The American venture capitalist Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) presented her highly anticipated Internet Trends Report at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, on May 30th. Popularly called the Meeker Report, this year’s 294-slide presentation provided a wealth of analyses on everything from new video content types to military-civilian cooperation in artificial intelligence initiatives. The report offers insights that buyers of global language services can use in the development of their multilingual business strategies.
Global content marketing, beyond the plateau
The formerly explosive (and usually steady) growth in the smartphone market is, for the first time, fully in the past. According to the Meeker Report, 2017 is the first year to see no growth in new smartphone shipments. This was despite better, faster, and cheaper production of Apple iPhones and devices built for the Google Android operating system. This was also despite global increases in WiFi adoption that were contributing to internet usage.
And while the report predicts that 2018 will finally be the year in which more than half of the world’s population is online, we’re not there yet. The Meeker Report shows slowing growth in the number of new internet users. The picture that this paints for global business leaders is not rosy: businesses can expect deepening competition for the engagement of the current set of internet users, as well as increasing consumer expectations for product and service innovations and improvements.
Rosy or not, this assessment of the state of mobile device consumption and the internet, and the impact of these trends on global businesses, raise important questions for multilingual marketing managers:
- Can efficiencies or innovations in your multilingual content strategies deliver a competitive advantage in your target market(s)?
- Could a review and adaptation of your multilingual content improve foreign-language user engagement with your products and services?
- How might multilingual managers best survey global consumers to ensure customer retention?
Big data, big value
For enterprises, analytics have massive value. For one, Mary describes how big data from mobile and online engagement have revealed the continued strength of search engines and the rising influence of social media in purchasing decisions. What’s more, “Data can be an important driver of customer satisfaction,” said Meeker in her presentation. In the investor relations calls cited by the Meeker Report, online retail giant Alibaba specifically credited transaction data as contributing to its success by providing insight into “consumer behavior and shifting consumption trends.” Big data analytics have also helped companies improve everything from customer support processes to fraud prevention.
Another good example can be found in the quality-of-life improvements made by service-on-demand systems. For example, the Meeker report included a survey on payment transaction behaviors of 9,200 smartphone users living in 16 counties. Out of every 10 transactions, 6 were digital, including via wearables, smart home devices, and mobile messenger apps. These changes in mobile payment technology have decreased the friction of making both everyday and more complex transactions.
For enterprises buying language services, there are several important lessons to take away:
- The collection and analysis of big data can provide incredible insight into how customers—domestic and foreign—are spending time with your products and services, allowing you to adapt content accordingly.
- The specific data shared in this report proves that multilingual transaction content goes far beyond the translated “buy now” button. Technologies like wearables and voice-driven smart home devices, as well as increasing opportunities created by search ads and social media platforms, are strong avenues for reaching customers in diverse markets.
- Relatedly, the report makes the case for either hiring data scientists or working with multilingual language vendors who bring data analysis expertise, and who can advise on data’s value and application in areas like machine translation of product and service content.
The critical nature of UX for growth
While there is slow-down in the number of new internet users, internet usage itself continues to rise. Moving forward, how people spend time on the internet is more important than how much. It begs the question: how do marketers further impact and improve the time spent online and the ways that time is spent?
Here’s an example: the acceleration of e-commerce continues alongside developments in online payment processing, and in seamless integrations and comprehensive solutions for moving traffic between companies' brick-and-mortar stores and online shops. This has been further enhanced by overall UI design improvements that offer simplicity as well as integration and extensibility via messaging, video, and voice technologies. All together, these advancements have transformed and benefited the experiences of sellers and buyers alike.
The takeaway here? Enterprises must deliver an exceptional user experience. Marketing teams will benefit from UX assessments and improvements for each target market.
The privacy caveat
With the explosive amount of multilingual data being created from the diverse levels of the company-customer relationship, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Meeker Report also spends time addressing issues of data value, privacy, security, and transparency.
The report closely examines recent and related developments to address what it summarizes as the “privacy paradox.” That is, “Internet companies [are] making low-priced services better, in part, from user data. Internet users [are, in turn,] increasing time on internet services based on perceived value.” Yet regulators globally are playing catch-up on how user data from internet companies should be handled to ensure proper (agreed upon, fair, and legal) use. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which, among other tasks, seeks to harmonize data privacy laws across the union, only came into effect a few weeks ago on May 25th.
Citing Facebook’s recent struggles, the Meeker Report can be seen as offering advice to companies—including multilingual global players—on how to be a good data steward:
- While it is “irresponsible to stop innovation and progress,” managing the unintended consequences of data collection strategies is vital to today’s internet companies.
- Enterprises should prioritize data-driven personalization strategies to drive growth, yes, but expect (justifiable) regulatory scrutiny.
Of course, there was much more to the Meeker Report than what we’ve covered here. Check out the entire presentation in the YouTube video and then share your own insights in the comments below.