Machines are coming for your jobs. While this may conjure up Terminator-esque scenes of red eyed, human shaped, robots pushing you out of your office chair the reality is far scarier. I say machines are coming for your jobs because the disruption to the way marketing professionals work is coming from machine learning rather than physical robots.
The threat is invisible to some extent – it’s in the ability to process information and complete tasks in a more efficient way than a human being can. But it doesn’t have to be scary if you break down what machine learning aims to achieve and the role we have in shaping the capability of artificial intelligence.
A machine can only perform a task based on the data inputed by a human being, the machine also has to know if it has performed the task correctly to be able to learn more.
Processing huge amounts of data, or ‘big data’ as it’s more widely known, is increasingly featuring on marketers’ to do lists but what if you had the right machine to do this for you? Some brands already have systems in place so does that make the rest of a marketer’s job void or free up time to do less laborious tasks?
You need humans, again, to ensure it’s the right data that is being processed.
There are theories that the rate machines will learn will result in a super intelligence that will be to the detriment of human beings and eventually wipe out our kind, but we don’t know when or if that will happen.
Back to the present day, it’s up to marketers to gravitate towards the parts of their jobs that cannot be automated – efficiency is for machines and there’s a place for the inefficient in the creative industry because that’s where the instinct, the ideas, emotion and intuition lives.
A good measure of the risk and scale of automation can be checked in this study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte, which calculates the likelihood of automation by job title. For marketing associate professionals it’s not very likely (33%) that their jobs will be automated and for marketing and sales directors it’s quite unlikely (1%).
Nowhere to hide
An important factor is that the development of technology will not stop; the desire to improve and to progress will be ever-present so there is no hiding from the potential changes this may bring with it.
There is no timeline for change either, machine learning could start eradicating jobs in a year, five years or in decades to come. There could be a breakthrough tomorrow, there are tech giants and brilliant scientific minds racing to launch the first truly useful AI – just look at what is coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
But the fundamental point is controlling the effect on jobs. Marketers can read around the subject of artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning and be at the forefront of a business if and when any changes to their jobs might occur.
And knowing what the job entails, marketers can also have a role in the design of what parts of the profession can be done by a machine and what requires the human touch.