Top 10 Most Transformative Technologies For Marketing in 2018: 350 CMOs, CEOs, Experts Speak

73% of marketing executives see AI or a technology dependent on AI as critical to the future of marketing. 20% think that bots, chatbots, or smart assistants are core. And 63.5% believe that big data will (finally) be transformative for marketers in 2018, according to a report I just completed. (Full disclosure: I consult for TUNE as a Mobile Economist.)

“AI and machine learning will have the most profound impact on marketing in 2018 because it will fundamentally make ‘marketing’ more human,” Altimeter principal analyst Brian Solis told me. “Which is ironic in and of itself.”


I surveyed, spoke to, and questioned 350 marketing leaders, CMOs, influencers, and experts to hear their predictions for the top ten tranformative technologies in marketing in 2018. That includes top executives from Salesforce, SAP, Dun & Bradstreet, and Microsoft.

Most think that technology will enable better brand-customer communication.

“As artificial intelligence and machine learning continues to make their way into marketing automation in 2018, individualization will become the new personalization,” says Michelle Huff, CMO of Act-On Software.

Here are the top 10 technologies the 350 experts I surved said would be most transformative in the coming year:

  1. Artificial intelligence

    (including deep learning and machine learning)

  2. Big data(especially when used for personalization)
  3. Augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality(some are now refering to this as XR: extended reality)
  4. Bots, chatbots, and messaging
  5. Mobile(especially when using geolocation technologies)
  6. Voice-first computing(voice search, smart assistants, voice-based commerce, voice-first interfaces)
  7. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
  8. Messaging and brand(in other words, no technology at all)
  9. Performance marketing(data-driven, ROI-focused marketing)
  10. Customer databases(data management platforms or data lakes)

Clearly, AI is the big winner.

AI + data = 2018 marketing success

Even if executives didn’t pick AI as the most tranformative marketing technology of 2018, they picked a technology that requires artificial intelligence, or benefits greatly from its application.

Bots and chatbots, for instance, require AI to be more than a structured set of if/then statements, and to do more than answer the basics that they’re pre-programmed with. Voice-first computing requires AI for its very existence: almost all natural-language processing (NLP) gains in the past decade have been due to smart systems that learn languages thanks to massive data sets of text and speech.