From the revolutionary to the practical, we are being made increasingly aware of the impact technology will have on our careers, from transportation that will undergo dramatic change with the normalisation of driverless cars, to the support wireless and digital technologies can provide over stretched healthcare systems. Within marketing much has been made about the role of AI and Machine Learning and the ability of technology to provide revolutionary ‘big data’ to transform marketing. But can machines ever fully take over the role of human talent in marketing or advertising?
The value of big data
Certainly, there is no argument that big data provides valuable new insights in better ways than before. AI and ML can trawl through huge amounts of raw data in real-time, allowing marketing decision makers to access the data they need to make confident decisions. From assessing the best type of content for every stage of a sales cycle to looking at improvements to how CRM systems can grow conversion, facilitate engagement, boost customer lifetime value and positively impact conversion rates. Used correctly, big data can offer information that helps marketers to reduce customer acquisition cost and improve vital customer-driven metrics.
How AI is being used in marketing
In fact, if we look at the list of ways in which AI can be used in marketing the case for investing in big data becomes even more compelling. The science that it is predicated on – deep learning – allows computers to learn marketing skills such as the understanding of speech semantics, images and text and to use this learning to deliver increasingly targeted answers and suggestions for marketing evolution. For example, Facebook uses deep learning to better its user content filters. It also supports content curation, the writing of SEO optimised headlines, produce recommendations, speech recognition (such as Siri on the iPhone), search and ad targeting.
This will only increase in time. Predictions for the industry in general this coming year suggest that the speed of technology evolution will only accelerate – with rapid improvements being delivered through systems which are still relatively new. Big data applications are already unrecognisable from their predecessors from just a few years ago and marketers are obliged to work hard to keep up and ahead of the curve to keep that competitive edge.
Machines are still a tool for human talent
However, it would be a mistake for the industry to begin to rely too much on AI and systems to ‘do’ the job of marketing. The fact is, data of all kinds – from the humble dashboard to the most complex big data reports – still requires human interpretation. Yes, machines can spot trends in increasingly sophisticated and rapid ways but marketers still need to be able to interpret that data and use it to make complex decisions based on an array of shifting factors – everything from the ‘hard’ facts, through to internal resources, skill set availability and even that all-important ‘gut feel’ of what will and won’t work.
Resourcing implications for marketing teams
So, what does this mean for your business? What marketing skills does your team need in 2017? The trends suggest that you need to hone, or hire, two types; technical and analytical.
At the technical end of the spectrum marketers who can use AI and big data systems and programme them to produce data that non-systems specialists can interpret are likely to command the highest salaries due to their specialist skill sets. In addition, marketers who understand AdTech and MarTech landscapes will become increasingly important in helping organisations navigate the growing complexity of the Lumascapes.
In recent years, analytical aptitude has become core to many of our hiring needs. This trend will continue as we are presented with more data requiring a sharp eye with broad depth of knowledge to find the ‘silver bullet’ among the numbers.
For the creative and less-technical marketers the old requirements still hold true – an ability to think in fresh, innovative and exciting ways that can create winning campaigns, however there will be a general expectation that staff will need to be able to work with data and tech confidently – and this will often require training and investment.
Ultimately, the marketing world may increasingly churn out all of the data we need in the industry – but it is human data that will always need the human touch, insight and ‘gut feel’ to interpret, and use in a way that matters. We firmly believe this at Addition+, the best tech needs the best minds.