Historically, whenever a large, technological leap is taken it’s met with a degree of resistance, sometimes in a way that makes us laugh. The Wall Street Tech article, “Women And Children First: Technology And Moral Panic” shares that when trains were first introduced to the public there was a fear that women shouldn’t ride them since “uteruses would fly out of [their] bodies as they were accelerated to that speed.” They did not.
In that same article, Cultural Anthropologist Genevie Bell states that society often experiences fear “when particularly revelatory technological advances show up—specifically, ones which interfere with or alter our relationships with time, space, and each other.”
What Was Our Reaction to The Emergence of Marketing Technology?
If you are old enough, you’ll likely remember the book “Who Moved My Cheese?”. It’s a parable that taught readers they could only declare, “winner-winner cheese dinner” if they were willing to embrace change.
The book became a popular business “must-read” in the early 2000s, right around the same time that the internet could be found in most households. This new connectivity meant that organizations needed to quickly rethink the way they marketed their goods and services. The message “adapt or starve” resonated so much that a small book about overcoming the fear of change sold $28 million copies.
Ultimately, the era became a launching pad for the customer experience methodology and automated marketing technology we’re using today. It’s safe to say that once we got past the initial and very human response to the changes emerging technology was bringing, we cleared the way for further innovation.
Do We Fear the Next Iteration of Marketing Technology?
Automated marketing technology has allowed us to essentially outsource time-consuming, repetitive tasks such as scheduled social media postings and email launches. In 2020, we’re going to see this go a step further with more organizations incorporating AI decision making into their marketing platforms.
For example, high-end skincare company Kate Sommerville built its eCommerce website with a platform that could offer unique product recommendations based on browsing and shopping patterns. The consumer’s online behavior assessment and the subsequently executed response was entirely automated.
As AI’s ability to predict and respond to human behavior increases, the potential to successfully interact with customers also rises. But as excited as we all are to level up our ROI, does the addition of AI decision making generate a creeping fear that human marketing positions will become redundant?
Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian explained why there’s nothing to fear in the Stanford article “Our Misplaced Fear of Job-Stealing Robots”. “Automation doesn’t generally eliminate jobs. Automation generally eliminates dull, tedious, and repetitive tasks. If you remove all the tasks, you remove the job. But that’s rare.” Varian goes on to share that “In 1950, the U.S. Census Bureau listed 250 separate jobs. Since then, the only one to be completely eliminated is that of elevator operator”.
Emerging Technology Makes Human Skills More Valuable
The reality is that while marketing technology will not be replacing jobs, it is undeniably replacing some of the tasks that fall within them. Organizational roles will begin to shift as more space is created within them.
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) does a great job explaining how we can expect to see marketing roles change in response to emerging technology in their article, “The Rise of AI Makes Emotional Intelligence More Important”. “Those that want to stay relevant in their professions will need to focus on skills and capabilities that artificial intelligence has trouble replicating — understanding, motivating, and interacting with human beings.”
“It’s these human capabilities that will become more and more prized over the next decade. Skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become differentiators as artificial intelligence and machine learning take over our other tasks.”