In the ongoing discussion about how much Artificial Intelligence (AI) will impact the future of work, the outlook seems bleak. McKinsey & Company estimates that between 400 million and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and need to find new jobs by 2030 around the world.
Yes, we’re on the cusp of a changing workforce, thanks to a number of technological advancements anchored by AI. But, I believe that the best outcome for marketers will be a business environment that complements human ability with technology, rather than eliminates it. In the future I’m planning for, marketers are thriving because we’ve made the decision to let machines do what they do best, so marketers can do the same, and truly excel in their roles.
Currently, we’re quite a long way off from that becoming a reality. The pace of innovation and change is rapid, and we’ve only begun to dip our toes into the water of what’s possible. But, it’s never too early to prepare, which is why I believe there are three key strategies marketers can implement now to succeed through the impending changes AI will bring.
Commit to Becoming an Early Adopter
Technology like AI has the power to revitalize industries, but marketers can’t plan for the business of the future without a willingness to embrace transformation. Looking back at history, we have never been able to stop the progression of change, nor have we wanted to. If there is an easier, better, and/or faster way to do something, we have found a way to do it. Yet, in business, when faced with something so potentially disruptive as AI, we continue to bristle at the idea of incorporating AI-centric solutions into the workplace – in spite of the fact that four out of 10 people surveyed by the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute “somewhat or strongly supported the development of AI.”
AI is at the core of a new industrial revolution. So every person charged with continuing to deliver results for their business must take an objective look and analyze the impact of potential solutions to their business – then take the plunge. Planning for the future always requires curiosity, a tolerance for measured risk, and a comfort level with playing the long game. Change takes time; no industry, category or process can be uprooted overnight. And, truly intelligent tools have a learning curve, too, which means the earlier marketers can begin to train an intelligent system, the more advantage they’ll have.
Focus on Autonomous, Rather Than Assistive, Technology
In thinking critically about the capability AI has to change the way we work, there’s a fundamental mind-shift that needs to be embraced in regard to how we define AI itself. Most of the AI-driven solutions we see in the world are assistive, yet the speed of the new industrial revolution is going to require machines to be autonomous.
If marketers are evaluating solutions that surface insights and other data that still needs to be manually analyzed and acted upon, marketers are engaging with an assistive AI solution. If the technology allows marketers to collaborate with it, rather than operate it – makes recommendations and requests while running entire processes – it’s autonomous. And, Autonomous Intelligence is what has the power to bring humanity back to work, not eliminate it from the job.
With autonomous solutions, marketers can test every idea, make insight-backed decisions, and take action in near real-time. Essentially, they are allowed to be more creative while delivering strong and more effective campaigns at the same time. By being freed from low-value, manual, and repetitive work tasks, marketers are able to focus on driving brand value to create more productive, long-term customer relationships.
Let Machines, and Humans, Do What They Do Best
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that machines are machines, and autonomous tools still need the human touch. Invest time in training AI and marketers on how to work together to the best of each other’s ability. Machines are only as good as the input they receive. But once they’re trained and are able to learn, let them get to work, and let marketers focus their time on the initiatives that really matter.
I don’t believe robots are going to displace marketers, but I believe we’re going to have to make room at the table for Autonomous Intelligence. In order to empower marketers to thrive in this new digital era, it’s high time we think about how to make technology work more strongly for us.