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We all love the Internet as a source for so many things that impact our lives: daily news, entertainment, social connections, cat videos and awesome memes of the day just to name a few. However, for online information that can really make a huge difference to how businesses should leverage online efforts, data rules the day. Every business and online consumer will have a personal viewpoint on preferences and user experience. Building a strategy around singular preferences can be a scary proposition if the decision-maker is a personal fan of technology that sends the target consumer running away screaming. Imagine an extensive campaign featuring QR codes leading back to a non-mobile friendly site filled with autoplay videos….and then please never think of that horror again.

For quality insight on the evolution of Internet use, the annual report from Mary Meeker at KPCB is an annual feast of information. The Internet Trends 2014 report is well worth a full and detailed read. At the core of the data is this: to create a strategy that will work for any business online, it must be built on the audience. It’s not about the technology, it’s not about you. The answer remains “What problem can we solve for our audience?” and how is our audience using the Web.

A few highlights within the report to note:

 Time spent online via mobile continues to increase at a tremendous pace

  • Mobile usage accounts for a quarter of time online globally; up from 14 percent just a year ago
  • In Asia and Africa, that rate now approaches 40 percent

Global mobile Web Use

 Smartphone use continues to grow but holds huge untapped opportunity

  • While units shipped rose rapidly, only 30 percent of global mobile phone users on smartphones to-date
  • Adoption will continue to rise creating a truly global opportunity to connect on universal platform technology

Shifting comfort and expectations surround healthcare online

  • More individuals are open to new channels of communication as costs continue to add pressure to the system
  • Seen a shift where the majority (52 percent) of consumers want access to tools, healthcare rankings, and patient reviews
  • An even higher percentage (62 percent) are comfortable communicating via email around healthcare concerns

“Let’s build an App!”

  • Rather than rolling in a wide range of functionality into a single app; organizations would be better served to focus on only best-in-class apps or solutions that meet a need where there is a true gap
  • Users prefer specialized apps for one core function
  • If building anything that can be viewed as second to market, it will need to offer greater simplicity or specialization rather then just added features to succeed

Much like the Internet itself, data on usage is massive and ever-changing but the trends report is worth the time to dissect and evaluate. Trend reports like this one offer the chance to  lead and innovate. To borrow from a sporting analogy attributed to the great Wayne Gretzky, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”