Insight

13 Tech and Marketing Trends — for 2018 and Beyond

Holy sea change Batman. 2017 has been an interesting year by any measure. 2018 will likely
be a year of change, potentially one of uncertainty and almost certainly a year of striking tech
innovation. Here is a roundup of some trends on the horizon.

Trend #1: Politics will be the elephant in the room

USA uncertainty, Europe, Brexit, refugees, China, North Korea… there’s a lot of political uncertainty and change coming. How can markets be so calm even with seemingly ever rising geopolitical uncertainty? We’re not quite sure. We do know companies and organizations will be forced to adapt to distant but potentially disruptive geopolitical shifts. Consider how healthcare changes in the US will impact insurance companies and customers, hospitals, pharma and biotech. Or the ripples of Brexit across finance, real estate and fintech.

Trend #2: Cognitive technologies are coming of age

Cognitive technologies are unlike anything that’s come before. They use natural language processing and machine learning to understand, reason and learn. As a results, smart machines will fuel strategic growth, find answers to complex business questions, transform manufacturing, and put each customer at the very center of every marketing campaign. Cognitive technologies use cognitive insights (data of all types from practically all sources — structured and unstructured) correlate and analyze to inform business decisions. Of course, leadership, smarts and strategy are key: what are the questions and what business decisions can be impacted.

Trend #3: The (customer) journey is more important than the type of passenger

Customer journey mapping will become a more important business tool than audience segmentation. Rarely is there a single linear customer journey; more usually customer journeys are pretzel-shaped. Look for more attention paid to customer experience (CX) and user models. as mapping the journey will soon outweigh the gains from segmentation. Sure there are customer journey implementation challenges, but benefits ware enormous.

Trend #4: More, better apps

There are more than 1.5 million apps in the iOS App Store, and even more on Google Play.) There will be more apps, and they’re going to change the way we live and do business. Also look for apps backed by more powerful data, more cognitive technologies, AR and VR apps, apps designed for wearable devices, IoT and mobile payments, and apps integrated with chatbots,

Trend #5: Better, faster access to data

As databases and software engineers close the loop on integrating databases and creating, flatter, more fungible data pools, we will be able unify data sources, which means better, faster access to data. At the same time, big data and big databases will contribute to the data gains more than simply data gulch.

Trend #6: Shift from mobile strategy to engagement strategy

Mobile is not an island, demographic or state of mind. Mobile devices are just a vehicle — a pretty dominant one — we use to communicate, shop, learn, share, etc. The path to digital transformation means an engagement strategy that will includes better positioning for the customer who happens to be on a mobile device and ways of evaluating and integrating hardware (wearable devices) and software (new mobile apps) into customer journey.

Trend #7: AI is coming

You’ve probably had some interaction with AI, and there is more, much more, on the horizon. Conversational UIs (like Amazon Echo) are already here. AI has the potential to introduce new sources of business growth and change how work is done. According to an Accenture study, AI could double economic growth rates by 2035, and increase labor productivity by up to 40%. Of course, increased productivity is not the holy grail as it may take jobs away and move gains from people to companies. Bill Gates warns of the danger of “(crossing) the threshold of job replacement of certain activities all at once.” That’s why Gates believes AI and robots should be taxed and monitored.

Trend #8: AR and VR will continue to grow

In the past year, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have quietly become, well, a reality. We’ve seen Facebook, Sony, Nintendo, Samsung and many others launch VR games and devices, and VR has been making a splash in film and TV, as well as art around the world. TechCrunch reports AR could become the primary driver of a $108 billion VR/AR market by 2021, with AR taking the lion’s share of $83 billion and VR $25 billion. It’s a nascent industry, folks, and that means growing pains will be right there alongside growth.

Trend #9: IoT (internet of things)

Smart refrigerators, appliances, cars and lightswitches are already here. The internet of things is taking shape. There are still a lot of roadblocks ahead, like system architecture and standards, but the smarter future has already started. Management guru Michael Porter says IoT will be the “Third Wave of IT-Driven Competition” that will “unleash another leap in productivity.” Gartner predicts that the number of connected devices will grow from 8.4 billion in 2017 to 21 billion in 2020. GE, which has staked its future growth on the Industrial Internet, as it refers to the new landscape of connected devices and machinery, estimates this market will add between $10 and $15 trillion to the global GDP within 20 years.

Trend #10: Cool new stuff in email

We sincerely hope 2018 won’t be another year of “email is dead” myopic prognistication. We think the opposite. There’s a lot of excitement and cool new stuff in email. Look for more interactive email, better email personalization and automation. We’ll also be seeing more marketers focusing not just at newsletters and official emails but at employee’s individual email accounts (and, for example, updating sigs and interstitial content in salespeoples’s emails). Finally, look for the including of more live elements within email (think sports scores, stock prices, weather, sales updates—timely content that can be injected into an email at the last minute).

Trend #11: Getting away from the channel focused mindset

With mobile an established part of the communications landscape and marketing landscape, brands will look beyond the channel: what works best for what experience and what each customer needs in the relevant channel, time, tone, etc. Brands want saliency in a cluttered landscape; customers want it all—a top notch user experience in realtime, on any device.

Trend #12: Smart data trumps big data

Yeah, yeah, big data is going to be the next big thing for a long time now. But we think in the short term, there’s more gold to be mined from smart data—machine learning, integrating multiple data sources in real time, and new strategies based on culling data. For marketers this means learning how to gather these new data and pinpoint opportunities.

Trend #13: Security

Equifax, Verizon, Bell Canada… 2017 has seen a whole lot of data breaches. We rely more and more on online data, use more online services, while cyber criminals get smarter and more audacious every year. Billions of consumer records are compromised and millions of dollars stolen every year. It’s no wonder cybersecurity is projected to grow to $170 billion by 2020. Is your data secure?

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What trends do you think will transform your industry? What are the opportunities for your business or organization?
Let us know.