Oleksandr Cherviakov, Senior Manager – Business Solutions at Annalect MENA, argues that automation will make marketeers stronger, not fewer.
In this contactless, socially distant world that we’re building for ourselves as a result of the pandemic, there is much talk of dehumanization. We’re busy removing what makes us human – a smile, a pat on the back, a kind word. Your daily trip to the corner shop is now a click online rather than a social interaction. Like horses or steam engines in previous centuries, machines and systems are increasingly doing the ‘heavy lifting’ for us. How far will this go, some wonder?
One of the key drivers of this trend right now obviously is health, to prevent the spread of the virus and save lives. There are instances of nurses being assisted by physical robots or supported in their administrative tasks by bots. In marketing, a suite of systems is designed to streamline, automate and measure marketing tasks and workflows. Its purpose is to increase operational efficiency, as well as marketing and business, performance.
Most businesses use automation to standardize and structure data and processes in order to simplify and accelerate them. This is how employees are freed from repetitive, low value, time-consuming tasks.
The analog marketing world was certainly time-consuming, with a lot of manual duties and constant back-and-forth between parties. The rise of digital data only compounded the issue. Traditional agency structures began to crack under the volume of data and the enormity of the analysis required to make full use of it. All this data was never meant for humans. It’s been estimated we extract little more than ten percent of the full value of the data available to us. Automated systems powered by a combination of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) extend our reach, push further and dig deeper. Workflows needed rationalization and machines came to the rescue.
Today, both marketeers and agencies share the same agenda to cut complexity out, speed up processes and increase efficiency. To achieve this, there already are countless martech solutions and platforms. They facilitate lead nurturing, lead scoring, lead lifecycle management, cross-sell, up-sell, and retention, as well as marketing ROI analytics. We’ve opted to develop our most important solutions internally, like our own Omni agency data platform or InvesTrack, our locally-engineered marketing investment management platform. They align all our teams and clients on consistent data and processes, from brief to finance, delivering significant efficiency gains. Systems like Investment Planner, Budget Split Optimiser and Scenario Builder, which are built on some 2,800 regional econometric models and draw learnings from 16,000 response curves, facilitate and strengthen clients’ decision-making.
With the rapidly growing amount of transactions and interactions in brands’ marketing plans, blockchain technology is making the leap from concept to reality. Early steps are being taken in the region, like KFC’s implementation of an innovative blockchain platform for its digital advertising and media buying. With greater access to log-level data, its media agency Hearts & Science will be able to make faster changes to fuel data-driven business performance and access the region’s media supply chain even better.
When new technologies surfaced in the past, like the steam engine or computers, our predecessors feared for their jobs and livelihoods. Hollywood has long played on this latent anxiety about the future, pitting man vs machine in a dystopian future. The technological and digital transformation of marketing has been underway for a few years now, and we’re seeing more benefits than threats. In fact, the global pandemic will only accelerate this evolution.
So, does this mean the marketing function can be led or run by a machine? Will agencies be staffed with robots? Of course not. We’re still marketing to real people, with their emotions and irrational thought processes. Our human touch, common sense and empathy, which separate us from machines, make us essentials to the marketing function, both at the brand and the agency end of the spectrum. Marketeers need not worry about automation making them redundant. Instead they should embrace and master it to further enhance their brands’ connections with consumers. Freed from mundane and repetitive tasks, they will focus on the creative and strategic elements of their role, where they can add the most value.
Over the past few years, businesses have, rightfully, considered and upgraded their tech stack – the digital and data infrastructure to support their transformation. It’s now time to consider the effectiveness of their talent stack. Building more human interaction, understanding and empathy both in the workplace and across all our relationships and interactions with consumers will put some warmth back into something that’s become very cold.
So no, the marketing sector isn’t going to be led by robots. On the other hand, what automation gives marketeers and agency professionals is the opportunity to operate at a higher level and quicker to achieve better results. What’s not to like?