4 Significant Digital Trends of 2018

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The 2018 digital world has been an interesting one according to venture capitalist and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner, Mary Meeker, who recently presented her renowned annual presentation of this year’s digital trends. In her presentation, she talked about the significance of major trends in the digital world including privacy, China’s commerce, gig employment and AI, and healthcare.

1. Privacy Paradox

Never-ending data breaches cause major security concerns for consumers, but those same consumers give out their personal information to companies in exchange for free and efficient digital services. Meeker stated that advanced global economies are stuck in a privacy paradox and this will continue to be an issue throughout the year as regulators strive to preserve a sense of privacy that is meaningful to consumers.

2. Chinese Merchants

China-based companies continue to increase their global reach by changing how commerce takes place in-person, online and through mobile devices – which will eventually lead to both direct and indirect impacts on consumers outside of China. Meeker stated that “Alibaba, a Chinese multinational e-commerce giant, is increasingly extending its platform beyond China with both acquisitions and equity investments. About 8.4% of its revenue was outside of China, versus 7.9% in the previous year”.

Belle, a Chinese shoe company, has installed sensors throughout their stores to track where consumers are spending their time shopping. They also put RFID chips in the shoes which collect information like how many people try on the shoes and what percentage of those people purchase the shoes. Technology like this could be used in retail locations throughout the world.

3. Gig Employment and Artificial Intelligence

A flexible work schedule is growing in popularity in the United States as workers demand a greater freelance environment. According to Meeker’s research, the on-demand workforce, aka gig employment, in the United States will increase 23% year over year. “On-demand jobs are filling needs for workers who want extra income and flexibility, and have underutilized skills and assets,” Meeker said. “The bottom line is, for on-demand and internet-related jobs, the scale is becoming significant in the U.S. and in other parts of the world.”

According to the Gig Economy Index, approximately 40% of the American workforce now makes at least 40% of their income through gig employment. A total of 75.7% of these workers (and growing) say they wouldn’t leave their freelance work for a full-time job because of the flexibility, health benefits, supplemental incomes, and creative fulfillment that come along with gig employment. And what is the main principle behind matching freelance workers with employers through these digital channels? Data.

“Data volume is foundational to algorithmic refinement in AI performance. It’s foundational to tool and product improvement, artificial intelligence predictability and capability,” Meeker said. “Artificial intelligence service or platforms are merging from internet leaders. Amazon and Google are increasingly competing in this space.”

4. Healthcare

Data collection, data analysis, and digital technology are also becoming important factors in the healthcare industry when it comes to medical expenses and other healthcare-related burdens. Meeker states, “With consumerization of healthcare and rising data availability, may we finally be at the cusp of reducing consumer healthcare spending?’ I certainly hope so.”

With the year only half over, these trends are sure to change and become even more important in the digital world. Some of you may be wondering, ‘where will we be this time next year?’ It’s certainly interesting to think about – but we just have to wait and see.

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