Here are some of the hot stories that our B2B tech teams have been talking about:

The Meeker report

At the Code conference this week, venture capitalist Mary Meeker issued the 2019 edition of her legendary Internet Trends Report. A look at everything from the number of people with internet access to eCommerce to data collection and analysis to regional trends, “the Meeker report” is nothing if not comprehensive (333 slides this year). Some of the topline findings:

  • More than half the world’s population – 3.8 billion people – are online. The countries comprising the top three in terms of online users are China (21%), India (12%) and the United States (8%).
  • We’re buying more things online – 15% of retail was through eCommerce.
  • Advertisers are better at balancing their spend, matching budgets to the amount of time people spend on mobile (33%) and desktop (18%). Google and Facebook lead in U.S.-based ad revenue – but Amazon, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest are gaining.
  •  On average, U.S. users spend more than six hours online – 3.6 hours on mobile alone. The report forecasts that time spent on mobile will surpass time spent watching television in the U.S. for the first time.
  • Fortnite has established itself as a social platform as much as it has a gaming sensation, with teens reporting they have learned how to work as a team (50%) and made a friend (44%) through the game.

A face you can trust?

While facial recognition technologies face opposition from some in the States, China’s largest insurance company is using the tech to determine whether a customer is a financial risk. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, Ping An Insurance “routinely scans the faces of customers and its own agents to verify their identities or examine their expressions for clues about their truthfulness.”

Upon setting up an account, the customer is asked to make a number of facial expressions – blinking, opening their mouth, etc. – which are recorded by Ping An’s systems. This then enables the customer to speak directly with an agent through the insurer’s app for virtually any interaction, from obtaining a loan to submitting a claim.

Skeptics say this is more of a marketing tool than a gauge to set premiums. I hope they are right.

Billion-dollar data

Proving that it’s not just about the data, but how it’s interpreted, Salesforce on Monday announced its largest acquisition yet, buying data visualization firm Tableau Software for $15.3 billion. Media positioned the move as a reaction to Google’s recent purchase of Looker, which also helps customers analyze business data.
Salesforce has been working to turn its sales and customer management solution into a wider platform; it purchased Mulesoft in 2018 to connect various enterprise applications so they could share data.

Related pro tip

Flashback to the 2014 Internet Trends write up on the SHIFT blog. Five years ago, the focus was on emerging technologies like Snapchat and the rise of apps in general.

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