Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Future of Marketing: 6 Observations from Inbound 2016

The Inbound 2016 was attended by 19,000 people where Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-founders of HubSpot shared their views regarding marketing history and its fate with the audience. Presented in this article are the things that incorporate a small interview and the essence of this presentation.


Bots will be dominating the year 2017 and the same is stated by Halligan who said that in the next five years, the navigation and the current process of using apps will be changed and people will simply ask questions and talk with bots. This advanced method of usage is much easy and efficient than spending hours while waiting for a call back from the sales person. Shah remarks that in order to provide 24/7 customer care services, websites began developing in the 1990s by the businesses. Further, he added that businesses will soon begin building bots that will not be replacing the websites but optimally transforming them by providing more power. A bot will be able to provide every answer to the queries of the customers in the quickest amount of time.

“It’s not human vs. bot,” Dharmesh Shah says, “it’s human to the bot powered.”

A human-machine conversation will replace the “marketing conversation”.  It is believed that at the core of marketing is a conversation among the businesses and the customers and for a long while, potential customers have been a marketing tenet. From the past twenty years, the communication that has been taking place increasingly through a keyboard and the computer screen will be now getting changed into a human-machine communication.

Shah states “The conversational UI is going to be an even bigger leap in software than we had with the shift to Web-based software. We are all re-thinking now how to build products.”

This is considered as the best method to engage, communicate, market and sell: “We will have voice input because it’s much more efficient than typing] and visual output because it’s more efficient than listening—we can see and read and scan much faster that we can listen. I don’t think screens are going away but the keyboard is likely going to be less and less prevalent.”

AI will stimulate the sales and marketing. Shah states that “In the next few years, we are going to have an autonomous, self-driving, marketing automation.” The sales and marketing will enhance and develop because of machine learning that will improve sales and marketing by providing it the capability to perform actions without the need of giving any command regarding what to do. Consequently, actions, for instance, telling lead scoring, content suggestions, and email acquisition will become immensely optimal. One more example that Shah pointed to it is what he calls “ for leads that have the function of automatically routing leads to the appropriate salesperson based on analysis of the data about the lead and about the sales people.”

AI will not replace marketers and the option to jump through the boring things will be available. Shah further states, “Anything that seems rote or mechanical, there is no reason for humans to do—it’s all going to go to AI.” However, the involvement of marketers will be there but with the things that are related to creativity and they will concentrate on “understanding the customer, figuring out what the overall positioning is, having actual conversations with other humans. More interaction design is what marketers will do rather than the mechanics of marketing.” The work that people, mainly in sales, find tedious will be taken over by the Bots who will work in the background as virtual assistants.


Data will transform as the main distinguisher because algorithm development will transform into a commodity. Presently, algorithms can be purchased off-the-shelf; Shah says that “mere mortals like me don’t have to learn about machine learning per se. More companies, including HubSpot, will start doing things that we thought required 100 PhDs. The winners will be the ones that have the data that can feed the machine learning algorithm.”

Engagement Graph will be taking the place of the Link Graph. Google has earned recognition and fortune because it has developed an excellent link graph, indexing and mapping the connections among every Web page, determining content quality by popularity, i.e., inbound links.  Facebook has built the Social Graph linking 1.79 billion people, and they use its search box 2 billion times a day.

Similarly, the big companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are altering themselves according to AI. Fei-Fei Li, the director of the Artificial Intelligence and Vision labs at Stanford University is the jack of all arts in the field of AI. She supervised the development of ImageNet, which is an enormous database of images designed to stimulate the advancement of AI that can “see.” In short, it will help in deep learning systems that can identify objects, people, animals, and even entire scenes in photos. Fei-Fei will assist in managing a brand new AI group inside Google.

All these steps that are taking us in the future are a testimony of how rapidly the technology of AI is developing and how aggressively the biggest tech companies in the world are remodeling themselves around the concept of artificial intelligence.

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