Recently, renowned venture capitalist Mary Meeker presented her highly anticipated 2018 Internet Trends Report at Code Conference. This 294-page report, which is largely viewed as one of the most prescient and comprehensive reports on the internet, spans a vast array of topics, touching on everything from emerging technology and e-commerce to healthcare and mobile adoption.

Edelman’s Integrated Business Marketing team in Chicago has reviewed the full report and identified what we see as the three biggest trends impacting B2B businesses today. The trends listed below should be top of mind for B2B businesses as they develop their communications marketing strategies:

  • The Privacy Paradox is not going anywhere: Meeker explains that tech companies are currently facing a “privacy paradox” as they attempt to balance using customer data to support a better user experience with respecting user’s privacy. In addition to complying with regulations like GDPR, B2B companies should also understand how privacy preferences vary based on the different regions in which their company operates. For example, the 2018 Internet Trends Report explains that Chinese consumers are more willing than U.S. users to share their personal data for product benefits. Navigating the inflection point of big data and privacy will continue to be a flashpoint for every business.  
  • AI will be put into practice: Meeker’s report predicts that large companies like Google and Amazon will start offering more artificial intelligence service platforms, with AI finally capturing a bigger portion of enterprise spending. However, Meeker cautions that B2B companies must proceed carefully when integrating AI or machine learning into products, quoting Google CEO, Sundar Pichai: “AI is one of the most important things humanity is working on. It’s more profound than electricity or fire. We have learned to harness fire for the benefits of humanity, but we had to overcome its downsides too. AI is really important, but we have to be concerned about it.” The fever pitch around using AI ethically will increase in importance, and companies using this technology should be prepared to proactively articulate their POV in an effort to demonstrate sincerity and transparency around “getting it right.
  • Tech investment shows no sign of slowing: According to Meeker’s report, we are experiencing a second technology boom. As of April 2018, technology companies accounted for a quarter of U.S. market capitalization. Also, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, Intel, Apple and Microsoft were six of the top 15 highest spenders for research and development and capital expenditure. This growing investment from both the public and private sectors in tech is worth noting for B2B tech companies looking for funding or those hoping to finance research.

Other notable trends include increased spending in healthcare leading to more value-based models; the further acceleration of technological disruption, the nonstop ascent of voice assistants; and the continued rise of China as a major competitive threat to the U.S.’s dominance in tech.

Beth Frenzer is account executive, Integrated Business Marketing, Chicago.