nine of the top 15 spenders among public U.S. companies.

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