Artificial intelligence (AI) grew exponentially in 2017, and was the number one topic many executives called out as the hottest tech trend of the year. In 2018 it will be even bigger, particularly when it comes to companies using AI in sales and marketing. That's according to Manny Medina, cofounder and CEO of sales engagement platform Outreach. Here are his words about what you can expect to see going forward.

1. Marketing will use AI to make sure the right activities are being done to keep deals moving.

With AI marketers will be able to test not just top of funnel activities but activities in the middle and bottom of the funnel to make sure the leads they source are closing. AI will allow them to test new things quickly--by persona, segment and state to figure out which marketing programs work and which don't, ultimately compressing the sales cycle. 

2. Chat bots will become the first line of defense for inbound leads.

Instead of sales reps manually qualifying leads, they will be handled by a bot like Drift. Inbound lead handling will become far more efficient as a result.

3. AI will help sales to recognize patterns that tell them where to focus.

By analyzing historical data AI will recognize patterns between leads in the queue and what they have already successfully sold into it. Prioritization will become a science that happens automatically without reps having to think about it. 

4. Reps will have an AI-powered sales assistant that suggests responses to incoming emails.

It will read your email, understand the message and context, and propose a response that the rep will simply approve or tweak. 

5. AI's biggest limitation--high quality data--will become evident.

Without this, AI recommendations and actions are useless. This will drive a massive effort for companies to clean the data they've got and implement tools that help them collect complete, accurate data about all activities and outcomes. Manual logging of data by reps after the fact will no longer suffice.