The enterprise story from Meeker 2017

Yesterday saw the publication of the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Internet Trends 2017 report by Mary Meeker and to save you some of the time involved in reading all 355 pages of it, we’ve trawled through to find the enterprise story for intranet, digital workplace and digital communication professionals. Here are our takeaways.

Internet use, smartphone use continues to grow

Logic dictates, but we’re starting to see a diminishing growth in use of the internet (12% growth in 2016 versus 16% in 2012) and a dramatic change in the growth rate of smartphone users (year-on-year 2016 this was just 3% compared with 28% in 2014). Both, however, remain in growth and for enterprises, this means that our focus on the smartphone as an enterprise digital workplace tool should remain. As we’ll see in our section on the enterprise, mobile-first is a dictum that pays.

Users of smartphones are using them even more than before. A few of the Intranetizen team have presented on the idea of ‘mobile moments’ in recent months and Meeker’s latest report confirms this position. On average, smartphone users spend 3.1 hours a day on their devices which may seem like a huge window for enterprises, but your intranet and apps will be competing against many more compelling propositions.

The future of search

Search remains a fundamental way to interact with websites, services and apps but the way we access these results are fundamentally changing. Meeker notes that as computers get smarter at understanding us, we are switching our behaviour away from non-natural language searches (keywords, key sentences). 70% of all requests to Google Assistant are now in natural language format and, related, 20% of all such requests from mobiles are via voice.

We’ve written about the rise of enterprise chatbots as a more natural way to access information and services and the 2017 Meeker report suggests that this is going to be an important channel for employees. Google’s voice machine learning capabilities now exceed human capabilities with a higher word accuracy than most people. Voice, via Google, Siri, Alexa and others, is now a valued interface and we expect this to translate to enterprises soon.

Gaming, gamification and the enterprise

For the first time, Meeker includes a section on gaming and she describes in some detail the size, strength and technology innovation in this space. The report highlights the motivational importance of badges, points, leaderboards and statuses and how these features have been adopted to gamify non-game processes. We’re fans of gamification and have written about this a few times on these pages but broadly, application inside companies has been poor and understanding of the potential is muddied by confusions between games and gamification.

Meeker ends her gaming section with some fascinating quotes from business leaders about the importance of gaming in their lives and learning. As Byron Reeves, Professor of Communication at Stanford University notes, “if you want to see what business leadership may look like in 3-5 years, look at what’s happening in games”. We agree; this remains an enterprise opportunity.

Meeker’s Enterprise view

For the first time, Meeker includes a section on enterprise computing and repeatedly notes the cross-over in trends, processes and themes from the consumer to enterprise world.

The staggering rise in cloud technologies has seen some fundamental change in the way businesses run their operations. Enterprise cloud spend is now $36bn a year, up 37% versus 2014 to the detriment of traditional data centres (down 13% in the same time period).

This switch though has generated new business challenges, particularly in relation to compliance (27% of businesses note this as a top 3 issue) and the ability to switch cloud supplier (22% call out this issue in 2015 compared with just 7% in 2012). In contrast, businesses are much more at ease with issues with data security and costs. These statistics reflect that cloud computing is becoming more common and there’s a maturity of of understanding of the operation.

Meeker notes the incredible transformation in enterprise computing from perpetual licences and on-premise computing, to cloud SaaS and to mobile first applications. This transformation has lead to a staggering growth in the numbers of applications and services that enterprises are using to serve their employees and businesses. Via Netskope, Meeker notes that not only are businesses running a huge number of cloud applications, but that 98% of them are not enterprise-ready. This is the proliferation of consumer computing — shadow IT — into the enterprise. They are cheap to build, easy to adopt and significantly harder to secure. Building a cohesive employee experience across these services is a new enterprise challenge that will require time and money.

TL;DR Summary

  • Internet and smartphone use is growing so optimising for mobile still makes excellent sense.
  • We can learn from gaming and gamification.
  • Search is moving away from keywords, to images, voice and natural language text.
  • Enterprises are moving to cloud.
  • Enterprises have staggering numbers of cloud services creating significant security and employee experience challenges.