“We’re living in a period of unprecedented change and unprecedented opportunity,” said venture capitalist Mary Meeker, as she unveiled her annual Internet Trends report at the technology event 2018 Code Conference, held May 29–31 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The scope of change was evident in the Code Conference’s expanded focus this year, which for the first time was not strictly for people who run tech companies, but also for those who run companies grappling with technological change — and tech companies grappling with government, according to the Code Conference website.
The annual Internet Trends report by Meeker, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins, is a highly anticipated and in-depth — 294 pages! — analysis of everything from mobile to commerce to competition among huge tech companies. At the conference, Meeker ran through a lengthy slideshow to hit on all of the hottest internet-related trends. We’ve distilled it down to five and connected them to the business-events industry.
- Voice technology is taking off. Google’s Machine Learning word accuracy rate has reached its peak at 95 percent. Industry relevance: This could be a huge game-changer when it comes to providing accessibility at sessions for the hearing-impaired, as closed-captions can be provided in real time with near-perfect accuracy. And with voice-controlled products like Amazon Echo taking off, too, with their abilities constantly expanding, it’s easy to see how they can be used to help attendees register for an event, find their way around an exhibit hall, or learn about a conference’s agenda.
- The number of video views via cell phone has skyrocketed. Since 2012, the daily mobile video-viewing minutes has increased from under 10 minutes to more than 30 minutes per day, according to the report. Industry relevance: Given that many use their phones to view news and entertainment videos, they’re apt to just as readily watch videos about events. Organizers should make this medium an important part of their messaging.
- Data gathering and optimization is “increasingly global and competitive.” As consumers have continued to adopt cell phones, the use of the cloud, and social media into their daily lives since the early 2000s, data-gathering has become easier than ever. “Data can be an important driver of customer satisfaction,” Meeker said. U.S. companies that carry a market cap in excess of $100 billion, such as Netflix, Priceline, and Amazon, have relatively high satisfaction scores due to their ability to predict consumers’ desires. Industry relevance: Collecting the right data enables organizers to customize each attendee’s experience, by recommending the most relevant education sessions and exhibitors, and connecting them to fellow attendees who share their challenges.
- Artificial intelligence is becoming more accurate. Amazon and Google are particularly competitive in this space. Meeker quoted Google CEO Sundar Pichai: “AI is one of the most important things humanity is working on. It’s more profound than electricity or fire.” Industry relevance: As artificial intelligence services’ predictability and capability grows stronger, organizations are able to take data about attendees and create customized attendee journeys that are more meaningful for them.
- With great data comes great responsibility. Consumers provide companies like Netflix and Amazon with a lot of their information in return for a more personalized experience. Industry relevance: Attendees may be willing to part with personal information to get a more tailored event experience, but organizers must handle their data with appropriate care. It’s what Meeker calls a “privacy paradox,” and referenced Facebook’s ongoing privacy issues. However, it would “irresponsible,” she said, to allow those privacy concerns to “stop innovation and progress.”