2018 is shaping up to be a do-or-die year for many businesses. Ever since the iPhone brought about our mobile-first world, every enterprise has faced a stark choice: adapt now or watch customers defect en masse to more tech-savvy competitors.

So what’s next on the digital transformation docket? We crystal balled it and here are the top 10 digital transformation trends in 2018 – plus some recommendations for how you can adapt quickly.

Trend #1 – Digital transformation will continue to disrupt every corner of the enterprise

This shift to digital is forcing companies to harness the power of technology for both for operational efficiencies and to tap new markets. Thousands of digital startups are already doing this like Amazon, Airbnb and Uber, who are digitally native companies. It’s not just the new kids on the block who are revolutionizing the way they do business — innovative giants like GE and John Deere are using IoT sensors in fields to provide crops with the optimum conditions for growth and in factories to decrease energy usage. Companies in the coming year will use data to change the way things are done in departments across the enterprise — be it customer service or communications.

Trend #2 – The convergence of communications and marketing will continue

The corporate communications and marketing functions regularly use technologies that surface data and enable critical insights (e.g. social media tools). When integrated, the two functions are better positioned to make the case to the C-suite for a digital, data-driven approach to business strategy, drawing on the technologies and tools that have typically fallen under their remit. We predict that more companies will start to integrate their communications department under the overall marketing function.

Trend #3 – The media cycle will accelerate and, incredibly, speed will actually matter more

When you think about the velocity of media, time just seems more and more compressed. It’s a natural outgrowth of our hyper-digital, mobile, social operating environment. In the 60s, it was Walter Cronkite and the evening news at dinner. In the late 90s, it was cable news and the 24-minute news cycle. Today, in the Twitterverse, it’s 24 seconds. It’s an incredible pace that taxes brands to recognize issues immediately, quickly craft a strategy, and stay ahead of the evolution.

Trend #4 – Channel focus will shift… bolstering owned and shared

Donald Trump proved in the 2016 election that you don’t need a big advertising budget to push your message. As marketing and communications converge, we are also seeing these channels blend and change. Folks don’t watch TV in the same way anymore, creating challenges for advertisers. At the same time, the adtech industry has changed tremendously – and many traditional advertisers have refocused their ad budgets in favor of other channels. Earned will remain important – but owned and shared will grow at a faster clip.

Trend #5 – More communications channels driven by video

The explosion in channels and technologies contributed to the data deluge that communicators experience today. Twenty years ago, a PR professional would place a story in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times and their job was done for the month. Today, multiple channels must connect with multiple stakeholders and audiences.  Communications now have to engage audiences across multiple social media channels, video, blogs, publications and more. we are seeing video become the preferred channel for engaging audiences and expect this trend to continue.

Trend #6 – Reputational risks will increase

According to most estimates, sixty percent of a company’s market value is attributed to reputation. Today, we are seeing more and more companies place a premium on corporate responsibility and sustainability. Some companies even change their financials to better reflect their performance as measured by various sustainability elements. And this trend makes good business sense. When you look at some of the top stocks on the S&P 500, strong corporate responsibility and sustainability will drive shareholder value – while those without a good story suffer.

Trend #7 – Artificial intelligence will come into focus

AI or machine learning won’t replace communications or marketing professionals – but can make our lives easier. How? Think about the massive digital footprint that we currently manage – with varying degrees of success. Machine learning helps us process all of this data – to spot trends, anomalies, or patterns. With this insight, we can decide when a crisis is going to start or peak. We can summarize tens of thousands of stories to understand context or topics. In 2018, marketers will leverage machine learning to deliver context rich experiences.

Trend #8 – Centralization will break down silos

With the speed and velocity of our digital media environment – and the alignment between marketing and communications – metrics, reports and workflows will continue to become centralized. In a nutshell, this centralization strengthens crisis response, big events or campaigns and C-Suite reporting activities.

Trend #9 – Data becomes more valuable, driving alignment with the business

The new realities of communications and marketing are creating new challenges – and opportunities – for every enterprise. Today CEOs, CMOs and CCOs are under pressure to drive business and strategic value from all of this data. This is one of the most important concepts in this “digital transformation” theme. How do you use data to drive better business results, streamline operations, and accelerate new revenue models? With the plethora of data within our communications and marketing roles, we can move past the basic vanity metrics of old like impressions, shares and mentions and now begin to measure ROI and alignment with business goals.

Trend #10 – Measurement metrics will evolve

With the convergence occurring around “digital transformation,” the metrics that are being used to measure media are starting to change. That’s a very good thing. We will start to measure important variables that impact the business like brand reputation and impact instead of using the vanity metrics of old like the number of mentions a social message receives or the number of followers a company’s social profile has.


2018 is going to be a big year for both communications and marketing teams – and every enterprise. This transformational shift is forcing companies to harness the power of digital technology for both operational efficiencies and tapping new markets.

If you would like to learn more about what’s coming in 2018 and beyond, watch the recording of our webinar: “The Top 10 Digital Media Transformation Trends to Watch in 2018