Some years ago, in the early stages of what was called “Web 2.0”, “Lynette” created a sensation by combining pithy quotes with stunning photography, combining data and research with a great and often surprising visual story. At the time – about 2008 or so – this approach was ground breaking. But these days we see this more and more – in presentations, public speeches and of course, in business.

And in the intervening period, design has proven its worth, refining and sharpening not only the storytelling aspects of data but creating a whole new visual language that we all readily consume. Our standards AND our expectations of design have increased significantly. And perhaps, more importantly, given that we live in a world of abundant data, design has been tasked with the challenge of simplification – of making the complex world we live in more easily consumable. Actionable. Insight oriented.

And largely, we have stepped up to the mark.

This week, Mary Meeker’s much anticipated trend report was released, garnering the usual fawning excitement. But for the last few years, the vast scale of the report and its rambling content has left me feeling cold. There is none of the focus on the audience that we have come to expect from world class consultants and thought leaders. There is none of analysis and cutting focus. No compelling visual narrative.

But as usual there is plenty to learn in the report. You just need to work for it. But as Josh Bernoff points out, there’s also plenty to learn from Meeker’s design disasters.

For those battling through the sea of baffling data, one of my favourite ways of assessing the Meeker Report is using Three Whats and a Why. Think about:

  • What mattered this time last year (see the 2015 report)
  • What matters now (what leaps out of the 2016 report)
  • What are you measuring (what’s important to you)
  • Why are these things important (yes to you and your business).

Read through the full report below – but remember – these trends are not insights. You still need to do the hard work to make sense of this information in light of your own knowledge of your business, the market conditions and the shifts/disruptions facing your industry, economy and competitive landscape.

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