what trends 2018 do our experts predict?

Which trends had an impact on marketing, sales and service circles and touched customer journey management as well as digitalization? And which trend could be a force to be reckoned with this year? Our experts across different business units, teams and fields of expertise opened up about the big trends of 2017 and what’s to come in 2018.

Content Marketing

Frank Müller (Xing / Twitter)

Which trend surprised you in 2017?

A lot of companies decided to take on customer journey mapping and customer centricity and implemented them in projects or at least started the process.

How did digitalization influence your field of expertise in 2017?

To be able to successfully communicate with your customers, you have to be on the lookout for innovative ideas constantly. Either you develop your own ideas or you take a look at English-speaking countries (because that’s where most innovations regarding digital marketing start) and adapt them to the European market.

Without these innovations, I don’t see how companies can differentiate themselves from competitors.

What’s the most interesting trend for 2018?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) still hasn’t gained traction amongst many of our customers and companies. I am convinced that this is a topic that needs to be taken seriously.

Other than that, I think that artificial intelligence will become more important across markets in 2018.

Customer Analytics & Business Intelligence

Dr. Alexander Beck (LinkedIn)

Which trend surprised you in 2017?

Contrary to previous years, many companies discovered data science and predictive analytics and are finally willing to invest (or already did invest) time, resources and money.

How did digitalization influence your field of expertise in 2017?

Companies realized how transparent data sources can help gain a strategic advantage and started to implement processes accordingly. Easily accessible data is incredibly important, especially if you want to develop proper data science and customer analytics strategies.

What’s the most interesting trend for 2018?

Automation and artificial intelligence. I am thinking of chat bots, virtual assistants like Siri and cognitive services that can be individualized for each customer but also help take on time intensive tasks. Right now, many practical examples can be found in the service sector.

Service Excellence

Rainer Wolf (Xing / LinkedIn)

Which trend surprised you in 2017?

– Mass suitability for CRM field service

– The speed of cloud adoption-strategies. By now, on premise-solutions are next to non-existent.

– How fast companies have switched or want to switch to an agile project methodology.

How did digitalization influence your field of expertise in 2017?

Agile projects with virtual teams have become the standard practice. In my experience, the actual level of agility hardly ever measures up to the expectations but there’s an evolution in the organizational maturity of these projects.

What’s the most interesting trend for 2018?

  1. Integrating service solutions (especially field service) with the internet of things as standard solutions. All the components are already available and ready to go.
    By integration, machines can commission services on their own. The technician can always access important information (contract data and service level agreements in real time). Asset- and contract histories as well as billing information are being documented automatically and form „one source of truth“.
    Additionally, the internet of things is developing further by including, for example, predictive analytics.
  1. Voice as user interface (Alexa and Co)
    This is my „mega trend“ which will probably influence customer relationship management as well. Chat bots are already a reality and could be connected with voice recognition technology like interactive voice response (IVR). I can also imagine voice recognition for service employees. For example, a technician could give his tools an instruction whilst using them.

Marketing Automation

Heike Braches (Xing / LinkedIn)

Which trend surprised you in 2017?

I was really surprised that business intelligence driven marketing did not gain momentum in 2017. In 2015 and 2016, nearly everyone talked about Big Data and data intelligence but as of now, hardly anyone actually uses their data for marketing purposes.

I only know of one single customer use case, where a first pilot was issued based on data to create predictive communication strategies.

How did digitalization influence your field of expertise in 2017?

My field was mainly influenced by the fact that there’s no way around cloud technologies. The cloud offers strong platforms for marketing automation and realizing customer journeys based on touchpoints, so each contact can be nurtured throughout their whole life cycle.

What’s the most interesting trend for 2018?

I am really interested in the future of intelligent marketing. To use, understand and implement data through integrated software solutions is a fascinating topic.

Another big topic for the first six months of 2018 will be the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation. It’s a challenge as well as an opportunity and especially marketers need to change some of their processes and general opinions on personal data. I think it will be quite interesting to lead our customers and develop and implement processes.

Lead Management

Erol Jasaroski (XingLinkedIn)

Which trend surprised you in 2017? 

Blockchain was the biggest surprise for me last year and I am sure it will influence all aspects of our lives in the future.

How did digitalization influence your field of expertise in 2017?


What’s the most interesting trend for 2018?

I am quite sure that blockchain will be a constant in the future. How will it influence marketing and advertisement? I was really inspired by this Forbes article.

Technology / IT

Markus Schneeweis (Xing / LinkedIn)

Which trend surprised you in 2017?

I was really surprised how every trend seemingly was THE trend of the year. The amplitude of trends seems to grow and a lot of IT departments are overwhelmed by the amount.

How did digitalization influence your field of expertise in 2017?

I think that voice controlling and synthesis are amongst the most interesting topics. Our „skill“ for Alexa is only one example but it shows the growing importance. There’s always the need to be more efficient but it also shows that the economy tries to be more inclusive.

What’s the most interesting trend for 2018? 

Depending on the area, I think that chat bots have the biggest potential for the service industry and artificial intelligence is interesting for sales and marketing.

I think that the internet of things will gain importance for IT departments in 2018/2019.

Customer Journey Management

Ines Alte (LinkedIn)

Which trend surprised you in 2017?

If I’m honest, no trend really surprised me because a lot was quite predictable. If we look at the digital agenda, we always have to take new changes, topics and technologies into account. I am really drawn to anything concerning digitalization and try to „inhale“ all trends and technological innovations.

How did digitalization influence your field of expertise in 2017?

The influence was positive: our customers – and I am talking about big organizations – have told us how valuable our know-how was when it comes to digitalization processes.

What’s the most interesting trend for 2018?

Artificial intelligence will be part of the customer journey. But we need to be critical about it. I like to quote Stephen Hawking who said that artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity.”

I see it as a chance for many areas …


Trends only make sense if they optimize processes, customer experiences or bring other advantages to the table. We at the ec4u consider every trend like this: keep the relationship with the customer front and center and think about longevity.

Find out how you can implement and use Customer Journey Management in your company.

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