automation of marketing

Will marketing automation and technology end your career?

Will marketing automation and technology end your career? 780 441 nMerge

Will marketing automation and technology end your career?

I want to address a question about marketing automation that I hear many times from executives, often in quiet reflection. It’s a complex question and could be the topic of a longer post. However I will try and keep it simple. The question is, “I am afraid I might lose my job due to technological change and marketing automation?” or, “They will resist that technology because they think it will take their jobs.”

These discussions are laden with fear of a fast moving and unknown future of ‘where’s it all going?’ I understand their fears. They’re based in lack of control. I have felt them too. They’re driven by competing needs, increasing complexity, not enough time to keep up with exploding amounts of information. All the while we’re madly trying to scramble to keep up with ‘digital transformation.’ This paradigm is thrust upon us out of competitive necessity and let’s be honest… a little bit of following the herd.

Automation and it’s Relationship to Creativity

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes automation means some jobs will be lost due to automation of predictable task and process. This has been happening for centuries. The only difference is the perceived and/or real pace, however jobs will be created needing new levels of creativity and collaboration. That is the challenge we all face. How do we incorporate creativity in to our every day life to not be a ‘victim’ of automation? In a sense we need to relearn how to recapture that childlike creativity that allowed us to imagine alternative realities and then make them real. We need to explore with wonder, acceptance and intuition and use fear, but not let it stop us.

In its simplest form, automation is the result of an input or stimulus that triggers a decision criterion to generate an outcome via technology, systems and process. Creative people developed the technology, systems and process. Other creative people will need to maintain the technology and systems and adapt process to internal and external stimuli. Traditionally creative people will need to develop the creative ideas as inputs to go into the automated process. If the inputs generate a positive result using the automated process then a whole new raft of creative possibilities become more tangible as an outcome. The key point is people need to use the God given grey matter in their head to be creative! Everyone can be creative, don’t let fear make you stop using it!

The Basis of Creativity

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and Creativity: Flow and Psychology and the Discovery and Invention, explains, “creativity results from the interaction of a system composed of three elements:

  1. A culture that contains symbolic rules,
  2. a person(s) who brings novelty into the symbolic domain, and,
  3. a field of experts who recognize and validate the innovation…

…Creativity is the cultural equivalent of the process of genetic changes that result in biological evolution.”

There is no mention of technology or automation. As a segue, I acknowledge that some may justify artificial intelligence (AI) may have relevance in the future but culture, bringing something novel and recognition of its novelty, hence altering culture are inherently human characteristics delivered by cognitive beings. Like Kurzweil, I believe that if AI gets close to that point, humanity will have an evolutionary choice; destroy or integrate? Be a futuristic Ned Ludd or make an evolutionary choice?

Marketing Automation and Creativity in Practice

Let’s look at some examples relevant to the field of marketing and technology. A field that holds automated promise but still has issues…

Hubspot developed a software as a service marketing automation platform in 2006. They recognised by itself the technology automation would be a hard sell so they created a whole methodology called ‘Inbound Marketing.’ This allowed users of their technology to ‘attract, convert, close and delight’ their customers. Inbound marketing is a term to cover the concept of attracting customers to engage with owned and earned content so they nurture on their own journey of discovery. When the customer is ready for a sales person to interact they position themselves as ‘trusted advisors’ with the objective of ‘adding value’. This creation and fusion of technology and human applied methodology by Hubspot’s users was due to the acknowledgment that the technology by itself is only part of the answer. It’s the humans that ideate and develop creative ideas that are used to attract customers based on a solid understanding of the persona’s interests, pain points, preferences and emotional triggers. Inbound marketing as a methodology and Marketing Automation as a technology are only part of the mix. Yet in the pursuit of trying to find what I call a ‘green button solution’ some people forget three fundamental concepts:

  1. Customers value interactions that delight them at functional, emotional, life changing and social levels,
  2. People are creative, technology isn’t. Our use of technology should enable us to be more creative and make more effective decisions, not less.
  3. As both customers and creative sellers we need to recognize it is people who create deep emotional connections not marketing automation systems.

Parting thoughts

To me creativity is the broad answer to the question. If your job is predictable and process driven, then find ways to learn and/or be more creative. Take a class in something different, anything that stretches your brain, making you feel uncomfortable in its difference and lack of familiarity. Maybe it’s dance, singing, painting, acting, writing or further education? Start a business or volunteer? Do something different. Create don’t consume. If you fail that’s OK. Give it another go. Persevere.

This is a thrilling time to be alive and sometimes it would be nice to return to simpler times but it isn’t possible. I personally choose to embrace the fear and try to construct a reality that embraces creativity, intuition, and ideation that can draw links between silos creating new possibilities. At times, I will fail but I accept that failure is a state of mind. Often influenced by my perception of other people’s perceptions. But it is not the end. So do not be afraid to try new things, pivot your career, step out of your comfort zone and create and collaborate in all its messy glory so you do not have to fear being a ‘victim’ of technology or marketing automation.

 


Richard is Managing Director of nMerge Pty Ltd providing consulting, systems and services to Australian companies as well as partnering with marketing and sales technology vendors and thought leaders in Europe and Silicon Valley, USA. His obsession is helping companies solve problems at the intersection of the customer centric application of technology, marketing and sales programs.

Richard holds an MBA, Master of Information Systems Management, Diploma of Applied Arts (Graphic Design) and certifications in PRINCE2, and Agile DSDM.

Richard can be contacted on:
E: richard.sharp@nmerge.com
M: 0415 112 846

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