There are 197 slides in this year’s Internet Trends presentation by Mary Meeker and her team — or the gospel of the Internet, as I lovingly call it. If you’re reading this you’ve probably spent the better part of yesterday afternoon dissecting the deck. As usual it’s filled with very interesting insights, some well-deserved recognition of market-makers come market-leaders and all manner of statistics that will quickly become part of funding pitches, strategy outlines, go-to-market decks, and assorted assets. But there’s one slide this year among many great ones* that truly stands out.
Slide 153. This one:
- It’s about removing friction from mundane real-life tasks. This is what ‘Uber for ______’ should ideally look like.
- It ensures higher quality of input (and output) data. No more paper forms and indecipherable handwriting**. Data input becomes structured, with error-checking at each step. Pre-populating fields can ease form completion and submission.
- It’s a natural extension of a chat platform. It doesn’t re-invent the wheel or require you to download a myriad of ill-designed separate apps. It’s already relying on a system that most everyone knows how to use and has on their phone. By continuing to add functionality its utility continues to increase (especially if there’s a way to seamlessly pre-populate and repurpose repetitive information like address, basic personal information, etc).
- Its logical next step will be more automation. “Your license is expiring in 1 month. Would you like to renew it?’ can be an alert. With the quality of on-board phone cameras, there’s fewer and fewer reasons why one wouldn’t be able to snap a passport or visa photo on the phone. With a few taps and a swipe you could skip the queue and have your documents dispatched to you. Now wouldn’t that be lovely? Then let’s all wait for the day when all of those documents actually live inside our mobile devices.
- Its cost-saving and efficiency increase could be staggering. Bureaucracy is expensive and no one likes it; not even the bureaucrats, it seems. While rudimentary data input until recently typically required a digitization step, with the penetration of mobile devices*** so many common requests can be created and processed digitally right off the bat.
This is not a definitive list but the mere presence of this slide and the existence of this screen within the WeChat platform is an incredibly exciting step towards a more seamless future. The one in which mobile technology truly becomes an enabling utility for the currently connected and unconnected worlds alike.****
* Full deck, which you probably already have, can be found here (along with previous years’ versions all the way back to ancient history, aka 2001): KPCB Internet Trends
** I had to fill out a form with a pen and send it via fax yesterday, May 27th, 2015. There’s no earthly reason why anyone should still be using a fax for anything. Very few things make me as grumpy as faxes do.
*** That’s on slide #5. We’re globally at 73% population penetration and rising. For comparison, the most recent UN study on global penetration of improved sanitation (aka % of people with, at a minimum, access to a 20th century version of a toilet) is at 64% (but the data for this was sourced in 2011 so hopefully we’ve improved dramatically since then).
****This futurist can dream. Also, in this scenario, artificial intelligence doesn’t kill us all.